Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?
Thinking Like Grant
By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
"Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." - Lt.Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, to an unnamed Union field commander, on the evening of May 6th, 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness.
In sports, a key to keeping one's opponent off the scoreboard is to keep their defense off the field (or to significantly disrupt their offensive rhythm). Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Reggie Bush can't do the Lions much good if they can't get off the sidelines; nor can Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder do the Tigers much good if they can't get into the batter's box; nor can Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk do the Red Wings much good if they can't inside the opponent's blue line.
Similarly, in war, both strategic and tactical success is often determined by whichever side can maintain the initiative, denying the enemy forces the operational latitude to dictate the time, location, and conditions of any engagement more significant than an isolated skirmish. Doing so keeps the enemy reactive, instead of proactive, and denies them the opportunity to accomplish their objectives, while allowing friendly forces to achieve theirs.
In regard to maintaining the initiative, politics is no different from either sports or war. Keep the opposition responding to your actions, or keep them just disorganized enough that they can't do anything productive, and the next thing they know, the election's been won before a single vote gets tabulated.
constitutionalist insurgency: referring collectively to a loosely-networked quasi-alliance of grassroots organizations who have a common advocacy for constitutionally-restrained government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, and free-market capitalism. These organizations specifically include the Campaign for Liberty, the Republican Liberty Caucus, the Conservative Political Action Conference, iCaucus, the American Conservative Union, and the tea party network (among others). Also referred to as the "liberty minded network" or the "tea party movement"
Back in 2009, in response to the "rant heard `round the world," Americans by the millions decided that they'd finally had enough, and the next thing you knew, tea party groups were popping up everywhere. The Republican Party, eager to stop their electoral hemorrhaging, quickly formed strategic alliances with the tea party network in order to leverage ballot box success in 2010 to a degree not seen since the days of FDR.
And then reality kicked in. See, while politicians are quite happy to have an engaged and enthusiastic grassroots organization alongside their campaign efforts during an election year, what politicians do not want is an assertive county, district, state, or even national party committee that might actually hold them accountable to the party platform and exact some semblance of governing in accordance with a set of principles (such as the constitution). Yet here were these tea partiers, along with other organizations that the establishment thought they'd sidelined into irrelevance, introducing initiatives like Operation Watchdog and the Sentinel Project, and actually expecting to hold both elected leadership and party leadership accountable to the principles that they pretended to espouse during the campaign.
These newbies clearly didn't understand how things worked, and they needed to be shut down before they managed to upset the establishment applecart. In order to do that, the constitutionalist insurgency needed to be kept from gaining enough traction to become permanently productive. And as the old guard establishment already knows, if this is done long enough, eventually the tea party movement gets reduced to a noisy minority that will never be of political consequence again.
See, the reason that the current iteration of liberty-minded grassroots conservatives are engaged in what appears to be an uphill fight is the same reason that we have top-down control of the republican political apparatus in Michigan: The cronies leading the party have the resources to control their underlings in the districts and counties, as well as the legislature. Many of those "down the food chain" will reliably roll over for nothing more than a pat on the head and a chance to rub elbows with the "bigs," while others command a certain amount of financial support for their loyalty (crumbs from the table to effect compromised behavior). Also, politicians can affect profit and loss for certain connected persons and entities, and are the beneficiaries of largess from those so favored.
On those occasions when the insurgency does start to gain traction, the blueblood elites are well aware that sabotaging the effort is often much more effective than open opposition, and the preferred tactics don't significantly vary from those used to maintain top-down control of the party apparatus. I think that we're all pretty familiar with a few of them.
Politics is, at its core, about power, access, and prestige. Anyone who honestly believes that individual members of the constitutionalist insurgency can't be bought off by a seat at the table is a fool. Offers of employment, promises of campaign support, introducing bills, or any of a dozen other baubles can be used as "currency" to create a "mole" who can be used to actively stir up dissention or otherwise cause support to collapse at a critical juncture. I'm reminded of the scene in Braveheart depicting the betrayal of Wallace by Lochlan and Mornay at the Battle of Falkirk. (Granted, the screenplay is historically questionable, but I'm focusing on the illustration.)
Don't think for one second that the elites won't publicly co-opt the efforts and results of the grassroots, if it suits their purpose to do so. Rick Snyder had to be dragged to the table kicking and screaming to sign off on the Workplace Fairness and Equity Act, but now it's something that gets trotted out every time he draws criticism from the party base for tacking centrist (which he's been doing since February).
Diffusing grassroots backlash is also critical to advancing a "progressive" legislative agenda. They'll pace the introduction of truly odious bills, so as to give the heat from one time to die off before the next one is introduced, and will rotate the bad voters so as to ensure that none of the nominally conservative ones draw too much heat. (Thus Mike Shirkey, who went off-reservation on Common Core and SnyderCaid, will often get a pass because of his spearheading of Freedom to Work.) The reason that they can get away with this is because too many grassroots activists ultimately surrender to the "corinthian scales fallacy" instead of persistently calling legislators out for lousy votes.
Also, the consistently squishy legislators, who can be relied upon to vote off-platform at every opportunity, are pretty much untouchable back in their districts, thus allowing them to form a pro-progressive voting nucleus around which an ad hoc whip count can be built as needed. Just in case you needed another reason to support a Part-Time Legislature Amendment.
Another favorite way to diffuse backlash is to trot out a popular insurgency darling, who happens to be on someone's client list, every time things start to get a bit dicey for an establishment candidate or incumbent on the same client list. (Which is why, because Rand Paul is on Strategic National's client list, expect him to make short-notice, high-profile appearances in Michigan whenever the Snyder-Calley campaign starts foundering.) Alternately, multiple allegedly anti-establishment stars on the same client list might lend their names as endorsements to a stinker who just happens to have some pull with the consulting firm in question. (A good way to get a feel for who's on Strategic National's client list is to review all of the heavy-hitter endorsements of Ron Weiser.)
In those highly selective instances when and where direct opposition is necessary, don't assume that this will always be in the form of a primary challenge, though it could be. Just as common are the tactics of withdrawing support, propping up non-major party candidates, quietly supporting democrats, smokescreening incumbents, or even changing the rules. I suspect that the full enumeration of conservatives who've been on the receiving end of at least one of these is likely in the immediate vicinity of legion, but I do know that the names Justin Amash, Kerry Bentivolio, Saxby Chambliss, Ken Cuccinelli, Barry Goldwater, Joe Miller, Christine O'Donnell, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and John Smietanka are prominently featured on that list.
All in all, countervailing this seems pretty daunting on the surface, if all we're focusing on is what they're doing to us. At least three times previously, since the current Michigan Constitution was ratified, there have been coordinated efforts to purge the traditional, constitutional conservative voice from the Michigan Republican Party ranks. Right now, three professional firms, in consort with the MIGOP and NRCC, and bankrolled by some deep-pocketed old money donors, are actively recruiting precinct delegates in Michigan in a fourth attempt to put the constitutionalist insurgency on the shelf . . . permanently.
But every time something like this has been done, for awhile principled patriots have arisen to effect changes in the process. Right now, the question is, how does the insurgency retake the offensive? To this, there isn't an easy answer, though the answers themselves are fairly simple.
For starters, we need to define our objectives, and then stay focused on them. Out of 27 or more possible options, what are the three-to-five things that ought to be our priorities between now and February 2015? That sounds so obvious, it should have been a done deal eight weeks ago, but if you talk to any dozen recognized leaders within the movement, you'll get as many different answers as to what our priorities ought to be. About the only things that I've heard at least 80% consensus on are:
Another thing that the insurgency needs to figure out is learning how to work with people we don't like very much. I'm not kidding. Right now, we have tea party leaders who are more focused on creating and maintaining fiefdoms than they are about unifying our efforts against those who want us silenced. Seriously, we're at the point where we will either continue as a free people, or cease to exist as a sovereign nation, and we have grassroots leadership more interested in turf wars than in focusing on the larger objective. (A key reason that Brian Ellis is gaining traction in his primary challenge to Justin Amash is that some strategically-placed egos in the 3rd District tea party network are more interested in inter-organizational pissing contests than in actually defending Amash's seat.)
The chairman of the Michigan Republican Party recently boasted that his "Precinct Leader" program recruited 700 potential precinct delegates . . . in one month. When you couple that with what I mentioned earlier about three consulting firms that have each set aside $1 million for the specific purpose of recruiting and organizing precinct delegates in critical districts, why the grassroots aren't responding to this very direct threat with a sense of urgency just baffles me. The upside to this is that we already have pre-established connections into our neighborhoods, as well as into neighborhoods where the PD coverage is spotty at best. However, our window of opportunity to exploit our advantage here is closing fast (but that's a topic for a different blog post). Remember . . . if we own the precinct delegate network, then we own the election.
If we're going to accomplish objectives (b) and (c), then we need to be highly selective in the races we target. This is where the iCaucus benchmark of 40% of the available seats, which I've mentioned in previous posts, comes in handy as a maximum length for the target list. Combing through the records of every single sitting state legislator should give us a feel for which ones are the true stinkers, who ought to be opposed if they're running for reelection (or worse, a term-limits-induced promotion). I'm not sure what we ought to use as a benchmark for the maximum number of times off-platform that ought to raise a red flag, or which issue-specific votes should be automatic deal-breakers regardless, but I do know that a particular ad hoc committee is discussing that as I write this.
And by the way, turnabout is fair play when it comes to dealing with squishy incumbents who survive the primary. The party establishment makes a great fuss about rallying behind the nominee, so that we can beat the democrats, but they don't walk their own talk when they don't win. We talk about selectively boycotting the gubernatorial race, and certain congressional races, in the general election, and they scream foul. Yet if you review that list of names that's four paragraphs above the bullet-point list of objectives, you'll find ten examples of when they've done precisely that to us. I for one have no problem dropping those names as counterarguments when the establishment gets upset about being hoist on their own petard.
(As things are, I'll gladly canvass my precinct for my county commissioner, my state senator, my congressman, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the consensus U. S. Senate nominee, the education races, the judicial races, a ballot initiative or two, and that's probably about it. The Nerd Herd can kiss my shorts, and I'm not exactly sold on my state representative right now, either.)
The congressional and legislative districts in Michigan, as they are currently drawn, were designed to ensure party incumbency through the next census. If we don't care for the nominee, then why should it be a big deal if we pull all grassroots support out of a race? No lit drops, no phone calls, no door-knocking . . . for any specific candidate that we refuse to support. And if we're not sufficiently stoked to canvass for them, then we ought to seriously consider leaving that stop on the ballot blank as well. I suspect that'll send a much more effective message than voting third party. Coupled with commandeering the precinct delegate network, a selective boycott should pretty much position the insurgency to wrest control of the state party apparatus come February 2015, if that's what we want to do.
Traditional, constitutional conservatives have a significant presence (perhaps a majority) in both legislative Republican caucuses. If they were prudent and sufficiently committed, then they could change leadership and support the agenda they campaigned on. If they are too weak to rise to the challenge, then the Republican progressives will retain the recent momentum that muddies the party's purpose and platform. The latter will cost the entire party dearly at the next election
Politics is the art of the possible. Time will tell if the constitutionalist insurgency can prevail against the tidal wave of three professional groups, with a few million dollars and extensive staffs, now recruiting precinct delegates to throw the patriots out. That the political, media, and cultural elites openly oppose America's founding principles won't make our job any easier. Nevertheless, as has happened four times previously in recent state history, it isn't about how tough the job is, but rather about what the principled patriots do when the going gets tough.
So, which Union general will we patriots choose to emulate, McClellan or Grant? The future we wish to pass on to our posterity depends upon the answer.
Thinking Like Grant | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)
Thinking Like Grant | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)
Related Links+ Ulysses S. Grant
+ Battle of the Wilderness
+ rant heard `round the world
+ Workplace Fairness and Equity Act
+ Saxby Chambliss
+ Rick Perry
+ turnabout is fair play
+ county commissioner
+ state senator
+ congressma n
+ Attorney General
+ Secretary of State
+ consensus U. S. Senate nominee
+ state representative
+ Also by Kevin Rex Heine