To illustrate what we could share in this section, let’s take a page from an episode of the popular television program The West Wing, quoted by Kristen Grimm, at Spitfire Strategies, 2013:
A Congressional staffer asks the president’s Deputy Communications Director Sam (Rob Lowe) to support an effort to eliminate the copper penny. Upon first glance, this seems straightforward: Armed with research, Sam notes to a colleague that the majority of pennies don’t circulate, but instead end up in jars and sock drawers.
As the episode continues, Sam finds more rational reasons for eliminating the penny, including the impact that mining copper has on the environment. He eventually concludes, “The only things pennies interact with are those machines that wrap pennies to get rid of pennies.” Sounds like case closed. Goodbye penny. But Sam is making a rookie mistake. He is underestimating how the decision to eliminate the penny will happen and by whom. As his colleague, Josh, succinctly points out, Sam’s argument for eliminating the penny—even though backed by facts—will never be approved by the House of Representatives:
Josh: Sam, where is the Speaker of the House from?
Josh: Land of Lincoln.
Going after the penny would mean going after Lincoln’s legacy and could have significant political fallout for the Speaker. This effort, which at first seemed pretty straightforward, just got really complicated.