If you’re going to win in politics you first have to know what politics actually is.
Most of us believe politics is simply how we advance public policy in America, or cynically define it the way Obi-Wan Kenobi once defined the Mos Eisley spaceport in the original Star Wars: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Those may be examples of what politics does or politics becomes, but that’s not what politics is.
Politics is primarily two things.
First, politics is faith and ethics in action. A study done by a University of Virginia psychologist said Americans today are the most politically polarized we’ve ever been in our history, and the primary reason for the polarization is a difference in morality. What determines our morality? Our faith and ethics.
Second, politics is how we conduct civil war in this country.
When we (conservatives, Christians, constitutionalists, Libertarians – all those that make up the right-of-center coalition in this country) view politics as a simple debate over public policy, and not how we conduct civil war in this country, we will lose every time. The other side understands this, which is why they ruthlessly pursue their agenda and worldview with far less concern for public opinion than we do.
That’s what is so unique about America’s political system, despite all its flaws. Most of the time in human history when a society can no longer come to a consensus on the definition of its most basic institutions and rights, it leads to coup d’état or civil war. Even our nation, which has the longest-standing Constitution in human history, has been unable to avoid such bloodshed in our past.
Thankfully, we usually end up resolving these disputes at the ballot box. Politics is a substitute for civil war, and it’s also a variation of it. For further evidence just look at the terminology we often use in talking about the nuts and bolts of politics, like a campaign “war chest” or “propaganda.” Those are terms of warfare.
No war is won by “nicing” the enemy to death.
To paraphrase George C. Scott’s famous film portrayal of General Patton: “You don’t win a war by dying for your cause, you win a war by making the other son of a gun die for his.”
To make the other son of a gun die for his cause in politics you have to beat him in the arena of ideas, and then casualties are inflicted at the ballot box. Notice I didn’t say maiming or wounding. I said casualties. A maimed or wounded enemy is among the most dangerous, for he has nothing to lose.
A dead enemy is a former enemy. In combat you win by inflicting devastation and casualties upon your enemy on such a massive scale that you either annihilate them or they quit. It is the same in politics.
Right now in America we have one side playing to win, and another side playing not to lose. One side plays chess, the other side plays checkers. One side is fighting a war, the other side is posturing. Nationally, our side has been in a prevent defense pretty much since Reagan left office, and any good football fan knows the prevent defense just prevents you from winning.
The base of the GOP is still primarily made up of those willing to pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for the cause of liberty. But they are lions led by the lambs in the feckless GOP leadership. They are not warriors. They are bureaucrats. The difference is a warrior takes territory while a bureaucrat protects his own.
Warriors don’t negotiate with the enemy, they provoke him to surrender. When was the last time Republican Party leadership forced the Democrats to surrender on anything? Sadly enough, the leadership of the Republican Party gets destroyed by the Left and its propaganda arm in the media with the exact same demagoguery and harsh rhetoric it would receive if they actually were a threat.
John McCain and Mitt Romney were hardly movement conservatives, but once they won the GOP presidential nomination the Left treated them like they were members of the John Birch Society.
The Mitt McCains of the world waste their entire political careers declaring “peace in our time” with the enemy, desperately trying to show them they’re not like those dastardly conservatives they despise. Then once they reach the summit, the liberal enemy they spent all those years pandering to pummels them with the exact same blitzkrieg of political propaganda they would pound any principled conservative with.
Since today’s American Leftists have much in common with the totalitarian regimes in the former Soviet Union and China (statism, child killing on demand, anti-Christian, anti-liberty, coddling dictators and Islamic radicals, etc.), I see no reason to restrain ourselves from treating them accordingly. If these folks get their way, our entire civilization will be undone. We can’t be a little bit pagan. We can’t be a little bit statist. We’re either the America we were founded to be or we are not.
One of the dumbest things in football is a receiver getting what’s called “alligator arms,” which means the receiver didn’t fully extend his arms to catch the ball because he anticipated he was going to get hit hard by the defensive player if he did. Except more often than not the defensive player is behind the receiver, so he can’t tell if he actually caught the ball or not. That’s why defensive players are coached to hit the receiver anyway in anticipation of breaking up the pass. Thus, it’s never made any sense to me why a receiver would get alligator arms, since he’s going to get hit just as hard regardless. If you’re going to get hit anyway, why not fully extend your arms to make the catch to make the pain worth it?
We need political warriors who count the cost of not doing something at least as much as they count the cost of doing something. A receiver who counts the cost of getting hit gets alligator arms, but a receiver who counts the cost of not making the catch fully extends to make the play. Likewise, a politician who counts the cost of being criticized by those that will never support him anyway will buckle, but a politician who counts the cost of not defending Constitutional principles will stand firm.
That’s why “never attack what you’re not willing to kill” is one of the first commandments of political warfare. If you only shoot to injure your enemy, he doesn’t try to kill you less once he heals and gets back on the battlefield because you didn’t kill him the first time.
No, he comes back with a vengeance, and when he does he will give you no credit for showing him restraint. So you at might as well go for the metaphorical kill-shot (see that as the win).
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.