Rule #10: No Matter How Often You Read it, the Tortoise Wins and the Hare Loses. Slow and steady is the final key to longevity.

by johndavis, May 8, 2013

The fact is, the Democratic dynasty was already near collapse in 2010 and 2012. The Democratic structural and organizational underpinnings were rotted with corruption, infighting, neglect and diminishing political battlefield competence, making them a very vulnerable political enemy.

Rule #10: No Matter How Often You Read it, the Tortoise Wins and the Hare Loses.  Slow and steady is the final key to longevity.

This report is the final in a series highlighting key rules for How the North Carolina Republican Party Can Maintain Political Power for 114 Years (like their predecessors the Democrats). The rules highlighted thus far are:

  • Rule #1: Always remember that you are vulnerable
  • Rule #2: Criminal indictments scare off contributors
  • Rule #3: Keep your voters close, and your metropolitan voters closer
  • Rule #4: Caring must be at the core of conservatism
  • Rule #5: Lose the courts, lose the war
  • Rule #6: Men do not equal a majority
  • Rule #7: Welcome young voters with “Come as you are” Open Conservatism
  • Rule #8: Obey the Golden Rule of Politics -“Those with the most gold rule”
  • Rule #9: If it’s tied, it’s Turnout. If it’s Turnout, it’s Technology

Today, I am adding Rule #10: No Matter How Often You Read it, the Tortoise Wins and the Hare Loses.  Slow and steady is the final key to longevity.

May 8, 2013        Vol. VI, No. 10            3:13 pm

This 10-part series on the keys to Republican political longevity began on January 11, 2013, with the caution: don’t create political opportunities for the Democrats by making yourself vulnerable, and the best way to make yourself vulnerable is to think you are not vulnerable.

The greatest source of a sense of invulnerability is pride, the deadliest of the seven deadly sins.

For instance, pride would have Republicans believe that it was their superior might, savvy and ability as political combatants that vanquished the unbeatable foe, the North Carolina Democrats, in 2010 and 2012.  If that was the whole story, why did it take the GOP 114 years to defeat them?

The fact is, the Democratic dynasty was already near collapse in 2010 and 2012.  The Democratic structural and organizational underpinnings were rotted with corruption, infighting, neglect and diminishing political battlefield competence, making them a very vulnerable political enemy.

Compounding the political instability of North Carolina Democrats was President Obama, who weakened Democrats to the breaking point of defeat all over the United States by racing ahead of the wishes of voters with his own public policy agenda.  During his first term, Obama was like the hare in The Tortoise and the Hare, ignoring the value of plodding along patiently with respect for the priorities of most Americans: jobs and the economy.

North Carolina Democrats never seemed to realize that they were creating major breakthrough political opportunities for Republicans by making themselves vulnerable with:

  • A 10-year rash of embarrassing criminal indictments that scared off loyal contributors;
  • Legislative caucuses that drifted so far left of center that they threatened business leaders;
  • Leaders who hogged the glory and ignored the need for a new generation of strong state leaders;
  • Standing with President Obama and his personal agenda against the voters and their agenda;
  • Buying elections year after year with obligatory loyalty from resentful contributors.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It makes you think you are not vulnerable.

Today, Republicans are the ones with the absolute power in North Carolina.  They, like the hare in The Tortoise and the Hare, risk becoming vulnerable by racing so fast to the public policy finish line that they lose sight of the need to bring the voters along with them.  Without the support of North Carolina voters, Republican leaders, like Obama, will cause their party a world of hurt.

So, how do you avoid the corrupting influence of absolute power?  First, you move at a slow and steady pace that allows for an exchange of information, concerns and ideas with voters locally around the state.

One of the best examples of effective management of sensitive public policy matters by bringing voters along with you is how Senate and House Republican leaders managed reapportionment of legislative and congressional districts.  They presented their plans to the public, allowing voters to express their concerns at open forums like local public libraries and community colleges.

Take a look at the list of public hearings and the locations held by the Joint House and Senate Redistricting Committees.  Over 100 opportunities for public input were scheduled during the months of April, May, June and July, 2011, for the convenience of North Carolina voters.

The second means of avoiding the corrupting influence of absolute power is to keep yourself humble by surrounding yourself with mementos of past mistakes.

I learned that transformative political lesson in 1979 from a banker in Mississippi.

His name was Bob Hearin.  He was the wealthiest man in the state.  President and majority stockholder of First National Bank in Jackson.

He was also the most reclusive man in the state.

Despite his great wealth, Bob worked in a drab office cluttered with odd, out-of-place items like rusty machine parts on dusty bookshelves with a small stack of old bricks piled loosely on the floor.  A weathered wooden sign leaned against a dingy wall.

It would take weeks for me to finally get up the nerve to ask, “Mr. Hearin, what is all of this junk scattered around your office?”

Unlike most bank presidents, Bob Hearin was so intensely private that no one my age knew what he looked like.  We had only seen a picture on the front page of the state’s largest newspaper, The Clarion-Ledger, in the annual article about the “Ten Wealthiest Mississippians.”

Each morning, except Thursdays, Mr. Hearin drove to his downtown Jackson office at First National Bank, the second largest bank in the state, where he would spend the day managing his varied business interests.  Each afternoon he left the bank promptly at 3 o’clock and drove out to his farm where he fed his cows from the back of his pickup truck.

In addition to banking, he was a principal stockholder in Amerada Hess, an oil exploration and production company listed on the NYSE and headquartered in New York City, and, at one time, part-owner of the New York Jets.

On Thursdays he flew to New York City in his private jet to meet with his business partner Leon Hess, founder of Amerada Hess and owner of the New York Jets.  He always made it back to Jackson in time to feed the cows.

It was because he was so reclusive, that the state’s business and political establishment was shocked when he agreed to serve in the high-profile role as finance chair of Lt. Gov. Evelyn Gandy’s campaign for governor of the Magnolia State.  He was returning a favor.

The reason that I know all of this is because I was Evelyn Gandy’s Campaign Manager.  I had the unique privilege of meeting with Mr. Hearin daily to discuss campaign finances.

The first day I met with Bob Hearin I was nervous.  His personal secretary, Dixie, greeted me with businesslike hospitality at the elevator of the dimly lit and noticeably quiet executive suite.  She led me to Mr. Hearin’s office.  He immediately came to the door and welcomed me with a warm smile and sincere handshake.

I was surprised by Mr. Hearin’s friendliness; perhaps I expected an old curmudgeon.  I was also surprised at his threadbare dark blue suit and his overall disheveled appearance.

The office décor was sparse, more like what you would see in a bus station waiting room rather than in the inner sanctum of the wealthiest man in the state.  And then, there were those odd items all around the office.  “What were they all about,” I thought curiously.

Over the next several weeks I became increasingly comfortable with Mr. Hearin during our daily meetings.  Eventually, we began to talk about things other than the campaign.  That was when I learned about his cows and his other business interests and his Thursdays in New York City.

The day finally came when I had the courage to ask him about the odd items in his office.  “Mr. Hearin,” I began cautiously, “What is all of this junk scattered around your office?”

His eyes darted from object to object, finally resting on the small stack of bricks.  “Those are mementos,” he began pensively, “of every bad loan I have ever made.”

I was stunned.

“See those bricks,” he continued, “I lost over $250,000 on a loan to the company that made those bricks.”  He then nodded towards the rusty machine parts, “See those machine parts on the shelf?  I lost $100,000 on that bad loan.”

One after another Mr. Hearin pointed out mementos of loans gone bad.  Treasured mementos of mistakes.  Always in sight.  Never to be forgotten.  Never to be repeated.

This transformative lesson is particularly valuable in North Carolina politics, the newest of the presidential swing states.  The perfectly level political battlefield where there are no permanent partisan advantages.  Where nothing can be taken for granted.

In North Carolina politics, you can go from invincible to vulnerable overnight.  And no political leader or group is more vulnerable than those who think they are not vulnerable.

Rule #10: No Matter How Often You Read it, the Tortoise Wins and the Hare Loses.  Slow and steady is the final key to longevity.

- END -

Thank You for Reading the John Davis Political Report!

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John N. Davis, Editor

PS:  A new 10-part series highlighting key rules for How North Carolina Democrats Can Recover Political Power will begin the first week in June.  Send me your ideas: www.johndavisconsulting.com

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