by Jeff Swanson
If, upon entering the war, you expect to win the first battle, failure is assured in your shortsightedness. War is won on the shoulders of both the battles that succeeded but more over, on the battles that were lost. Without the lost battles, you may have missed your opponents key weakness and the opportunity to understand your own.
This is a key understanding missed in today’s politics and clearly, within the Republican party and Conservative movement.
Republicans are so wont to win a victory against Barack Obama that we simply forgot to think strategically. If you think Conservatives are smarter than liberals, in this respect, they have us beat cold.
Thinking strategically is understanding the end objective. An understanding that the steps taken within the strategy are only part of a larger movement. That the tactical steps (or battles) are in support of the greater objective but themselves not the objective.
Republicans and Conservatives seem focused on winning battles and not wars.
During the fiscal cliff battle, Conservatives were ready to go down with the ship. Not that I don’t wholly agree that a fight against raised taxes is a noble fight. Nonetheless, it was not a battle the Republican party was going to win.
Still, we placed every chip on that table and when we lost, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. On Twitter, there was a lot of complaining too.
Pre-sequestergeddan, Maxine Waters told us that we would would lose 170 million jobs. Nancy Pelosi once told us that every month we don’t get an economic recovery package (government spending, that is), we will lose 500 million jobs in America! That’s 200 million more than we have citizens. Even China would last only a coupla months.
How can we lose to these people? They are virtual gaffe machines. Sure, the compliant press set the ear button to ignore. I get that. Still, aside from a compliant press, how can we tactically get beat by someone that can’t even be trusted with using real numbers?
It’s a very simple answer; a dogged and relentless compliance to a strategy.
“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” Sun Tzu, Art of War
Our enemies, if you will, know themselves. They know their greatest weakness is the ragtag coalition of interest groups. They know that these groups can sometimes be at cross purposes. They also know that the greatest strength in their arsenal is the ability to make their opponent look foolish.
And we as Conservatives and Republicans are all too ready to comply.
The key to liberal success is the ability to stick to the strategy, no matter how outrageous. To listen to the words of Reid, Pelosi, Waters and even President Obama, there are times where I cannot believe the left gets away with what it does. But it does.
What, then, of the Republican strategy? Important to a strategy is to actually have one. We do not.
Lower taxes, roaring economy, a safeguarded 2nd Amendment, strong military, liberty and freedom for all is the result of a strategy. None of them are inherently a tactical part of an overall strategy but are a result. To be clear, the result of a good strategy does not make the strategy.
When I sift through the blogosphere and Twitterverse, I see lots of patriotic declarations. Quoting the Constitution does not constitute a plan. It sounds good but does little to improve the Conservative movement.
What I have oft seen is the self-destruction of the right. All for the sake of political purity.
The left’s coalition is not a group of like minded citizens. Not even close. Unions have been at odds with the big greenies, teachers unions have been at odds with minority parents regarding charter schools….really, it seems unions are battling everybody.
It is not a strong and united coalition other than united against Republicans. None of them are for the same thing. Just against us.
That the left’s aggregation of special interests is pretty darned weak speaks volumes as to how weak the Republican party is. Yet, the answer to overcome this is quite simple; stop seeking perfection. Stop seeking purity.
The self immolation of the conservative movement is the expectation of perfection. Of a political purity. That every politician must match my beliefs exactly or that they might be considered a RINO.
Last time I checked, that was impossible.
Conservatives choose to forego election day voting out of this purity. Referring back to the Fiscal Cliff, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were vilified as imperfect. These are men who are proudly conservative and have voted as much during the preponderance of their days in office. Imperfectly, perhaps. But that’s the point. If Conservatives keep throwing our politicians under the bus, none will remain.
Battles and Wars.
Conservatives see every battle as the war. It is not. Each battle we have with Obama and the Democrats in congress is just that, a battle. This means that we will no doubt lose battles. Many of them.
We should not lose the war if we are focused not on just the battle today but the overall strategy of the war. That is to say; Republicans need to determine what the real goal is. What is the strategic end result?
It clearly should be that we are the majority party. That Republicans are the majoritarian party by which we are governed. If this is not the focus, the goal, then, we will continue to lose.
All of this hinges on the need for perfection today. To have the McDonalds drive-thru politics of perfection that not only do I want for the perfect candidates but that I want them now.
You will never go in to a battle with the perfect set of circumstances. What you can hope for is that you have built a battle ready team and slog through the many battles that are to come.
Until that time, we will continue to lose.