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NEW PARADIGMS IN THE CIVIL-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: Yes, Virginia, We Can Win; but First We Must Define the Question, and Then, We must Hold Hands and Work Together.
By Robert G. Heinritz, Jr., J.D.
Speech to Gun Rights Conference, Denver, Colorado, September 28, 1997
There is story about Sol, the Jewish tailor-haberdasher, who won a trip to Italy. Included in the trip was a tour of Rome and an audience with the Pope. Sol was a religious man, so he considered it an honor to meet with the leader of another great religion. When he returned home Sol's partner, Al, asked him, So what about the Pope? Sol's reply, About a 38-portly.
The lesson, of course, is that we all tend to see things in ways that relate to what we know.
So what do I know, and what does that have to do with the Second Amendment movement? I'm an attorney and have worked for a big-deal law firm trying big-deal lawsuits, but my first love is management. For the last dozen years, far more of my work has been as a management consultant; specializing in strategic planning, productivity, and business turnarounds.
In plain English, that means helping CEO's and their companies define who they are, where they want to be in 5 or 10 years; and then helping them develop clear, written plans with specific measurable goals for getting there. I also help them implement -- by training them in team-building and productivity. This allows companies to achieve Win-Win-Win results; a win for the customers, a win for the employees, and a win for the companies who put their wealth at risk to create value for the economy. Sometimes this includes what businessmen call turnarounds; starting with a company that is in trouble -- sometimes near bankruptcy -- and helping it become efficient and productive.
While this can require the use of sophisticated tools, most of it isn't rocket science. It s pretty fundamental stuff. What is required includes the ability to:
a. Face reality as it is, not as we wish it to be,
b. Admit our mistakes, and learn from them,
c. Step back to question the fundamental assumptions that had been taken for granted, and
d. Make and implement hard decisions.
In short, I know leadership when I see it. I know good strategy when I see it.
For members of the Second Amendment movement I recommend Al Dunlap's book, MEAN BUSINESS: How I Save Bad Companies, and Made Good Companies Great, as an example of good strategy. You will find many parallels -- both good and bad. The bad news includes some of the same self-defeating practices we are commonly guilty of. (You may be reminded of Pogo's, "We have met the enemy, and they is us." ) But there is also good news. You'll see Dunlap execute business, organizational, marketing, and financial strategies -- in a manner that any competent manager could adapt to Second Amendment goals.
So what is meant by "New Paradigms in the Civil-Rights Movement?"
A paradigm is how one defines the question, or more accurately, the unstated assumptions in a question. For example, early astrologers struggled to create a calendar which could accurately predict the movement of the heavenly bodies around the Earth. Notice how the question was defined. Until Copernicus with his theory, and Galilao, with the data gathered from his telescope, taught us that heavenly bodies do not move around the earth, it was impossible to create an accurate calendar because of how the question was asked. The answer was in finding a better way to state the question.
In business, new paradigms -- new ways of defining the question -- or new ways of thinking out of the box include:
1. Sam Walton -- rather than competing head-to-head against larger, more powerful retailers in high-priced malls -- opened his first warehouse-discount store in the giant megalopolis of Bentonville, Arkansas -- where the leading occupation had been jury duty.
2. Domino's Pizza -- rather than competing against strong, established chains and restaurants to fill their stores with customers -- instead took their stores to the customer -- with a revolutionary delivery system.
3. Hospitals -- in an industry with 50% of their beds empty, and an industry-average-net-profit of $0 -- reversed the question of how to fill their beds with sick people, and developed the concept of wellness centers, which have succeeded in generating much higher occupancy with much higher profit-margins.
It is very likely that the United States wouldn't exist in the form we know it if the Founders hadn't re-defined the question. They began petitioning for rights of Englishmen. Ultimately, they fought for and won rights of Americans -- rooted in English rights -- but taking several steps beyond; not the least of which is -- Englishmen were (and still are) subjects of the sovereign -- while Americans are citizens who own the sovereign. That's pretty fundamental.
Reality as it is, not as we wish it? We in the Second Amendment movement are losing because (a) we confuse symptoms with problems and fail to accurately define the real problem, and (b) we fail to develop a real long-term strategy to take the initiative and win.
1. For example, do you think we have a PR problem? Or that the media aren't fair? Or that politicians who claim to support the Second Amendment turn on us by voting for anti-gun bills? Those aren't problems. Those are symptoms of a (much) larger problem.
2. Do you think we are winning because there are now 31 states with concealed-carry laws? If you think so, you may wish to reconsider. As Dan Polsby said in the March 24th issue of the National Review, we are kidding ourselves, because in the national debate we are losing, and losing badly.
How can this be when the scholarly data is on our side?
Perception is reality. -- All politicians can count. Polsby didn't provide answers, but he correctly stated the problem. In a democracy, public policy is tailored to what the people believe, no matter what the facts might be. For weapons policy the point is not the connection between guns and violence -- but how people see the connection. In the current atmosphere, cheerleading for gun rights will look mighty like cheering for murder and suicide and opposing common decency.
The larger message -- if people don't believe in each of the specifics in the Bill of Rights, sooner or later all those rights will be footnotes in history -- by popular vote. The anti-civil rights forces have their own long-term strategic plans to whittle-down the Bill of Rights to nothing.(Some argue that 8 of 10 of the Bill of Rights are already gutted.) Henry Kissinger said, "You're not paranoid if they are really out to get you." We are in a war of information, and they are out to get us. Their Marxis-styled war of deceit is well-documented -- most recently in Radical Son, by David Horowitz. Until we face these realities, and adequately define "the question" - the real question -- we have little hope of success.
What are the New Paradigms? Our battle is not for the Second Amendment -- it is for the Bill of Rights. Our targets are not shooters or politicians -- but opinion leaders and the voting public. Our goal -- is to win over the hearts and minds of the American public. This is our new paradigm. This is our turnaround.
Sound grandiose? Maybe not.
David Kopel has said the Bill of Rights isn't for conservatives to protect their property or guns, or for liberals to protect filthy speech or rights of accused. Those rights were meant to hang together. To the extent any of the rights are abridged, all are at risk. Or as Dr. Martin Luther King said, " Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere."
Our priority may be the Second Amendment, but our perspective must be civil rights.
Charlton Heston's 3-year campaign to save the Second Amendment is wonderful, and very much needed. But that campaign is to our long-term goals as the original 13 Colonies were to the United States.
But first we must define who we are, and where we are going. As Lewis Carroll said in Alice in Wonderland, If you don t know where you are going, any road will get you there.
So who are we? There is nothing inherently wrong with being, say, a small group of target or bird shooters -- anymore than being a membership-organization of 20-million. But given the political and societal realities, unless we figure out a way to make allies of people who have no interest in picking up a gun we could end up in the same fix as in Great Britain or Australia. As my friend, Dr. Suzanna Gratia Hupp said, The Second Amendment ain't about duck hunting.
We need allies. Alone, we can't win hearts and minds here -- any more than we could in Vietnam. We need conservatives, liberals, and agnostics -- who may or may not have an interest in guns -- but with whom we can forge common bonds in the Bill of Rights and the values that made this country.
1. Do you really want to face reality as it is, and not as we wish it to be? Politicians don't turn on us. Politicians vote anti-Second Amendment, anti-Civil rights, because it gives them power. If it had been necessary for him to gain the Presidency, even Bill Clinton would have been pro-gun. Perception is reality. All politicians can count.
2. So we need the people from A.C.L.U. -- as they need us. We need the environmentalists. We need the libertarians, the churches, the unions, the doctors, the sociologists, and the teachers. We need the children. Most of all we need the voting public. If we have them, the media and politicians will follow.
(So how do we do this?)
Like a well-run business with competitors trying to put it our of business, we must have clear, written, long-term strategic plans. This can help us with many things, including:
First: A clear definition who we are and what we stand for -- not against.
Second: Clearly-defined and measurable goals, enabling us to take the initiative. Politics is almost inherently short-term oriented, so in the absence of clear, long-term plans it is almost impossible not to get pulled into defensiveness by reacting to the opposition's initiatives. With long-term goals, it is easier to make incremental, short-term gains toward our objectives. By taking and maintaining the initiative, it is easier to manage the public debate, frame the issues and get good press. Our tests have proven that.
Third: Finding a Ronald Reagan leader -- or several of them -- who are good T.V. communicators, friendly, welcoming, inclusive, bringing more people into the efforts; but absolutely reliable and unwavering on principles and fundamental values. There can be more than one, and they should include women. Rebecca John Wyatt and Dr. Suzanna Gratia Hupp are good examples. Both are warm, articulate, and effective communicators. Rebecca is as good with the data as anyone. Suzanna is the only person I know who successfully got Representative Charles Schumer to shut up! Fourth: No compromising on principles! We can pick our battles, and it can be appropriate to compromise to achieve an advance-ment toward our goals. We should never compromise our principles. We should never compromise with the people who are out to get us. Compromising with the devil is a losing strategy! Winston Churchill strongly condemned Neville Chamberlain s treaty with Hitler as appeasement. An appeaser, according to Churchill, is someone who throws his children to the crocodile, in hopes the Crocodile will eat him last!
1. How often have we been maneuvered into campaigning for our gun control bills (and it's not the gun that is being controlled -- it's the civil-rights of the law-abiding) because our anti-rights bill curbs rights of the law-abiding less than their anti-rights bill? Often, both are bad bills, exhibiting our failure to have taken the initiative to frame the issues correctly.
2. To that end, how could we support any but Representative Helen Chenoweth's bill to totally repeal the Lautenberg amendment? The Lautenberg law is totally bad, of questionable Constitutionality, and questionable ancestry. (Question-able ancestry is lawyer-talk for S.O.B.) We screwed up when we allowed it to be passed in the first place. It needs to be totally repealed!
In the real world, compromise happens. But compromise on principle should never be tolerated. In facing reality as it is -- not as we wish it to be -- we should recall Churchill's promise.
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, sweat, and tears. We are facing exciting opportunities -- if we know how to manage them. Like the Soviet Union in its final years, the anti-civil rights forces in the United States are big, scary, dangerous -- and from outward appearances -- well-funded and nearly invulnerable. But behind the facade is little depth and staying-power.
It was Ronald Reagan who was willing to stand firm on principles, develop the plan, and expend the resources to deter aggression. He knew where he was going, and he never wavered. In the face of such resolve, an already weakened Soviet Union folded. Arming to deter aggression ultimately served non-violence.
History can repeat itself, but it will take our leadership, effort, and resolve:
The anti-civil rights forces in this country will continue to advance if we let them. But their flaws are more apparent. It's not for nothing that Rush Limbaugh became a millionaire. The absurdity of the opposition is their Achilles heel. The credible scholarly data is on our side, and they know it.
Much like the N.A.A.C.P. during the first half of this century, we are many people, with many different interests, doing many different things, but all for common civil rights goals. It is in our interest to pull as many people into the effort as we can.
Our plan must be long-term in orientation, large-scale in perspective, and inclusive in its execution. We must bring as many allies as possible into the effort. Most important, it must clearly state what we are for -- not against -- to help us gain the initiative. Then we must implement -- with an ongoing policy of always seeking the initiative. The job isn't easy -- but it is simple if we keep our heads and work together.
If we do, there is reason for optimism. Despite the day-to-day media trash, there is an underlying wisdom, goodness, and strength among the people of this country. They are ready to hear our message. It is our job -- our responsibility -- to manage and deliver it effectively.
Civil rights, at a minimum, includes the right to defend your life -- and the lives of your babies. If it saves one life, it s worth it! -- so -- Let s do it for the children-!
Bob Heinritz is an honors graduate in management and law, and a member of the Bar of the states of Arizona, Illinois, and Missouri. He is a former trial lawyer, and now a business attorney and management consultant, specializing in strategic planning, productivity, and business turnarounds.