Wednesday, January 18, 2017

From the Military Philosopher's Bunker to Those Entering the Political Trenches

Some advice for those trying to resist The Donald tide as it rolls in, reflecting a life spent in the study of war, warfare, peace, and policy.

Students of warfare talk about “The Center or Gravity”, the decisive point or the decision point, etc. but it generally means the same thing referring to the person(s) or point in time and space that you must control in order to determine what happens next.

In the ongoing political contest the center of gravity, the point of decision, is in the hearts and minds of your fellow Americans.  But remember that you are not fighting, defeating, or beating them you are persuading them to share some common ground or common viewpoint with you.  Whatever it may seem they are a NOT foreign “other” but fellow Americans with an amazing variety in origins, background, experiences, but a common commitment to this country.  Most importantly remember that just because someone has been silenced does not mean that they have been convinced.

You will have to pick your fights. You can't fight everywhere all of the time, you need to focus on the most important issues where you can win and then go all in.  This is called concentration of effort or mass.

Never interrupt your opponent when he's in the middle of making a mistake. You will not win this fight by constantly screaming and shouting and yelling in order to persuade people who voted for Donald that they made a mistake. Leave that job to the Donald.  Otherwise, you will find that your audience quickly tunes you out as mere background noise.

Don't confuse outrage with passion. The forces of chaos, fear, and division would like nothing more than for those with heart and vision to become numbed and exhausted by the outrage-du-jour and a false sense of needing to defend against every perceived disrespect or slight or to counter every lie. It is our passion for the best that we can be that will carry us through the long haul -- especially if it can be combined with shared passions of people from other ethnic, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds.  And whether you're feeling outrage or passion, channel it and keep a clear head.

In this contest the moral high ground is every bit as important as and perhaps even more important than the tactical high ground.  In modern politics transparency is invaluable so always be prepared to show your work.

Remember, you are not fighting for the future of the Democratic Party or any other party, you are fighting to protect those who are vulnerable and cannot protect themselves and depend upon the people they vote for to do that for them. A tradition in American politics is that if you look out for the people they will look out for you. Whatever you might think of Jesse Helms (and Ian Paisley for that matter) a close examination will show you that they were brilliant constituency politicians who looked out for the people in their district.

Finally, this will be a long struggle over years. It will not be decided quickly or easily so pace yourselves (and as noted, pick your fights, no need to pound your head against a brick wall with no promise of any return on the effort).