Senior staff spent a lot of time on the House Floor. We were technical support on particular legislation and there were usually plenty of seats unoccupied, so it was easier for the congressmen to have us right there.
But when something had the whole membership down there, a lot of us would sit in the Jefferson Room or watch on the TV in the office.
But my position was as an idea man. So by the time something I was working on got the whole House membership there, it was a general issue and I was not needed down there. I would sit in the Visitor’s Gallery, if there was a seat, watching the whole House fighting over an issue I had started rolling.
One of those times another staffer sat near me in the Visitor’s Gallery, and he said, “You got this started, didn’t you?” The two biggies I remember were when I got Ashbrook to get us the weekend when anti-space types were trying to end the space telescope. Another was when I got the organizations in there to stop the IRS from enforcing its self-made rule to force race quotas on private schools.
But there were a number that only I thought of. On the above two, by the way, we won four to one on the Floor with almost the entire membership voting.
The staffer I just mentioned sat near me on another such full House vote, and he said, with some wonder, “You got THIS started, too, didn’t you?”
That made me feel good.
These votes were a lot like the Mantra. I grabbed a subject that regular conservatives would have let slip. Please note that the removal of the Hubble Telescope was going through when I stopped it, and when the whole thing actually got to the Floor, it was beaten about 340-80.
We trounced them by the same margin on the IRS race quotes.
And on most of the things I got to the Floor.
In other words, once I got hold of it and put in plain English, they couldn’t defend the position they were sneaking through. I did that for a living. So the Mantra took me YEARS to plant, and those who try it run right over the opposition.
The opposition can only try to keep it from reaching the Floor.
But at first, in every case of these House issues, I had to work my tail off to the point of passing out sometimes to get people off their asses. General Comments 5 is the fruit of a number of years I spent by myself trying to get the Mantra across.
You should be encouraged by the fact that this is not an accident. I know what can win, even if the entire elected representation and their staffs do not.
I also know how hard it was for the few others on the Hill who Got It each time. They were not as used to the complete blockheadedness of the entire membership and staff they worked with. Some of them quit, but I still won.
Hence my nervous breakdowns.
The next time an issue came from me, everybody had totally forgotten I had gotten it started. It is a very important rule: Some people DO things and others live by taking credit for them.
Instead of being bitter about this, I found it useful. If the other side had KNOWN it was me, they would have watched me like a hawk. So I traded credit for real power, as I have said here many, many times.
I can’t imagine a more powerful position to be in. For you, I cannot imagine a more frustrating position to be in. You are hitting at a target and the entire media is dedicated to keeping anyone from knowing you are doing it.
This is a great time, when you are realizing how helpless the other side is when you have the Mantra and accompanying arguments down pat. I can hardly sit still when I look at General Comments 5.
But this is the phase I went through in those earlier cases, when an enthusiastic group had taken up the cry. But the enthusiasm hit a brick wall every time. People do not take frustration well.
Next year the second phase will begin, when you have been doing this for a year and the novelty is wearing off. It was no fun on the Hill for that enthusiastic group to run into one respectable conservative after another who just DIDN’T GET IT.
That is the time when the enthusiasts start saying, “Well, we tried but it didn’t work.”
I have been through that stage many, many times. But if I kept them at it, it ALWAYS worked.
Your job is to get the Mantra in there.
DON’T TRY TO KEEP SCORE.
The only problem there is now is YOUR getting tired of hitting the message and seeing no obvious results.
Those are the times that try men souls…