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Frontal assaults rarely succeed in war, and they are even less likely to be successful in politics and policy. Defense is easier than offense, and troops rarely have the stomach for the kind of sustained attack (and all the casualties) required to have a chance of victory against an entrenched enemy. Hard-won campaigns can often end up as losses.
Republicans did not campaign on a coherent platform, nor do they have the fortitude or unity for a frontal assault. We should not castigate them for it! In the history of the welfare state, full-frontal assaults on entrenched bureaucracies have, with almost no exceptions, always failed.
Instead of trying to attack entrenched defenders, we can win by going around them. This party will not successfully abolish regulation or massively overhaul the tax code, or get in the weeds by “reforming” Obamacare. Nor do we stand a snowball’s chance in hell of out-administering or even managing those massive and runaway bureaucracies. Nobody can reform the Pentagon or the State Department or HUD. They chew up and spit out reformers with ease.
But there are better solutions! All we need to do is follow the wisdom of Sun-Tzu and the greatest generals in history.
Attack where the enemy is not. As I explained in my first post on Republicans becoming pro-choice, we need to do an end-run around the defended ground. Instead of attacking Obamacare, we need to merely offer Americans a simple alternative: make your own choices. If you like your Obamacare, you can keep your Obamacare. But if you want to try something else, you can opt-out of Obamacare (signing away regulatory and other oversight) and contract with anyone else to provide you with a health good or service that is mutually agreed. The only recourse would be contractual: the parties are bound by their agreement. Obamacare would still be there, dug in on the hill. But Americans would be able to circumvent all of it in order to achieve the treatment they want.
Make the enemy attack you where you are strong. Republicans are weak at complexity, and we make a terrible case for doing a better job at running people’s lives. On the other hand, we are very, very strong when we champion the principled position that people should be free. This is what built America: the land of freedom and opportunity! Want to start a business? You can do that! Want to hire someone? You can do that, too! Want to buy a product that may not be approved by some bean counter in Washington? YES! We are strong when we talk about Freedom. So all we need to do is provide people with the right to choose freedom, with all the concomitant rights and responsibilities.
This will force the Democrats to attack OUR fortress, and try to make the case that Americans are too stupid and weak and infantile to make their own decisions. True, many of them believe this — but it would be a disastrous campaign. The vast majority of American citizens do not want to be openly treated like children.
I know that many of us on the Right have given up. I have advocated for secession in the past, for goodness’ sake! But I now believe that we can achieve what looks impossible. To do it, we need to pursue unconventional tactics. We don’t win if we get sucked into attacking the Democratic fortresses. We win by going where they are not, and then giving them no choice but to attack us, and attack the shining beacon of liberty and freedom that is the American ideal.Published in