To understand David Horowitz and his confrontational approach to the Left, we have to remember that he understands the Progressive mind so much because he used to be a card carrying member of their movement. He knows what they think, what they intend, how they go about it, and what they are after. Many Conservatives and Moderates find his writings, speeches, and appearances on TV and radio to be extreme because we tend to view the attacks of the Left as ignorant, bad manners, and even crazy at times. But as Mr. Horowitz notes, if they are so crazy why have they been the majority party for all but twelve years since the end of WWII? True, the GOP has won the White House more often, but we only had the Senate periodically, and didn’t take back the House until 1994 (and then lost it to Pelosi in 2006 until ObamaCare helped us take it back in 2010).
Horowitz points out that this isn’t a debating society. The Left plays for keeps and portrays everyone who opposes them as evil and seeks to destroy them, all the while decrying the politics of personal destruction. It is a dance that they have perfected and are abetted in its intricacies by the media. Conservatives keep thinking that the sheer weight of the evidence from history of socialism’s failures will carry the day, but it won’t. Why? On page 8 Horowitz writes: “Why do progressives not see that the future they are promoting has already failed elsewhere? First, because they see history as something to transcend, not as providing a reservoir of experience from which they must learn. Second, because in their eyes the future is an idea that has not yet been tried. If socialism failed in Europe, it’s because they weren’t the ones implementing it, and the conditions weren’t right to make it work.” I remember Michael Lerner, one of Hillary’s advisors and friends, wrote in his magazine Tikkun that the reason Communism would work today when it failed in the USSR is because he and others such as Bill and Hillary are better people. Wow. I am also reminded of then Candidate Obama’s famous phrase, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” He was serious. It wasn’t a gaffe.
Progressives view more government subsidies as a twofer: they see people who get government goodies (such as contraception that they don’t have to pay for) as more free and, because they are the providers of the goodies, they get more power to do more “good”! Conservatives see more government subsidies as creating more dependence and the increased government intrusion in our lives as a diminishment of freedom. These are not reconcilable views. And as the author points out in chapter three, it constitutes the most serious battle in the world — more than the struggles in the Middle East — because it is over the future of Liberty and Freedom and the Constitution in America.
In chapter four, the author urges the GOP to go on offense. We can’t wait to respond to the Left. We have to personalize the issues and show the victims of Progressive Policies. We have to expose the corruption. Too often, Conservatives fall for the consultant advice of not being offensive or too strident. Maybe that is good advice, but it becomes horrible advice when you do what Romney did in the second and third debates after winning the first one by being afraid to call Obama out on his mistakes, half-truths, and complete misstatements of fact. Romney let Obama up off the mat and the Democrats ran with that all the way back to the White House. On page 66 we read, “Positive proposals should spotlight the way progressive policies specifically hurt minorities, working Americans, and the poor. In opposing those who oppress and exploit these people, Republicans will demonstrate they care about what happens to the powerless and the vulnerable. It’s a simple equation, but the Republicans somehow don’t get it.”
The Left is always more unified and controlled in its public communications. They use the same talking points, phrases, and subjects. It is stunning and we always wonder why the public doesn’t see through it. They don’t. They hear the messages the Left is communicating, even when it is nothing more than a fantasy (or nightmare). As Alinsky taught them, the other side must always be portrayed as immoral. The Progressives believe they are always with the angels and all opponents to the Progressive agenda are devils. Oh, and stupid, too. How many times have you heard a Republican candidate referred to as stupid? Yeah, I know. It is tiring.
Horowitz says that the Right needs to unify around the ideas of individual liberty and natural rights that are not a part of or subject to political action. This necessarily calls for limited government. We need to understand that the very goal and purpose of the Progressive/Liberal/Socialist movement is to fundamentally transform human nature through government action. We need to help people realize what the Progressives are attempting to do to them and convincing them to stand together against this agenda of government tyranny. We stand for freedom and liberty and personal responsibility.
There is an old saying that is more apt than it should be. It says that to get the antonym of any word simply place the word social in front of it. This is why the beloved term of the Left — Social Justice — has been so destructive. In the name of helping the poor get housing, rent control has made housing unavailable and where it exists it has driven prices higher. While buildings the poor can afford are maintained horribly and are too often unsafe. The mortgage crisis was brought on by pushing housing on people who could not afford the homes they were buying and when the system inevitably crashed, it was the poor who lost their homes first, while the middle class had a great deal of its wealth destroyed and, too often their jobs evaporated as companies contracted along with the economy and then failed to grow much at all once the recession supposedly ended. What we have to show and convince the Progressive base of is that the Progressive bureaucracy, like all bureaucracies, works for its own interest and not for theirs. This is true for minorities, for students, laborers, women, and everyone else who thinks they will be taken care of by the government and then wonders why it isn’t working out for them.
I get a kick at how much time the Left biased media and the Democrat Party spend giving the GOP advice on how to throw off the Tea Party and the “ultra-right wing.” Ever notice that there is no “ultra-Left wing” in their rainbow? Do you really suppose that they have the interests of any Republican at heart? Horowitz points out that the GOP isn’t just bad at politics, it is terrible at politics. In chapter seven he asks if the Tea Party and the GOP can stay married. On page 107 he says: “My answer is it better. The White House is occupied by a lifelong anti-American radical who has done more to bankrupt this nation’s economy, take us down as a military power, and destroy individual liberty than anyone would have thought possible when he took office in January 2009. And it’s worse than that. Obama is the head of a Democratic Party that has moved so far to the left over the last forty-six years that it has become anti-free market, anti-individualist, anti-constitutionalist, and unready to defend America’s sovereign interests at home and abroad. We cannot afford to let such a party run our government for another four or eight years. The world cannot afford it.” Amen.
Chapters eight and nine form the actual political strategy and tactics part of the program. He provides and discusses six principles for politics that the Left knows but seem to escape conservatives:
1) Politics is war conducted by other means.
2) Politics is a war of position.
3) In political warfare, the aggressor usually prevails.
4) Position is defined by fear and hope.
5) The weapons of politics are symbols that evoke fear and hope.
6) Victory lies on the side of the people.
He admits that politics is contextual and that we cannot apply any rules rigidly. There are times when the situation is such that being aggressive will work against you. But he uses the word USUALLY, not always.
In the last chapter he talks about the tactics of winning the next elections. He sees the victory lying in inclusion. While it is true that in 2000 Bush reached out to minorities and they turned away from him, that does not mean his approach was wrong. The GOP cannot remain a largely white and rural party. We need to remember Reagan’s Big Tent. We need to expose the destructiveness of the race industry and the Democrat political system of quotas, categories and identity politics. We need to be a party of individual merit, inclusion, and judging everyone by the SAME standard. The GOP needs to be the party of OPTIMISIM, OPPORTUNITY, and EQUALITY and not Balkanization.
I enjoyed this little book and think it offers a great deal of good advice. I do not have a clue whether the GOP party operators will listen or learn. Generally, people who have gained positions of power suppose they got there because they know more than the people who aren’t there. And they tend to talk rather than listen.
We shall see.
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