Nathan Sass

Hey Conservatives – There is No ‘i’ in ‘team’

In Politics, Sports on October 30, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Sports, it is said, can teach us a lot about life.  Teamwork, commitment to excellence, and a will to win are the hallmarks of champions in the world of athletics.

Politics is not much different, really.  Unfortunately, conservatives have a built-in weakness where some of these things are concerned, especially when compared to progressives.

Conservatives are golfers, and progressives play baseball.

Progressives are, as a group, top down people.  Their policies are reflections of their personalities.  They believe that those in power are in power because they are superior, thus their ideas and strategies are superior.  Those not in leadership are happily order takers.  When the leadership says jump, they dutifully jump.

Their belief in the superiority of government demonstrates this nature.  In their minds, an elected person is more qualified to run just about anything, including our lives.

The recent failure to launch of Obamacare bears this out.  Progressives are categorically unwilling to break ranks and criticize an obvious failure.  They follow the lead of the President and repeat “All is well.  Nothing to worry about.”  HHS Secretary Sebelius repeats the mantra, and down the food chain it goes.

At the very same time Obamacare was exploding on the pad, you had the entire democrat caucus in total lock step over the government shutdown.  No matter how bad the PR was, not a single one would dare criticize the team leaders.

Order given, order taken; again and again without complaint or push-back.

Like in all team sports, politics typically requires unification of purpose and a willingness to make your individual success secondary to the good of the team.  In baseball, occasionally a star player will be asked to sacrifice his at bat to move a runner forward.  He willingly gives up the opportunity to be an individual star by getting a big hit or a home run so that the team has a better chance to win.

Progressives do this all the time.  Often they are willing to sacrifice their own advancement, and even their own careers, so long as the team comes out on top.

Lois Lerner fell on the sword, took the heat over the IRS targeting of the Tea Party, and refused to implicate anyone.  She could have been a media star, pointed the finger, and turned herself into a hero of sorts, but the team was more important.  Now her career is over, and her dreams of any further advancement will never be realized.  I would be willing to bet that she has no regrets, however.  Her team won.  The scandal fizzled, Obama was insulated, and her team won.

Now compare this to the typical behavior of conservatives.  Like progressives, their nature drives their beliefs.  Conservatives are fierce competitors, just like progressives.  However they are individual competitors.

Conservative policies reflect this view.  We believe in individual self-determination.  We espouse policies that require individual effort and achievement.  Collectivism is anathema to our worldview.

Like a golfer, the entire world is a conservative’s competition (even including other conservatives).  There is no team, only the individual.  Team wins are impossible, because to a conservative we are all a team of 1.

In the same shutdown drama, the GOP was a loose collection of individuals, generally attempting to reach a shared goal, but almost none were willing to work as a team.  When Ted Cruz took a stand, there were more conservatives taking shots at him in the media than there were progressives.

If the strategy in use by a conservative is not the exact same one you believe in, you attack that strategy openly and proudly.  It is more important to be right individually about the incorrect choice of strategy so later you can puff out your chest confident that at least you were right.

If you need a flesh and blood example, consider John McCain.  He fancies himself a rock-ribbed conservative.  He is also the least team oriented person in the GOP.  He will spend as much, if not more, time attacking his own teammates as he does the progressive opposition.  He lives to tear down his own side, because it serves his individual interests.

It is a lot like baseball when a batter ignores the sacrifice bunt sign because he doesn’t like the manager, and swings for the fences and misses.   The result is a strike against him and an out when the runner is left hung out to dry.  The team loses, and in many cases so does the individual.

The Tea Party is another shining example of the strength, and weakness, of the conservative movement.  The Tea Party, as a group, is motivated, principled, generally knowledgeable on the issues, and willing to act.  They are also leaderless, lack cohesive strategic guidance, too often fight among themselves, and are as interested in personal victory, even if the team loses.

Some mistake this as just a manifestation of ideological purity, and that plays a part.  But that purity is a reflection of the individuality of those in the movement.  All of them are convinced they know best, and if you do not agree with them, ipso facto you are wrong, and therefore to be vocally opposed.

Until conservatives learn the lessons of team sports, and incorporate them into the political world, we will continue to be out flanked, out strategized, and out competed by the progressive team.

The progressive movement’s policies are glaring failures in most cases.  They cannot win on the merits of their solutions, but when they move a single unit, they overcome this weakness and prevail anyway.

If and when we conservatives (and our brothers and sisters in the libertarian movement) can control our fierce independence, if only to achieve shared, common goals and objectives, we will continue to flounder and suffer at the hands of Team Progressive.

No matter how many leaders of the progressive movement we are able to defeat, another will rise in its place and the entire progressive movement will unite behind that new leader, just like a Hydra.

To win, we must be a team, not a collection of individuals.  We need to root for each other.  We need to learn when the time for bickering over strategy is passed, and we get behind the leaders and push together.

We conservatives have shown we have the ability to be a team in the past.  And when we are, we are nearly unstoppable.

Just ask Scott Walker about the power of a team.  His win in the recall was a team win, not a personal  one.  We all were united in one purpose.  We all committed to a single mission.  We got behind the team and all pushed together, and we won as a team.  There was no individual hero in that win, and the victory was just as sweet for all of us.

We can do this.  It isn’t hard to pull off.

But only if we get over ourselves and realize we are on a team.


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