Effective versus Right

I take my job seriously. I always want to improve my performance. To that end I’m reading tons of books on all subjects related to business (only evidence-based theory, no guru crap), listening to podcasts, and reading business blogs.

The one theme I’ve picked up from all those sources is that at times you’ll have a choice between being “effective” or “right”. Effective means you get the results you want. Right means you win the argument or you are proven correct by events or history. At times, and in a perfect world, you would be both effective and right. However, we live in the real world so you often have to choose, and if you have to choose, you should always choose to be effective.

As I started to think of examples from my work, I realized that this is the problem with the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is too often concerned with being right at the expense of being effective. The Republican Party doesn’t care if it is right, it’s effective. When their policy positions don’t meet with reality or their voting record, they still win.

Just take Obamacare (just the fact that the Affordable Care Act is called this is a hint at their effectiveness). Barack Obama ran on universal health care, he won a clear majority, the Democratic Party won a clear majority, people polled supported Health Care Reform, so we’re right! We were right, but they were effective. They won concessions from Democrats before there were even negotiations! The bill that came out was a shell of what we were promised. It passed by the slimmest of margins, and with no Republicans voting for it. And they ran against it in the mid-terms and won. They don’t care about being right, they care about winning.

Democrats and liberals are often portrayed as intellectual elitists, and sometimes we can be a little too intellectual/academic for our own good. We debated the Bush administration on legal and moral terms, and were mostly right. They fought it on emotional terms and mostly won. We fought health care on financial (it will save the country billions) and medical (don’t you want to be able to go to the doctor?) reasons, they scared people with Death Panels and they mostly won (though they act like they lost).

We try to use logic and they use emotion. They’re wrong on most issues, but the country is being shifted right and the Democrats are doing nothing to stop it. Democrats think that if they just presented the facts people would see, but they never do. “The American people are smarter than that,” I hear pundits say, but where’s the proof.

I’d hate to see us adopt their tactics, but what’s the alternative? A “moral” victory? Being right doesn’t get lower income kids affordable education, it doesn’t feed the hungry, it doesn’t end wars overseas, and it doesn’t solve our dependence on oil. Effectiveness does those things.  Shouldn’t the Democrats work at least as hard as I do to improve job performance?

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