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Slings and Arrows

Politics and the art of winning hearts and minds


In politics, as in war, no campaign can truly be successful if the victor cannot win the hearts and minds of the vanquished.

Some of the most trusted allies of the United States were its enemies during World War II. Rather than seeking to impose the harshest measures after the war, the policy of the victors was to bring Japan, Germany, and Italy back into the community of nations — we won not only the military victory, but we won their hearts and minds.

A principle of American politics has likewise been that, following even the most hard-fought elections, both sides would join hands for the good of the country when it was over.

We have lost a lot of that in the current day, which to a large degree is responsible for the continuing decrease of Americans who identify with one political party or the other.

It seems that now the purpose of politics is not to win hearts and minds — it’s just to win at whatever cost. I hear people making comments that they seek to “destroy the libs” or eradicate the other party.

It’s a far cry from the days of Ronald Reagan. While many of today’s speeches conjure images of devastation and annihilation, my memory of Reagan and others who led the country is of people who held out a vision of a better country and a better world.

Reagan had the “shining city on a hill.” George W. Bush spoke of “a thousand points of light.”

Whether you agreed with their politics or not, everyone could buy into those concepts, and could see us as a better nation and a better people.

It seems to some degree than many politicians have ethical challenges, but I believe our system of government has functioned best when office holders were seen to have the moral, and not just political, authority to lead.

The political authority might allow you to govern, but it’s the moral authority that wins hearts and minds and allows a leader to govern effectively.

The problem today is exacerbated because neither side seems to have the capacity to demand moral authority of their leaders.

In the coming weeks, the Texas Senate will conduct the impeachment trial of Ken Paxton. Without hearing the evidence, many have already made up their minds that the impeachment should not have happened.

In fact, one comment made on one of our social media posts was that it simply doesn’t matter what Paxton did or didn’t do. We knew what we were getting when we elected him.

Let me be clear here. I don’t know whether Ken Paxton should be removed from office or not. That’s what the trial will be for.

But I find it sad that anyone would take that position.

When we give up our principles for the sake of winning, we have lost.

Based on the evidence I have seen, there should be a trial. And if Paxton is found guilty, it makes no sense to attack those who voted to hold him accountable.

I am a Sunday morning talk show junkie. Hulu dutifully records Fox News Sunday, Meet the Press, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos (although it should be called “This week Without George Stephanopoulos” since he is not on the show more than he is).

I find it interesting that when Democrats are questioned about Hunter Biden, somehow Donald Trump’s name comes up in the answer. Likewise, when Republicans are asked about Donald Trump, Hunter Biden’s name ends up in the answer.

So let me just say that if you can’t defend Donald Trump without bringing up Hunter Biden, you can’t defend him.

And if you can’t defend Hunter Biden without bringing up Donald Trump, you can’t defend him.

And if you are a political party person, let me just explain to you that this is why your political party is now either second or third place behind independents.

The general public, many of whom may not tune into politics but once every two or four years, can still see the hypocrisy at work — and they don’t want any part of it.

So I would just leave you with this: if you truly want to build your party, and not just win elections, then it is incumbent upon you to demand candidates who have the moral authority to lead before you grant them the political opportunity to do so.


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