This post was slated to be the political complement, focusing on how to behave civilly as a no-longer-majority. I thought it would be easy to write. After all, I'd figured out what I wanted to say about being a minority in the social sphere. Could it be that much harder to figure out how to be a minority in the political sphere?
As it turns out, YES, it is much harder. My rules for being a minority boiled down to:
- Don't act like you own it (the town, the city, the country).
- Live and let live.
Live and let live isn't a rule that works in a zero-sum game, and some aspects of politics are zero-sum: I win the election and you lose. My group defeats the legislation your group wants.
So I failed to come up a set of rules for being a well-behaved political minority. But I had some interesting thoughts on the way to ultimate failure:
- Pre-1994, Republicans had been the minority party in Congress for decades. They were used to it, and knew how to be a well-behaved minority. They could carp at Democrats, embarrass them, try to score points, try to block them, convert a few to their side, but it wasn't all out war.
- Republicans have been in power more often than out of power over the past 30 years. However, it has been a tenuous hold. When they lose an election, it may feel like they're losing on two fronts--politically and demographically. This is probably partially mistaken, since the GOP is in no danger of slipping into permanent political minority status.
- Don't picket the homes of political actors. Everyone, even a politician, deserves a quiet, unbesieged home.
- Elsewhere, making your voice heard is an important right. Progress doesn't usually come from excessive politeness. That's part of the reason I failed to formulate a set of rules. Too polite equals no results.
Not the homes... or funerals
What we want to say to political minorities:
Update 2/9/12. I remember some other tenets for political minorities.
- Don't be the tail wagging the dog. If your views are in the minority, grow your cause. Don't try to prematurely force your views upon the group or the country. That doesn't mean you have to keep quiet (don't keep quiet), but don't hijack the organization, every discussion, or take hostages to force your issue.