The other day I was re-reading the timeless classic How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and was reminded of some time-tested principles and advice that apply well to the situation facing the Republican party in Utah and more specifically how we seek to influence one another as Republicans.
As the SB 54 drama has ensued, there have been many articles written where the author’s purpose has been to criticize. Criticize leadership of the party, members of the party that wouldn’t raise the threshold at convention, legislators for passage of the bill, and proponents and supporters of Count My Vote. The authors of these articles would do well to remember the wise words of Carnegie: “[c]riticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive, and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses his resentment.”
As an example of the futility of criticism, Carnegie recounts the famous quarrel between Theodore Roosevelt and President William Howard Taft, a very relevant historical example of how criticism split the Republican party, put Woodrow Wilson in the White House, implemented a Progressive era including instituting the Federal Reserve, income tax, and more. Teddy left the White House to Taft and went overseas to hunt lions. When he returned, he criticized the decisions made by Taft while he was away and decided to form the “Bull Moose” party and all but destroyed the GOP. In the election that followed, Taft and the Republicans carried only two states which happened to be the most horrible defeat the Republicans had ever known. Roosevelt blamed Taft. Taft blamed Roosevelt. Did either one of them blame themselves? No. Who was to blame? Roosevelt or Taft? Does it matter? No. All that matters is that all of Roosevelt’s criticisms didn’t persuade Taft he was wrong, it actually made Taft work to justify himself and reiterate publicly how he couldn’t see how he could have done anything differently.
Looking back, could all parties involved have done things differently in regards to working for change in the Republican party? Absolutely. However, if we don’t want Utah to go the way of the Republican party in 1912, we must stop the criticism and move forward with a renewed sense of our mission and purpose as a party. Or, as Carnegie warns, “If you and I want to stir up resentment tomorrow that may rankle across the decades and endure until death, just let us indulge in a little stinging criticism- no matter how certain we are it is justified. Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain- and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
I plead with all members of the Republican party in Utah to stop the criticism, come to the table, and start contributing your thoughtful, productive solutions to help the party in Utah continue to elect the finest Republican candidates to office.