Historical parallels are always there for the thoughtful. Consider a key turning point for each of two former US presidents.
Union General Ulysses S. Grant crossed the Rapidan River in Virginia on 4 May 1864 – 157 years ago this very week – to commence the Overland Campaign in order to engage and destroy Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in a series of bloody battles that ended on 12 June when the siege of Petersburg began.
With the stakes equally high for the country, Donald Trump crossed his own Rapidan to commence his version of the Overland Campaign when he started down that escalator on 15 June 2015 and declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. This past Monday, that campaign continued with the latest battle as he labeled the 2020 election “The Big Lie.”
Some would say this is over-the-top hyperbole. I think not. Let us examine the parallels.
Grant developed a reputation for dogged determination and tenacity – honed in capturing heavily fortified Vicksburg, MS, in July 1863 and later at Missionary Ridge in Tennessee in November 1863 – but also for ingenuity in the use of maneuver warfare and op tempo, the delegation of authority to subordinates, battlefield improvisation, and a genius-level understanding of the strategic and operational levels of 19th-century warfare.
The Overland Campaign was his first major operation after having been appointed commander of all Union armies by President Lincoln in March 1964. The strategy he developed involved continually holding and engaging Lee’s sizeable but inferior army while Gen. William T. Sherman cut through Georgia (which eventually became the “March to the Sea”), and two other Union generals concentrated on the key Confederate port at Mobile, AL, and major railway supply lines in West Virginian. The strategic objective was to attrite Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia while destroying the Confederate army’s logistics resupply capability and ability to wage war.
The six-week Overland Campaign consisted of a series of nearly continuous battles, including the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor, as well as a number of lesser-known skirmishes. It was a masterpiece of maneuver warfare and logistics although the human costs were extremely high. Those costs must be put in the context that Grant’s strategy carried through to Appomattox Court House and ended the war in 12 months after three previous years of death, futility, and stalemate.
A friend of mine summarized the Overland Campaign and what came after this way:
When Grant directed Meade into the Wilderness to engage the Army of Northern Virginia, a battle erupted. It was fought to a standstill, resulting in heavy casualties.
Grant then directed Meade into the roads south. They did not turn back. They did not go into camp to “retrain” as was the usual course of action after a heavy battle. They did not grant furloughs to improve morale. They stumbled through the night along the Brock Road, and they came to the Orange Plank Road. And it was here that the troops learned about their General in Chief and their future.
If they turned east, it meant retreat, refitting, furloughs, and training. But they continued down the Brock Road. South. And they started singing. They had just taken 18,000 casualties, nearly one-fifth of their number. And they were singing.
On the night of May 7th, no one knew the specifics, but they knew the details. Sleeping in holes, rations, sweltering heat, icy rains, gun smoke, charges, counter-charges, snipers, artillery barrages, amputation, and death.
And they were singing.
Moving south on the Broad Road their packs became a little lighter, they stood a little taller, and they marched a little faster. Because after two days of slugging it out facing “galling fire” they got an offer. An offer that would wipe away the shame of the Seven Days, of Fredericksburg, and of Chancellorsville.
But what was offered came at a steep price. It would be paid beginning the following morning at a beautiful rise in the ground the men dubbed Laurel Hill….
And from Spotsylvania, there would be more battles whose names are only now records rather than memories….
Yellow Tavern, Meadow Bridge, North Anna, Wilson’s Wharf, Haw’s Shop, Totopotomoy Creek, Old Church….
To earn what was offered they would have to pass through a refiner’s fire known to history as Cold Harbor.
They would not break contact with the Confederates until June 14th. And it would take until April 9th of the following year to earn what was offered.
But as they sang and marched, they thirsted for what they knew would restore freedom to millions of their fellow Americans: victory.
The following are some of Grant’s attributes in conducting his Overland Campaign (and subsequent battles):
- Development of a winning strategy
- Coordination of superior forces and logistics
- Maneuver genius at the operational level of war
- Successful delegation of authority
- Tenacity and focus
- Willingness to accept losses to more quickly achieve ultimate victory
Now let’s look at Donald Trump’s continuing America First campaign.
On 15 June 2015, Trump started down the escalator while being far behind the “seventeen dwarves” in terms of polling. When he conveyed his strategy for victory to the American people – Make America Great Again – the escalator started going back up, and fast! By the end of July, he was polling at 21 percent, and ahead of Jeb Bush, the RINOs’ designated candidate, who poured $130 million into a losing primary campaign. Ol’ Jeb was yesterday’s news – the equivalent of the failed generals who preceded Grant (Scott, McClelland, and Halleck). And the Republican Party started to change inexorably into a populist party for all the people.
Grant’s enemy center of gravity was Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The center of gravity of Trump’s enemy was the Deep State (including the Uniparty, legacy media, and federal bureaucracy). Trump dealt with all three elements through a political strategy of maneuver. That maneuver strategy involved these elements:
- Conveying his thoughts directly to the American people via public statements, as well as via Twitter. This was a modernization of President Reagan’s strategy of “talking over the heads of the media directly to the American people.”
- Keeping his political enemies off balance so that they never knew what to expect of him while delivering on his promises.
- Using branding techniques to successfully humorously lambaste and label opponents in the public’s minds (Li’l Marco, Crooked Hillary, Sleepy Joe, Crying Chuck, Shifty Schiff, Pocahontas, etc.). This worked to perfection because the labels conveyed truths about each that resonated with many Americans.
- Building his base of support through policy achievements that were good were ALL Americans.
- Counterattacking promptly, forcefully, confidently, and successfully to the plethora of false allegations that defined his first four years in the Oval Office.
- Exposing the hypocrisy of his political enemies for the world to see at every opportunity.
- Educating the American public on the extent of corruption in their government at all levels, as well as the duplicity of erstwhile Republicans and conservative media (the Never-Trumpers) and the complicity of the legacy media in conveying and propagating the Uniparty’s false narratives.
President Trump was surrounded by enemies in his own administration, in Congress, and in the federal government in general. That he was able to accomplish as much as he did was a miracle achieved through a Herculean effort. He demonstrated the same tenacity, determination, and commitment to ultimate victory that Grant did, and Trump’s traits were analogous to Grant’s:
- Trump developed a winning strategy – Make America Great Again, followed by American First in terms of his administration’s policies.
- Trump coordinated superior forces and associated political logistics. The Democrats’ impeachment gambits and other hoaxes failed because public opinion was in the President’s favor. Americans understand quite well when someone is being railroaded. One conspicuous but unmentioned result – but one which is NEVER mentioned by his political enemies – was that in the 2020 election he exceeded his 2016 vote total by over 11 million votes, which was unprecedented for a presidential reelection campaign in which he also received the highest percentage of non-white votes of any Republican candidate since 1960.
- Trump’s operational maneuvering was genius level, just like Grant’s. The proof of the pudding is that, despite near-universal resistance by the political class and legacy media to his agenda, President Trump’s accomplishments were indeed Herculean.
- Trump successfully delegated authority to a number of his appointees and staff. A few examples are in order. The Abraham Accords – peace deals between Israel and several Arab countries – were largely facilitated by his son-in-law. How many American presidents promised Middle East peace without delivering before President Trump? Trump’s tax and regulatory cuts resulted in economic growth and unprecedented job numbers thanks to Republican allies in Congress, various Trump appointees, and White House staff. For the first time since President Nixon opened China to the world in 1972, a US president successfully pushed back on the Communists and concluded a trade deal far more favorable to US interests than the status quo thanks largely to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other Trump appointees.
- Trump is the epitome of tenacity and focus, just as Grant was. He has been focused like a laser beam on America First policies and exposing the Deep State from the moment he walked down that escalator in 2015. And his supporters love him for it – to this very day! His campaign appearances were ALL sell-outs, with tens of thousands either in attendance or disappointed that they were not able to be admitted. And he’s still working to expose Deep State corruption in all its forms, RINOs who are merely enablers of Democrats (like Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney), the endless lies of the legacy media, and The Big Lie.
- Trump was willing to accept the apparent loss in the 2020 election in order to more quickly achieve ultimate victory. He understands that the American people get the government they deserve, and only the people can correct the rampant corruption, double standards, legacy, and social media perfidy, and the contrast between the results of his own America First policies versus the America Last policies of the Hologram and his projectors. The first step is education and red-pilling as many Americans as possible. This has been underway since before he was elected and has accelerated over the past few months as he regularly posts public statements at his Save America website and attacks the cockamamie America Last policies of The Hologram.
That last point is the most important. While what passes for Republican leadership seeks to consign Donald Trump to the dustbin of history and return to the Uniparty deal-making and grifting of the Obama era, he continues on his mission to restore the constitutional Republic to the vision of the Founders. His base is red-pilled and fully energized in taking over the Republican Party from the precinct and county level upward. His political endorsements are golden, and the RINOs and Never-Trumpers are learning that the hard way. His base is also keeping the pressure on Republican-controlled state legislatures to push back on the leftwing policies being pursued by the Democrats in DC. Trump is not going away any time soon, and neither are we!
Here is my take on Trump’s America First campaign, patterned after my pal’s take on Grant’s Overland Campaign above:
When Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet in order to engage Hillary and the Deep State in 2015, a battle erupted. It was fought in 2016, resulting in heavy casualties (Clinton lost, and Trump became mired in the Deep State’s “gotcha” web of lies).
Trump then directed his administration and supporters on a journey to Make America Great Again. They did not turn back. They did not roll over to the Democrats and legacy media as was the usual course of action after being falsely attacked. They did not give in to earn faux praise from the media and Democrats. They stumbled through the days and nights along the MAGA road, and they came to the Democrat Hoax Road. And it was here that the troops learned about their General in Chief and their future.
If they turned around, it meant retreat and the loss of the high ground (the support of the American people). But they continued down the Democrat Hoax Road. On toward Making America Great Again. And they started cheering at his public rallies, as well as shouting down his political enemies. They had just taken a number of casualties (resignations by Trump campaign officials, White House staffers, and political appointees).
And they were singing, laughing, and cheering.
Throughout the last four years, no one knew the specifics, but they knew the details, thanks to the President’s tweets and public statements, as well as what their own eyes showed them about the impeachment hoaxes and other false allegations that were debunked. Continuing concerns for the president’s safety, the constant deluge of false media attacks, the perfidy of elected “Republicans” like Paul Ryan, the slander by Never-Trumpers masquerading as “conservative Republicans,” the resignations of erstwhile allies, the uncovering of DoJ and FBI criminal conduct, the corruption of virtually the entire Democrat establishment (and a lot of RINOs, too).
And they were singing, laughing, and cheering.
As the president delivered on his America First promises, their worries became a little lighter, they stood a little taller, and their confidence in the president and his agenda increased with each passing day despite the incessant resistance from the Deep State and Uniparty. Because after four years of slugging it out facing “galling fire” from their political foes, they got an offer. An offer that would wipe away the shame of years of having voted for corrupt Democrats and RINOs. Of having ignored the depths of the corruption to which our constitutional Republic had sunk.
But what was offered came at a steep price. It would be paid through the shock of an election that was filled with irregularities that are only now being investigated.
To earn what was offered they would have to pass through a refiner’s fire known to future historians as the Great Audit and Trump’s Second Coming.
They would not break contact with the Uniparty and the Deep State under any circumstances until that event was achieved.
But as they sang, laughed, and marched, they thirsted for what they knew would restore the full meaning of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights in all their particulars to millions of their fellow Americans: victory.
And ultimate victory over the Deep State and the Uniparty is right around the corner if we are willing to do what is necessary. Donald Trump crossed the Rapidan – and we along with him!
[H/T Rick B]