When I was a young cavalryman, one name inspired us above all others – General George Patton. If we needed motivation, our leaders would use the legend of Patton and his words to rally us to take that hill.
In 1944, as the Allies were preparing the invasion of France to battle the Nazis, he gave a series of speeches to troopers of the Third Army. It was laced with profanity and motivation, the things soldiers love.
I am now envisioning what his words might be if he were speaking to today’s candidates, consultants and campaign operatives. Please indulge me this satire as I try to pass along this vision. If you’re in for it, see the original speech in all its unrefined glory.
Celebrate the American ideal of being a winner
When you were new to the game of politics and advocacy, you all admired the champion media consultant, the fastest fundraiser, the toughest campaign manager, the big league digital savants, and the All-American data gurus. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. Always stay amazed…and encouraged to become better.
Don’t fear losing
Losing must not be feared. Losing, at some point, comes to all politicos. Yes, every man is scared in his first campaign. If he says he’s not, he’s a liar. The real hero is the candidate who runs even though he is scared. Some candidates get over their fright in a minute on the trail. For others, it takes an hour. For many, it takes days. But a real candidate will never let his or her fear of losing overpower honor, the sense of duty to the campaign.
Every person on the campaign has an indispensable role to play
Every single piece in a campaign plays a vital role. Don’t ever let up. Don’t ever think that your job is unimportant. Every strategist has a job to do, and they must do it. Every staffer is a vital link in the great chain. What if every volunteer suddenly decided that they didn’t like the whine of those attack ads on TV, turned yellow, and jumped headlong into a ditch? The cowardly bastard could say, “Hell, they won’t miss me, just one man in thousands”. But, what if every supporter thought that way? Where in the hell would we be now?
The clear message — always be advancing.
I don’t want to get any messages saying, “I am comfortable where I’m at.” We are not comfortable with a blasted thing. Let the opponents feel that way. We are advancing constantly, on TV, mail, digital, and we are not interested in taking a moment’s break. We are going to twist his favs and kick the living crap out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the opponent.
Campaigns are never pretty
Politics and advocacy is a cutthroat, hardworking business. You’ve got to beat their campaign, or they will beat yours. Rip them up in the polls. Outgun them on TV and the Internet. When attack ads are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it’s the sweat and tears of what once was your supporter base beside you, you’ll know what to do!
Feel like you’re embarking on a great endeavor
You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great 2016 election cycle, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, “Well, your granddaddy shoveled crap in Louisiana.” No, you can look him straight in the eye and say, “Son, your granddaddy rode with the Great Winning Campaign all the way to the Winner’s Circle!”
Patton and his legend were a big part of my training. My fellow troopers and I always enjoyed consuming everything about him. Our leaders were quick to recognize how useful this was to motivate us. Perhaps you too can find similar inspiration for motivating your team when the time comes to build that winning spirit. If you want to discuss further or are just a huge fan of Patton like me, email me.