In about 1970 I left the factory floor to embark on a brief sales career for the same company, a large steel company in Milwaukee. I was pretty good at it, not great, but I liked the production environment a lot better and was back in the plant after a few years. It was, however, a valuable experience and I’m glad I did it.
A couple of things that my mentor taught me had to do with my attitude about competitors. For one thing he was adamant that I never sell my own company by means of criticizing our competitors. He said that doing so made me look weak and my company look ineffective. The people who sell that way, he told me, come across to the buyer as having no confidence in their own products and services. “You talk,” he said, “about what we have to offer, and never about how bad the other guy is.”
The other thing was more internal, and was about respecting ones competitors. “It is they,” he would say, “who require us to be as good as we are.” If we had bad competitors we could ship junk, but because we had good competitors, then we have to always strive for excellence. As a result we can take pride in what we do.
I have never forgotten that lesson, and I try to let it guide my personal life as well as my business and political pursuits.
When I look at the political arena, and particularly the liberal side of that arena, I am struck by how that guidance seems to be so desperately missing. The commentary from the left is almost entirely about how bad the opposition is; about the need to vote for Obama not because of any good that he will do, but because it is necessary for him to win to prevent the world-ending horror of a win by the other side.
Indeed, it is such utter horror of the opposition that permits Obama to engage in such illiberal governance and retain to support of his liberal base. Romney accuses him of “blocking offshore drilling,” and Obama loyalists immediately respond with a defense that he has opened up vast areas for offshore drilling. What? If a Republican had “opened up vast areas for offshore drilling” Democrats would be horrified, but here they are using that in defense of their adored heroic leader.
Nora O’Donnel said on CBS News the other night something to the effect that Republicans are united in their desire to oust Obama and are voting against him, while Democrats are voting for Obama. Yet, the rhetoric in left wing discussion, while being that “we have to vote for Obama,” offers no reasons for doing so other than to keep “the other side” from winning.