Dear GOP Handlers/Strategists –
I know the only reason you’re reading something by a ‘life coach’ is because you want to have a laugh. So go ahead, get that out of your system. Hahaha. What does she know about our business?
The truth is, next to nothing.
But you want to talk people? I know people. I am genius at people. And people vote.
So you can keep reading and maybe have a shot at a presidential election victory in the foreseeable future or you could scoff, move on, and keep taking honorable men, wringing out all their most human qualities and remaking them into candidates who shift with the wind. Your choice.
Let’s start here. How, pray tell, did you not win with an American war hero like John McCain representing your party four years ago? Had you let him be quintessential John McCain, warts and all, and not saddled his ticket with a candidate clearly chosen to fill pandering gaps as opposed to strengthen the potential leadership in the White House, things could have been much different.
And now there’s Mitt Romney. On looks alone, he had to be a publicists’ dream. In that department, he’s what much of America considers “presidential.” He’s a family man. He proudly wore the title of grandfather to the Affordable Care Act. His business record is long and distinguished. Asset after asset for the job of applying himself to our economic challenges. A resume a handler can milk for the long haul.
With me so far?
In life coaching we like to focus on the authentic. Oh, geez, you’re laughing again. No, I mean it. We want to get people to their authentic selves, not the self others think they ‘should’ be. They love it once they get going because they feel more at ease and it comes more naturally. We explore – What are their gifts? What is at their core? What makes them tick?
The closest I came in the last year to understanding what makes Mitt Romney – the person -- tick is a story I read in New York magazine in late September. You know, that left-leaning publication? The article showed me a depth in Romney I hadn’t seen before. It painted a portrait of a man embracing other cultures and, in fact, helping them acclimate to ours, one who was hands-on in bringing the unity to community.
“In Boston during the eighties and nineties, when Mitt Romney was the church official in charge of more than a dozen congregations, Mormonism was engaging modern America -- ethnic diversity, feminist claims, identity politics -- and trying, however uneasily, to make some accommodation with it,” wrote Benjamin Wallace-Wells. He went on to write, “Romney himself came to Lynn [Mass.] often, and when he did, it was with a blast of fellowship -- greeting the congregants by name, packing teenagers into a van for a basketball game, showing them by his presence that they mattered too.”
Why wasn’t this Romney proudly on display in his campaign? Because you decided it was best to play down his Mormonism. And God forbid he look like a community organizer like the other guy. You didn’t think people (read: voters in swing states) could handle the real man. Would one brand of Christian be able to handle another brand of Christian? People are more open in that area than you think. Do you know how many out there consider themselves seekers? Who identify as “spiritual but not religious”? This is closer to becoming the norm in our nation.
Instead of selling your product, you decided to focus on defining it against the competition. That approach lost you, of all things, an endorsement in The Salt Lake Tribune, which so desperately wanted to back Romney it isn’t even funny.
“Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear,” the editorial said.
That ultimately falls on you, the people who claimed to know how best to convince voters Romney was their man. How little you know about people. As if all that wasn’t enough evidence, I remind you of your recent lashing out at Governor Chris Christie for not campaigning on behalf of your candidate while he was dealing with the aftermath of the worst storm we’ve ever seen.
The Jersey Shore looks like Venice and you’re ticked off because he won’t make a trip to Bucks County, Pa. to smile with your guy? As Christie indicated, Romney actually understood because he was once a governor. It was you and your one-track-mind, burn-all-bridges approach that was so heartless and infuriating.
You think this is what people want in leaders? No soul?
Mitt Romney has a soul. You chose to glaze over it. Your job, aside from crunching numbers and tracking trends, was to take his shortcomings and find a way to get people to see them as strengths. Or to explain things away in human terms.
Hint: You know you have lost your way when you’re ripping on a guy who has been a good soldier in your party just because he’s doing the job he was hired to do – govern. Christie is leading in a time of crisis. He was smart enough and compassionate enough to realize the storm didn’t devastate people in red or blue categories. It was not so discriminant. In fact, you might have considered calling my governor and offering your condolences for the loss of a good chunk of his state; he came of age at the Jersey Shore, just like so many of us.
You know it’s not a character flaw to be able to work with those of another party, right? To get that we need our president and our governor to work together? And that it’s good, really good, to hear Christie say he cried after meeting and speaking with Bruce Springsteen?
That is what authenticity looks like. Wasn’t it that very authenticity, that plain-spokenness, that propelled Gov. Christie to national prominence in the first place? Now you’re demonizing him for that same quality.
We got a glimpse of what I believe to be the real Mitt Romney in his concession speech in the early hours of Nov. 7.
“This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation,” he said.
“The nation, as you know, is at a critical point,” he said. “At a time like this we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work, and we citizens also have to rise to the occasion.”
It’s possible Mitt Romney ‘got it’ all along, but put himself in the wrong hands and failed to convey that.
Bottom line: Your best bet moving forward, no matter who you are, is to be your authentic self and let the chips fall where they may. It’s always more rewarding, no matter the outcome. And, oh yeah, people like it.
Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.