Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Stabler Arena, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
Long Handshake No. 1
The Thirteenth Hour and the Thirteenth Minute (1313 / 1:13 PM) EDT
Long Handshake No. 2
The Thirteenth Hour and the Fifty First Minute (1351 / 1:51 PM) EDT
The Thirteenth Hour and the Fifty Second Minute (1352 / 1:52 PM) EDT
The Thirteenth Hour and the Fifty Fourth Minute (1354 / 1:54 PM) EDT
“It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. Men respond to leadership in a most remarkable way and once you have won his heart, he will follow you anywhere.”
While there is an inherent sexism in Vince Lombardi’s quote, it’s forgivable. It was a man’s world then. When Vince Lombardi passed to the Great Beyond, Sarah Heath was six years old, so he never would get to see what a woman can do. Perhaps his spirit watched Gov. Palin in awe throughout her life doing things that have killed men twice her size. Vince Lombardi was the quintessential macho. Yet, for all his machismo, Vince Lombardi had quite a bit to say about hearts. If you read all his quotes, the conclusion is inescapable: absent heart, any effort undertaken is doomed to abject failure.
Loyalty and Commitment
Leadership and winning hearts is at the root of why I asked Gov. Palin to sign my shirt over my heart this day three years ago. While loyalty and commitment really originate in the brain, as do all emotions and feelings, the heart is their symbolic storehouse. Besides, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin does not perform brain surgeries to affix her signature on deep limbic systems.
Loyalty, commitment, and political support are considered “heart-centered.” The purpose of having my shirt signed there was to symbolically vow my loyalty to Gov. Palin and her Reagan-Conservatism; to let her know that I have her back; that I would fight her battles alongside her; celebrate her successes and milestones; and that if she were to fail, I’d fail with her. This vow extends to Gov. Palin’s family, her staff, contractors, and vendors. By asking Gov. Palin to be a signatory to and executor of that pledge, it means I am personally accountable to honor it, even in bad times and even if I disagree with her on something. This commitment could not be made while asking her to sign a sleeve.
Those whose opinions matter – Gov. Palin; her husband, Todd; and my wife, Elsy – understand what I did at that rally and why I did it. Well, Elsy did not at first, but she finally did get it. We’ll be celebrating 15 years of marriage two months and a week from today. Elsy won’t admit it, but I think “that woman” is growing on her. Elsy gasped in horror when she heard the news that Gov. Palin is not running. Elsy felt a sharp pain – in her heart – for the woman she once hated.
Anyway, I had the good fortune over these three years to meet Gov. Palin and members of her family several more times since this rally, as did members of the US for Palin staff.
The Underpinning of Support
“Emotional charge” and “heart” drives and underpins support. You cannot support someone who you are not fired up about. Vince Lombardi summed that up in a great one-liner:
“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.”
We’ve all seen campaigns where “supporters” are bored, unmotivated and simply have no feeling one way or the other about the candidate they’re working for. These pathetic campaigns are constantly desperate for money and painful to work for. Their conclusions are predictable and inevitable.
Notice how SarahPAC rarely asks us for money. You could count the number of fund-raiser requests this year on your hands and have fingers left over. Why? We just donate. We organize our own money-bombs. We donate to celebrate public and private “Palin-versaries,” – like this one – and to celebrate key milestones and accomplishments. We even donate for no particular reason at all! This support does not exist in a vacuum. SarahPAC’s donors are fired with enthusiasm.
Head + Heart = Victory
Another of Vince Lombardi’s many heart quotes:
“If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.”
Last year, I got to see this principle first hand with Palin-endorsed NY-13 Congressman Michael Grimm’s campaign. Some 100 volunteers, myself among them, with their hearts in the game easily defeated a primary opponent’s paid staff – 5:1 in some election districts. He then destroyed his Democrat opponent who was well-financed, had a paid staff, the backing of multiple unions and the Obama administration. I campaigned for Rep. Grimm just on Gov. Palin’s endorsement. I live in his district. I treated that as a direct order from her. I had to help him win and make her proud. Of course, Rep. Grimm inspired his volunteers on his own merits. Working for his campaign was joyful and uplifting. It was a win for residents of NY-13, Rep. Grimm, his staff and volunteers, and Gov. Palin.
Policy Alone is Insufficient
It is not just about policy and issues as some want to focus exclusively on. You can program a robot and have it spew out policy. You can program a robot’s speeches. Goodbye teleprompters. You can interface an autopen to said robot, have it sign bills into law and do away with the entire political process. A robot can even be made ploppable and plopped into a chair at the Oval Office. Why not? Well…you need a person to program the robot and who would decide how the machine is going to be programmed? We’re back to the agony of Square One. The biggest load of baloney in politics is the notion that “it’s only the message, not the person that matters.”
Leadership that Inspires Confidence, Commands Respect
In the hands of the wrong person, even the right message can be disastrously implemented. In these times, mediocrity does not cut it. We need a strong leader. We need a standard bearer. The person does matter.
Judgment and discernment by definition cannot be programmed. You see, some qualities are completely apolitical and cannot be mechanized. Few people possess even one of them, much less all of them. These qualities are: integrity; leadership by example; keeping promises; executive experience; command experience; life experience; judgment; the right combination of toughness and sweetness; accomplishments; fortitude; the ability to keep confidences; a proven and vetted track record of success; a proven ability to withstand media scrutiny; people person; and impeccable character that inspires confidence and commands respect. Add to that list: proving to the world that a woman can do anything a man can do – and in many cases, do it better.
These qualities are about the person and Gov. Palin possesses every last one of them. That’s what makes her the kind of leader you see only once in 75 – 150 years.
Gov. Palin’s successes always were and always will be about winning hearts and getting those hearts to follow her anywhere.