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The Message Vs. The Messenger:  A Valuable Lesson for the GOP

chris_christie_328_rtrListening to Chris Christie’s acceptance speech as he won his 2nd term as New Jersey governor, I was struck by one statement he made more than anything else. He said, “We don’t just go out to the areas that vote for us a LOT.  We also go out to the areas that vote for us a LITTLE. We don’t just go out to areas where we feel the most comfortable.”

That statement stood out so boldly to me that I actually posted a comment about the fact that Christie “gets it” on my Facebook page, I think before he had even finished his acceptance speech.

I was immediately asked by a friend why everyone is celebrating the win when Christie, in his opinion, is not nearly conservative enough.  My answer was clear. I’m not necessarily “celebrating” the win. I AM, however, pointing out that there is a concept that Christie has a good grasp on and it’s a concept that the rest of the party needs to get.

Whatever you may think of Chris Christie, you have to admit there is one thing he understands … If you want to be more inclusive and win over the hearts and minds and votes of particular segments of the population, you have to be willing to go where those people are.

I hold a masters degree in Clinical Social Work.  One central tenet of social work, particularly in therapy, is to “start where the client is”.  It means that, no matter how misguided, poorly prepared, or disempowered we may think a person is, we cannot start where we think they SHOULD be and yank them to that place.  We must start from right where they are, get right in there with them, in their reality, from their perspective.

Many and varied are the Republican choices.  Everyone chooses his or her preferred candidate for their own personal reasons, and that’s OK. Any step away from the precipice of Socialism is a start back in the right direction.

But, no matter who the candidate, they could all take a lesson to step outside their comfort zones once in a while, leave their own neighborhoods, and really connect with the people they already recognize they need.

Talking in an echo chamber doesn’t bring in new votes, especially in the voting blocs the vast majority of the party has already acknowledged the party needs. Preaching to the choir may bring kudos and applause, and that feels great, but is the goal really to convince the already-convinced?

If the Republican party recognizes that they really need to connect with Hispanic voters, that they want and need more Hispanic votes, Republican candidates need to learn to go where the people are.

I’m not asking anyone to support Christie. What I AM suggesting is that we would be wise to collect kernels of wisdom wherever we find them, even if it seems to come from an unlikely source. And, in this case, Christie happens to offer a kernel of wisdom.

Or maybe it would be better characterized as a pearl. If we are to grow in wisdom, we sometimes have to be wise enough to be able to separate the message from the messenger.

If it makes you feel better, think of it this way – you steal HIS tactic and use it to YOUR desired gain. Take whatever good and encouragement you can, even out of what you may perceive to be the bad … and use it.

Listen up GOP! Governor Christie has given you a gift in the form of a true gem of wisdom. It WORKS. And, in the end, the message is far more important than whether or not you like the messenger.

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