“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” – from The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, 6th century BC.
Lately there’s been a lot of chatter about PE Obama’s choice of conservative evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the religious invocation at his
January 20 presidential inauguration ceremony. The controversy surrounds each man’s stance on gay rights – particularly marriage. Only, this post is neither about gay marriage nor obese people paying more for airfare – even though I’m pro both. Rather, this is a post about political warfare.
A few years ago when Obama was cutting his teeth in Chicago, you didn’t know about him. Yet on January 20, he’ll become our 44th President. How? Simply stated, he’s smart. A lot smarter than you might think he is. Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a Harvard law professor and a mentor of
Mr. Obama, said, “He can enter your space and organize your thoughts
without necessarily revealing his own concerns and conflicts.” The last part of that statement is particularly important since Obama has clearly understands that when you’re trying to get people to agree with you about something, it’s important to keep the focus on them. In selecting Warren to deliver the invocation, not only did Obama ‘reach across’ lines to appeal to those who didn’t vote for him – he is reaching out to a person (Warren) who maintains an impressive constituency. A person with big influence – over people who don’t necessarily like Obama and his policies. But, Obama knows that in order for him to help lift this country out of the rut we’re in – it will take more than words or money. It will take mass mobilization. Imagine if a year or two from now, Warren’s sermons shift slightly – toward the center. Not because he had an epiphany, but because of the relationship he has with the president. No, Warren is not Obama’s enemy, but the core concept in Tzu’s work is exactly the kind of thing a smart person takes to heart. All it takes is a slight shift to get people to come together on issues. The closer people from both sides are to the center – the better chance to advance change that positively affects the whole.
So you can scream all you want about Warren, but before you say your guy is doing you wrong – stop for a second and consider that he’s a lot smarter than you. Trust. Believe. And watch as both sides begin inching closer to the center over the next four years.
Know thy enemy. Then make them your ally.
Jim Mitchem is a copywriter, father, husband, American and founder of smashcommunications, llc.