Fighting the Enemy We Have, Not the One We Wish We Had
The Democrat Party of today is NOT the same party Reagan faced in the 80's.
There is an old story about how a group of conquistadors landed on the coast of South America in a quest for the City of Gold. After their captain burned the ships to prevent any second thoughts about the mission, they set about hacking through the jungle. For weeks on end, they endured fatigue, insects, snakes, and hunger as they pushed toward the interior. Finally, one of them climbed a tree and saw the city – but also saw the men were cutting a trail that would miss it. He yelled down to them to change direction, but the men thought his penchant for climbing the trees was just a way to avoid the heavy work of chopping through the twisted jungle, so the captain shouted up to him to get out of that tree, shut up, and get back to work because they were making progress.
I'm constantly amazed how people who willfully fool themselves about the genesis of a problem by ignoring it and focusing on something they think they can do something about that isn’t the problem at all. When you point it out to them that they really aren’t solving the problem, they tell you to get out of that tree and get back to work because the men were “making excellent progress”.
Predictably, there is a segment people within the Republican Party who think Donald Trump is the problem. You see them wishing, as Bill Barr wrote on Bari Weiss’s newsletter, Common Sense. Barr wrote:
“That opens up a historic opportunity for the GOP—the opportunity to revive something like the old Reagan coalition: a combination of Republican-leaning, college-educated suburbanites; culturally conservative working-class voters; and even some classical liberals who are repulsed by the left’s authoritarianism.”
Lots of folks want this. For myself, I also wish it were possible. But most of these wistful remembrances of nostalgic bliss neglect the fact that just becoming Reaganesque is to ignore the radical changes in our opposition, the Democrat Party.
Much like how we had to learn to fight terrorists differently, the contemporary GOP must learn to fight Democrats differently because they are different. During the Reagan years, we never saw Senate Democrats go after SCOTUS nominees the way they did Justice Kavanaugh, we never saw them try to impeach a sitting president – twice – for invented offenses, we never saw the radical social stances they have taken, nor the vicious personal attacks cancel culture has brought about or the outright censorship of free speech and free expression.
General George S. Patton is reported to have told his men that they must forget all the high-minded rules of war that were written in the parlors and salons of moralizing politicians. He said that the enemy doesn’t care about our rules, and he will fight according to his own rules (or absence of them) and the only way to win was to fight according to the enemy’s rules – or even dirtier. In our own minds, we know this to be true. On the battlefield, holding true to any rule that renders you defenseless or restricts your ability to mount an offensive will get you killed.
The enemy isn’t inside our defenses. Attacking President Trump only shows common cause with the Democrats and wishing for a more civil political atmosphere is fruitless when your opponent wants nothing more than to kill you. Our political war of today is asymmetrical, more akin to terrorism than a gentleman’s war.
Our own history proves what I am saying is true.
During the 18th century, wars were fought per specific, rigid and mutually respected “gentleman’s” rules. Everybody lined up on either side of the battlefield and like gentlemen, shot at each other until one side killed enough of the other side for it to retire. It was like a group duel until one side asked for quarter.
Here in America, we have historical evidence of how asymmetrical changes to symmetric rules effect an outcome. When the Colonists began using the techniques learned in the various Indian wars, hiding behind trees and fences, sneak attacks, and un-gentlemanly hours, ambushing and conducting hit and run attacks, the stiff upper lip Brits couldn’t hang. If it were not for these guerilla tactics, the outgunned, under trained, poorly supplied and otherwise rag-tag Continental Army and the various militias of which it consisted, would have likely lost and we would still be serving High Tea at 4 pm and hailing King Charles.
In a war of (and on) any sort of terrorism, political or otherwise, there are no rules. The actions of the Democrats have proven that to be true.
Wishing won’t change what is.
The enemy has a say in our battle plans and when they tell us who they are, we should listen to them and not Bill Barr and the other NeverTrumpers who claim to be “making progress”.