You Are Judged By the Quality of Your Enemies

Vasser’s diary on “Thinking the Unthinkable” got me thinking.  Several have posted about the various labels we can apply to our enemies and which they apply to themselves.  Liberal is a word they long applied to themselves to avoid the stigma that was attached to “progressive,” which was merely code for communist by the ’30s, and they certainly couldn’t use socialist or communist and get elected.  Rush and others successfully demonized Liberal and now they’re trying progressive again because they, rightly I think, believe that nobody remembers its former communist connotation.  Anyway, I don’t have a good marketable label for them, but I’ve dealt with them enough in their union and political operative form to be able to describe and analyze them.  The following is a chapter from the book I’m working on aimed at Republican candidates for public offices and appointments:

Something that has passed with little notice is the characterization of states as Red or Blue.  We Republicans have accepted it and I use it because it is accepted, but we should understand its meaning since that explains so much about the opposition.  In war gaming, the Blue Force is the friendly force; the Red Force is the opposition force – the enemy.  I do not know who first did it, I saw it first in USA Today, but immediately after President Bush’s election in 2000, the media branded Republicans as the Red Force, the enemy, and we have accepted that branding.  What were we thinking?  The Democrats and their allies view their way of governing as the established way and we are the enemy, the opposition force to their version of truth, beauty, and the American Way of Life.  Most Republicans just see themselves as regular people trying to govern as regular people would want to be governed, harking back to old-fashioned Edmond Burke inspired notions of government by the consent of the governed.  The Democrats aren’t much on the consent of the unenlightened masses.


It is not coincidental that the geographic base of the current Democrat Party, the Blue States, is the same area that has afflicted this country with “ism” after “ism” and “reform” after “reform” since the earliest days of the country[1].  We Republicans are usually astounded by the hypocrisy these people routinely exhibit, but if you consider the history, it is easily explained; huge fortunes were made in the Northeast in the rum and slaves triangle trade – no slave ship ever flew a Confederate flag, in smuggling goods past the British, in whaling, in financing and shipping slave-produced cotton, in the slave-based “golden round” Alaska sea otter trade[2], in bilking shareholders, travelers, and shippers in the railroad era, and in smuggling liquor during Prohibition.  The people who made that money then sent junior to Hahvud or Yale, and he hasn’t looked back in his quest to make the world a better place – he has time to do it since neither he nor anyone he knows has done any meaningful work in generations.


The latter day puritans have moved the “shining city on a hill[3]” from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. and replaced the Christian God with a post-modern ideology of socialism, secularism, and relativism, but they still believe that anyone who doesn’t believe in the perfectibility of man – as they define perfect – is a sinner who should be writhing in the hands of an angry God.  They’ve changed gods, but they are still just as rigid, narrow, and judgmental as they were when they were burning witches[4].


I have worked for and with many appointees and office holders, both Republicans and Democrats.  Most of the Republicans have been nice bumblers and most Democrats have been ruthlessly driven partisan jerks (there’s another more descriptive word, but I’m seeking a wide audience).  Ironically, most of the Republicans have been characterized as uncaring, partisan, and mean-spirited and most of the Democrats have been viewed as “nice.”  The Democrats prattle endlessly about caring and sharing, but the only thing I have ever seen them much care about is power and the only thing they share is other people’s money or wives and daughters.


The part that most Republicans I have ever dealt with just cannot grasp is how nasty and blatantly hypocritical these people are.  If you come out of business, you have to at least superficially get along with people you do not like; if for no other reason than the customer is always right and the money is always green.  Even when you are not dealing with customers, you are dealing with someone you might need to do business with, so you do not make enemies unnecessarily.  Most Republican office-seekers or holders are not ideologues; they form their beliefs on practical knowledge of what people think and what people want.  Democrats and their running dogs in unions, academia, media, and entertainment do not think that way.  They have their belief structure and view and measure everything and everyone from that belief structure; and they never talk to anyone who doesn’t share that belief structure.  Democrats go to Democrat restaurants and bars, Democrat plays, Democrat movies, and Democrat social events – it never occurs to them that anyone goes anywhere else.  If you do not go where they go, do what they do, watch and listen to what they do – think NPR and Michael Moore, and think like they do, you are not human; they deny your existence – terming most of America “fly-over country” comes straight from their heart.  It is the same mindset that justified exterminating the Jews, but if you said they thought like the Nazis, you’d be the one from whom the media was demanding an apology.


The typical Democrat political operative or union leader is not especially difficult to deal with.  Their views are Marxist – whether they know it or not, but their thought processes are logical and thus predictable.  Since they are logical, they can be practical and even hardcore Marxism countenances compromise with the opposition when it is to one’s advantage.  The “college radical” and academic opposition is another matter all together.  While you weren’t looking acadaemia repealed logic and declared that truth was dead.  The German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche and his blathering about will, creativity, and supermen should have been left moldering in the rubble of the Third Reich, but he and his progeny are alive and well in a university near you and probably in your kids’ brains as well.  Old Nietzsche himself is too difficult, dated and tainted by Nazism – think Triumph of the Will – to be wholeheartedly embraced, but his disciple Foucault is the darling of the Academe and the Left; he’s French, Gay, and dead from AIDS, what more could you want?  The second stringers, Derrida and Rorty, complete the post-modernist philosophical pantheon, and Rorty is from the University of Virginia for Christ’s sake!


I would not sentence anyone to actually reading postmodernist drivel; if you are at all rational, it just doesn’t make any sense anyway[5].  But, the essence of it is that these people deny rationality; there is no Truth, there is just what is true for me, right for me.  This is where all the celebration of diversity and “it’s not wrong, it’s just different” crap comes from.  What makes these people difficult politically is that they view reality totally differently from we sane people; we are astounded by their willingness to lie and do not deal well with being constantly lied about – think “Bush Lied, People Died.”  But they are not lying.  You and I can lie if we know the truth and choose to say something different.  These people deny that there is truth in any absolute, objective sense; there is only that which they believe to be true, a license to say and do whatever they want.  Nobody has learned to deal with this yet and it is the reason that President Bush’s numbers were in the thirties or lower near the end of his term.  Foucault and his ilk say that the only role of the intellectual is to criticize and foment change; they never have to pose a solution, they just say what you’re doing is wrong.  Sound familiar?


I think I have a pretty good handle on dealing with the standard Marxist Democrat; nobody has come up with a good way to deal with the postmodern nihilists.  Right now we Republicans can win because thankfully not everyone went to the university and many of us that did didn’t buy it.  The calculus gets more and more grim, though, when we think that we now have two or more generations who’ve been brought up on, “it’s not wrong, it’s just different.”  On this one, the only thing we have going for us is demographics: liberals have a much lower birth rate than conservatives.  That said, Hispanics have a higher birth rate than either.


David Horowitz in How to Beat the Democrats discusses the fundamental difference in approach between Republican and Democrat politicians, and any Republican office holder or seeker should study his work.  Republicans approach government as a management problem and they seek rational solutions.  Democrats just want to keep their butts in the big chairs and their constituencies intact.  The minimum winning coalition has been a fixture in political thought for over three decades; you need fifty percent plus one and getting more than one takes one too many promises.[6]  The old version of the minimum winning coalition was basing your coalition on solving the problems of the constituencies in that coalition.  In the Clinton Era, the Democrats metastasized the old formula and based their coalitions on not solving the problems; they just talked about them endlessly and felt their pain.  I defy you to find a thing that Clinton actually did in eight years in office other than wag his weenie and his finger.  It is a smart way to keep your behind in the big chair.  If you ever actually solved a problem, you would lose the constituency associated with it and your butt would no longer be in the big chair.  Republicans on the other hand keep trying to solve problems.


Whenever you pose a solution to a problem somebody is going to be unhappy with your solution and the Democrats are going to have a better idea.  If your Republican idea has broad public support, the Democrats will adopt your idea but will say they can do it better and attack you for how you do it.   If you are having trouble believing this, just look at how they voted for the war in Iraq and then attacked everything President Bush did thereafter.  In the Democrat response to Bush’s 2005 State of the Union address, they actually used the line; “We can do it better,” over and over.  You’d best believe that they can keep up the debate on how to do it better until the next election.  You will look around and realize that you have just spent a term doing nothing but talking about doing something better, all the while enduring their relentless ad hominem attacks – checked your poll numbers lately?  The bureaucrats are always ready to help the Democrats because they have endless ideas about how your idea will not work – it’s too simplistic usually – and how they and the Democrats can do it better.  I might be willing to write bad checks for Ann Coulter, but she’s wrong; you don’t talk to liberals.  You ignore them or you screw them.  If you buy into that doing it better process, you are about to become a failed footnote.


If you got fifty percent plus one or work for someone who did, you have a mandate.  You don’t have to give a damn about what the opposition thinks until the next election cycle.  This fact eludes most Republicans.  Republicans are terrified of being labeled partisan and mean-spirited, and most Republicans got to where they are politically by being nice guys or girls.  That “hail fellow well met” that served you so well in the Legislature, Chamber, or the Rotary will just get you screwed in the executive branch.  If you just have to be a “nice guy,” you need a chief of staff or other deputy depending on where in the structure you are who is a real SOB.  Give her a mandate to keep things running and adopt a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude about how she does it.  Democrats are masters of this; the office holder is always Mr. Nice Guy, but behind the scenes are operatives who are anything but nice.  This built-in disingenuousness is hard for most Republicans, and there really are not a lot of skillful operatives around, so I do not recommend it unless you have your own Karl Rove.  Democrats and their running dogs do not believe that any government other than theirs is legitimate so as soon as you are in office, the Democrats, the press, and the elites will start telling you about how you need to “reach out” to them.  The reason they want you to reach out is that you are still too far away for them to bite you!


Americans are rich and lazy.  Even poor Americans are rich and lazy compared to the rest of the world.  Oh, we have our hard-driving entrepreneurs and our magnificent military, but the res publica of America is not going to do anything that it does not absolutely have to do.  If you just won political office, you own them.  The ideologues will stay with their old alliances, but the rest of them will come to the fundraiser to retire your campaign debts.  You can ignore the ideologues, and so long as you look like you’re winning, the rest of them will whore for you.


I started this book writing like I was a pretty nice guy.  It was a bait and switch, I’m not.  I am abrasive, confrontational, ruthless, and have been a very successful Republican political appointee.  That said, I am not a comfortable Republican.  The Republican Party still has way too much used car salesman karma for me, and there are altogether too many “Republican” wannabe office holders who make me want to count my fingers after I shake hands with them.  I am an ideological conservative, maybe a conservative ideologue, and I am the kind of conservative that the Lefties find scariest, since I am a conservative who isn’t a Christian.  Though I was raised in Baptist confinement, I simply have never found Faith.  My conservatism is practical and philosophical; the only faith I profess is in markets, knowledge and republican democracy, in about that order.  I guess that makes me a secularist of a different sort.  Those of you coming from Faith will find more than a hint of amorality in my views – I didn’t make the governmental world, I’ve just learned how to live in it.  That is your warning, so if you need to stop reading because you need to base things on Faith, this is the place.


The Romans had it right: Metuant dum Oderant – they may hate so long as they fear.  Our Founding Fathers wanted to emulate the Roman Republic; we Republicans now contend for the purple of the American Empire.  If you will govern, you will be judged by the quality of your enemies.  It is OK to be hated, so long as it is the right people who hate you.  If you are a Republican, the Democrats, the press, the elites, the academy, the unions, and the bureaucracy must hate and fear you.  If they do not, you are doing something wrong.


From here on out, this book is going to be negative, partisan, and sometimes mean-spirited.  In places it is sarcastic and cynical, but I’ve learned to expect the worst and then be pleasantly surprised when I don’t get it – it is better that way than the other way.  I also generalize and stereotype some occupations and groups; I know it isn’t fair to every member of the group, but you don’t have time to find out which ones are the exceptions.  Stereotypes are evolved by a social group for a purpose: they keep the group safe so it does not get hurt while it figures out the individual(s) that may be an exception.  I’ll say it out front, most of government works nominally well most of the time, but the thing that it handles worst is change.  Your election will be a dramatic change.  The things that are working OK and that you do not try to change will not hurt you, so there’s no reason to talk about them.  This is about the things that must change and the things that can hurt you as you try to effect that change.  This work is not much about policy, that part is up to you and varies from place to place and year to year.  On policy, you know who and what you are, or want to be, or you would not be reading this.  Also, this is not is legal advice; I’m not a lawyer, so get yourself one.  This is a bureaucrat’s experience and bureaucrats live in a world of applying and interpreting laws, but have your attorney reconcile these ideas with your local law.


[1] One may be permitted to wonder what the history of this country might have been had the Hartford Convention led to the secession of the New England states.  For those with a government school education, secession was not invented in South Carolina.

[2] The Russians, from whom American traders bought the otter skins, had enslaved the aboriginal Aleut people and forced them to hunt the otters.  American acquisition of Alaska in 1867 only changed the Aleuts’ legal status, not their social, economic, and political status.

[3] Why on Earth did Presidents Reagan and Bush I adopt this phrase as a Republican rallying cry?  I guess in a country that hasn’t taught a meaningful version of its history in a century, even presidential speechwriters must be forgiven the lapse.  It is a nice turn of phrase, but it is fraught with meaning – the wrong meaning.

[4] And, no, I do not mind it showing that I still, “don’t  hold much for Yankees.”  The past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past.

[5] If you want a good concise overview of postmodernist philosophy, see Stanley Grenz’, A Primer on Postmodernism.  Grenz is a Christian theologian and the book seeks to understand postmodernism and find Christian means to accommodate it.  The scary part is that at some point both the Christians and the postmodernists reject rationality and here they find common ground.

[6] See, e.g., Joe Napolitan’s “The Election Game and How to Win It.”  This late ‘60s work featured Mike Gravel’s 1968 successful bid for one of Alaska’s U.S. Senate seats.