A PLEA FOR POLITICAL COMPASSION | Speech Writing

A room full of conservatives, libertarians, and progressives. The task: Give a speech that speaks to all of them. Give a speech that UNITES.

Some would call that a fool's errand. I would call it my favorite sociological challenge. I wrote and delivered this 16 minute keynote speech for the Friedman Conference in Sydney, Australia. A few days later I was receiving phone calls from speech writers in DC asking me to consult for them. 

"The labels that help bond YOU in here are the same labels that separate you from your loved ones out there. Democrat, republican, conservative, even, dare I say, libertarian: These labels grossly oversimplify who you are. And who they are. They divide us before we have a chance to find our common ground."

"When my abuelo died in Cuba, he was a broken man. Decades after his family had fled the island, he was still waging a war against the Imperial West. "Abajo con los yankees, down with the Americans," he would say. 

 

Of course he would. 

After fighting so hard in the 1950s to overthrow one dictator, Batista, in the name of another, Castro, after so many in his generation shed blood on the battlefield, 

losing their sons and daughters to a revolution that at the time not only felt right, it felt necessary, then after being inculcated with a patriotism so poisoned with resentment and radicalism that he stopped speaking to the loved ones who had fled abroad (like my mother) and he turned over to the State those who had stayed behind but didn’t share his political views...

 

This man lost everything he’d held dear for a corrupt revolution… that he CHOSE. How does he reconcile that--cognitively? To allow yourself to consider that maybe you were wrong? Or that maybe what was once right, is no longer? That carries a cognitive price too heavy to bare for most, if not, all of us. 

If you want to shift people from one ideology to another, assume you know NOTHING about the cognitive price that person would have to pay to even consider your ideas. Maybe THEN you’ll start your argument, not with a statistic, but with a hug and some empathy."

"When we shield ourselves inside communities with whom we share the same grievances- that’s not community. That’s tribalism, community’s evil twin. Community bonds over shared love of one another. Tribalism bonds over shared hate of someone else."

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