Ron Paul and the pink slip that could decide the election

By Jack and Suzy Welch
January 26, 2012

Have you ever woken up in the morning knowing you have to let someone go and just felt sick to your stomach? It’s the worst part of work, isn’t it? Even when it’s absolutely necessary — the money isn’t there or the employee hasn’t been contributing for ages — the emotional pain and mess of sending someone home is every good leader’s bête noire.

To make matters worse, letting someone go is, without doubt the moment when every leader is the most likely to screw up. Really screw up. Because when you fire a person the wrong way — that is, without generosity and respect — you can be sure of two things.

You’ve hurt someone unnecessarily.

And you’ve set up your organization for a future relationship from hell. After all, terminated employees don’t just fade away. They usually reappear, and pretty rapidly, as customers, suppliers, distributors, or in the worst-case scenario, competitors with an ax to grind.

By the way, this is a column about Ron Paul.

Yes, Ron Paul, and here’s why. The maxims of business and politics don’t always overlap, but when it comes to parting ways, they sure do. In business, firing someone incorrectly is a disaster that can haunt you for years. Same in politics.

Now, the GOP isn’t technically going to “fire” Dr. Paul. But look, even Ron Paul knows he’s not going to unpack his suitcases in the Lincoln Bedroom. At some point, his wildly entertaining, Don Quixote-like campaign for the White House is going to run out of time.

And then?

And then, GOP, watch out! Sure, it appears Paul is unlikely to mount a third-party campaign — he’s said so himself. But he’s also unlikely to spend the next few months out on the stump for the nominee, or even in dutiful silence. In fact, you can easily imagine Paul as an outspoken TV commentator from now until November, basically running without running just to keep his ideas in the mix.

But Paul is not really the GOP’s problem. It’s his followers, perhaps as much as 15 percent of the general electorate, many of them young, vocal and highly energized. Like Paul himself, they’re not exactly party regulars. No, Paul and his followers promise to be a lot like that fired employee who, if “handled” incorrectly at farewell, will make it his life’s work to, if not bring your organization down, at least show you how very wrong you were to cut the cord.

The Republican Party would be flat-out careless to let that happen. Dr. Paul’s exit isn’t exactly going to be unexpected. Plus, the GOP leadership has an excellent example of how to correctly part ways right under its nose — in President Obama’s masterful handling in 2008 of Hillary Clinton, a bitter opponent right to the end, and Joe Biden, an early loser in the Democratic primary race. Both of these “terminated” rivals, along with Bill Clinton and his minions, could have easily spent Obama’s general-election campaign and his first term engaged in subterfuge, natter-nattering to the media about the Newbie-in-Chief’s every little misstep. Instead, Hillary Clinton was given a big job and a big jet and the opportunity to become the most popular woman in America. And rather than being trundled back to his commuter seat on the Amtrak to Delaware, the gaffe-ridden Biden was anointed vice-president and given the not-insignificant job of humanizing the more aloof Obama, a role he clearly relishes.

And so it must be with the RNC and Ron Paul. There can be no brush-off. No “Phew, he’s gone. Now let’s get down to business.” No booby prize. Ron Paul needs to be given a role that really means something to him –- a role with influence and voice.

The details of this role are not for us to identify — they can only emerge from the kind of good-faith negotiations that party officials should initiate soon with the candidate. All we can say is, in this kind of setting, as in the best-practice business parting, the “victor” must err on the side of bigheartedness and dignity. Whatever speaking role Dr. Paul wants at the convention, give it to him. If he wants some sort of advisory role in the new administration, the answer is: “Of course.” Like a business leader designing a severance package with a key player, the GOP leadership’s mindset must be: “When he walks out that door, Ron Paul is going to be a friend for life.”

Because if he isn’t, Ron Paul and his followers will make their unhappiness known. And for the mishandling of this defining moment, the GOP will deserve their ire.

Just like any leader who botches goodbye.

Jack Welch was the CEO of General Electric for 21 years and is the founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University. Suzy Welch is an author, speaker and the former Editor of the Harvard Business Review.

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate U.S .Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) makes a point during the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Florida January 26, 2012. REUTERS/Scott Audette



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J & S Welch,

Your article speaks volumes, however dont you think its a tad too late to extend the olive branch considering the GOP (and its media outlets) have dogged Ron Paul since 2007? Now they want our votes, and based on how Ron Paul has been treated in the media – I almost think I would get a kick out of the GOP losing the election to Obummer should Dr. Paul not make the nomination. Perhaps this will give the GOP another 4 years to reflect (not that they seem to do much thinking at all these days — but perhaps there is hope). The GOP needs to think carefully on this less the elephant succumb to the fate of the woolly mammoth. Already people disaffected by both parties are coming together in org’s like AmericansElect which looks like it may have more of a future than the GOP. Either way im still voting for Paul – one should never compromise ones beliefs.

Posted by steve_77 | Report as abusive

Giving Ron Paul a prime speaking role at the Tampa Convention isn’t going to mean anything if all the other speakers contradict everything he says that is most important – ending the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, and the War on Money (i.e., the FED). For Paulites to vote for the GOP ticket this fall and that to make any sense will require, at the least, that Rand Paul is the V-P nominee and heir presumptive to the presidential candidate, and that Ron Paul will be named to serve as the new chair of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank System. Whatever mischief another Republican President would get up to in the next four years (and it won’t be any worse than Obama, if reelected) can be recompensed by those two accomplishments and what they promise for the future.

Posted by wrdalton | Report as abusive

If only more people understood Liberty and economics. Ron Paul would be the winner for sure.

Posted by David_SD | Report as abusive

Is Mr. Warbucks really so dense as to believe the Ron Paul revolutionaries will be mollified by a “severance package”? – a “lovely parting gift”? Try to understand, Jack. Those Ron Paul voters have no more in common with the arms merchants and corporatists of the GOP than they do with the socialists of the Democratic Party. The Ron Paul voter does not seek a consolation prize from the GOP establishment. The Ron Paul voter seeks to REPLACE the GOP establishment.

Posted by JiveDadson | Report as abusive

I just watched the video. The firing-an-employee analogy is disgustingly condescending. Jack, you are not the boss of me.

Posted by JiveDadson | Report as abusive

Who knows?

Ron Paul might help Romney win independant, and loyal young voters IF Romney chooses him to be the running mate.

The conservatives evangelicals have nowhere else to go but to vote Republican. It’s the young and independant voters loyal to Ron Paul, who can help Romney win.

It is not fair to call Ron Paul a Don Quixote. For one thing, he doesn’t have a horse, or initiate duels, or vow to protect fair maidens.

Ron Paul just reasons from common sense, and points out some ridiculously senseless things our Government has been doing, from generation to generation in American politics even when the initial impetus for the tradition had long ceased to exist. That’s all. That’s no Don Quixote-like at all.

The Republican leadership is unwise to see him as “only” the unelectable third party leader.
Strangely, some may think, he is the only person who seem to be able to “reason” with and influence the Tea Party loyalists by logic, and not by blind rhetoric — something the Republican leadership is incapable of doing, for whatever reason. That’s a reality, however unconventional or counter-intuitive as to the cause and effect. It’s an undeniable phenomenon that the Republican leadership would be very unwise to brush aside.

Posted by sagesseanco | Report as abusive

This column is a perfect example of why Jack Welsh is revered in business and so he should be. There are far too few real leaders like Welch. More’s the pity.

Posted by wyldbill | Report as abusive

Like being careful on how you cut off an old spouse?

Posted by Shrugged1984 | Report as abusive

What you mean Suzy and Jack are still together – what little darlings they are.

Posted by wallynm | Report as abusive

The Ron Paul supporters are grossly underestimated. If the Republican Party offered Ron Paul the Vice President position, they would beat Obama. Add the adult independent and Libertarian voters to your very low number of students and ka-boom!
The Republicans are giving away the election to Obama. I will personally not-vote or vote for any third party or independent to register my disgust with the Republicans poor line-up. The Republican party will just pick some looser for V.P. anyway just to show it is thier way or not at all.
While I don’t like Obama, to vote for a slightly lesser evil would just be wrong. Obama will bankrupt our country slightly faster than the Republican candidate. Lets get it over with and start re-building sooner, not later.
If the Republican Party put Ron Paul up for V.P., not only would they win the election, but Ron Paul would have the time to investigate and change the banking system.

Posted by MarketPawn | Report as abusive

Ron Paul is running for President Rand Paul. The GOP does not need to curry favor with this crowd of selfish,ideological cynics. They do not know nor respect the GOP, they will destroy America with their obsolete, bizarre dogma. Let them circle the GOP squealing like a roasting pig in their fire of intolerance.

Posted by Stanley7746 | Report as abusive

Jack Welsh obviously has no clue about Ron Paul supporters. They are not truly part of the Republican Party, they are an independent third party who has operated within the Republican Party out of necessity. The corporate military industrial complex, Wall Street and the Fed, and the Zionists hold the purse strings, and pull those strings to animate Republican and Democrat puppets, and those establishment forces despise Ron Paul and his Paulite Party as much as the Paulite despise the establishment.

There will be no olive branch, no severance package from the Republican establishment to buy off the Paulites, but if there is, the Paulites will reject it, they want nothing from the likes of Romney, and they will not vote for him, to a member of the Paulite Party, a vote for Romney is absolutely no different than a vote for Obama.

And here is some reality for the the Paulites: Hell will freeze over before Paul or his supporters gain any real power that might actually threaten the banksters and their Zionist wars. Paul would get what they gave to JFK if he ever got into a position to be able to enact his ideas.

Posted by Chainmaker | Report as abusive

@Stanley7746, I have to say your comments are amusing bizarre. Pray tell what obsolete, bizarre dogma may you be speaking about. Maybe it’s the idea of living within your means? Or could it be eventually putting an end to an institution that robs every american who tries to save money of their wealth (Here an idea of how much we’ve all been screwed over) inflation (i.e. increase in the money supply not the silly idea of an increase in general prices since when money is injected into the economy it is impossible to predict how it will flow) of 2% means that the value of your savings or pension has been cut in half after 35 years. What has the Fed been increasing the money supply by, say 15-20%? How much of the value of your pension has been wiped out? Maybe 30% if not more in the last 3 years. And note that none of the other clowns in the Republican party even acknowledge this!?! And you think these ideas are bizarre?!?

Or maybe it’s the idea of reducing the size of the Federal government that you find bizarre. Stanley have you noticed that the government has spent $1.5 trillion more than it brought in via taxes. Even if you tax the rich at 100% you still will not make a dent in that figure.

Or maybe it’s the idea of not attacking a country that has not attacked anyone in more than 140 years (i.e. Iran) especially as they clearly don’t have a nuclear weapon nor the defence capability to do anything other than maybe defend itself. Given that Gen. Wesley Clark said back in 2002 that the US State Dept had a document outlining that the US would attack Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran in order to change the regimes, is it really any surprise that all sorts of fabrications are being made in order to justify an attack. But little of you is a bit too daft to see through the mist.

I would say that maybe in the interest of self preservation you should take a bit of time and think through what you’re saying before you decide to comment on what you clearly don’t know! It’s one thing to be the fool, it’s a whole other matter to be the fool following the fool.

Posted by thurstjo2012 | Report as abusive

The GOP has 4 diverse candidates running. They all need to be part of the solution. Regardless of who wins, Ron Paul appeals to the youth and the wise. He will bring in independents and a lot of Democrats in the general election.
Republicans will not win by knocking down Obama, they will win on offering a real solution to the “jobs” situation and
keeping reversing the economic tide for the country.


Posted by PRCallaghan | Report as abusive

Ah dear Jack -a you sent GEs massive medical imaging biz to India where you can pay slave wages on machines you sell for perhaps tens of millions each.

Thanks for doing your part to destroy jobs in America. Republicans – who only know one word ME ME ME

Posted by SteveMD2 | Report as abusive

We want our Liberty back, and won’t stop until we get it.

Posted by Tomcat1964 | Report as abusive