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Mr. President: It's All of The Above If Conservatives are Social Darwinists, then...

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2012: The Art of Intimidation

by Christopher Chantrill
April 24, 2012 at 12:00 am

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WHAT A JOY it was to watch the Romney campaign executing on the Hilary Rosen flap, launching Ann Romney on Twitter in a heartbeat. And then the Romney war room followed up with the dog-meat play. Liberals thought that the dog-on-the-roof scandal had legs. But it turned out that the legs were Indonesian roast pooch.

Of course, as Bill Kristol insists, the candidate himself needs to be presidential and stick to Big Think presidential speeches about Big Issues. That’s especially important in 2012 because the community-organizer-in-chief has left the role of national uniter up for grabs while he shamelessly descended into the gutter, dividing the nation up into the Balkan States of America. Let the president be shrill; let him be petty, writes Bill.

Romney can give serious speeches about the Constitution and the Supreme Court, the case for limited government and the threat of bankruptcy and penury, about undoing Obamacare and what will replace it.

But let’s not get too good-government about this. Government is force, and politics is intimidation. While every campaign needs a great candidate that rises above it all, campaigns are mostly won in the trenches by the side that doesn’t give up first. That’s where intimidation comes in. You need your troops to see the opposition taking hits.

The name of the game in political intimidation is to delegitimize the agenda of the other side and shut them up. The last national Republican that knew how to play the intimidation game was Ronald Reagan. Liberals tried to intimidate him and read him out of the mainstream as a mad bomber and an extremist, but they never quite managed to pull it off. Once Reagan had got liberals on the floor he never let them back in the game. George W. Bush, bless his heart, tried to appease the liberals by running as a “compassionate conservative.” That worked about as well as “hope and change.”

Today the task of conservatives is to toughen up, and figure out how to intimidate the liberals defending what they believe to be the impregnable fortresses of Race, Class War, and Gender Gap. The job of the Romneys is to find the weak spots in the walls and start to demolish them.

Only when these liberal fortresses have been reduced can America resume its journey to the Promised Land.

The liberal fortresses are a lot more vulnerable to attack than liberals believe, for liberals have been on the attack for the last decade and haven’t really thought much about defense. They imagined in 2008, after eight years of Bush stupidity, that their policies would deliver them a permanent Democratic majority. In other words, they believed their own propaganda.

But suppose that the Romney team decided to exploit its tactical victories on moms and dogs. Suppose they went for the big play and decided to end decades of liberal intimidation on race and class?

There is a big opening on race. For half a century white America has hoped that one day, perhaps the day that America declared itself ready for a black president, they would gratefully receive racial absolution. But we now know that isn’t going to happen. So maybe we are getting close to a Rhett Butler moment, when Rhett tells Scarlett O’bama: frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. That will be the day that the race hustle hits the wall.

On the welfare state the liberals have two ways of intimidating reformers. One is the “mean-spirited” argument, that any cuts are made “on the backs of the poor.” The other method is the threat of civil disorder. One day conservatives will simply respond like Dirty Harry: make my day.

Turning the tables means putting the liberals on the moral defensive. On race the liberals have not just tolerated but encouraged moral monsters like Reverends Jackson, Sharpton, and Wright. On class, liberals have demolished the authentic working class culture, as the robber barons failed to do, and they have demolished the black community, as the slaveholders failed to do. We are not just talking about hypocrisy, we are talking about a betrayal of everything liberals said they believed on race and the poor. In the 1930s liberals stood on the picket lines with working stiffs. In the 1960s liberals gave their lives for civil rights. Today well-paid liberals make money, big money, out of urban pathologies, ruthlessly profiting from the sufferings of the poor. This must not stand.

Maybe it’s asking too much to expect the Romney people to turn around the intimidation game all in one year. But someone has to make a start, because in politics if your people aren’t out intimidating the opposition, then the opposition’s people are intimidating you.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


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