Sat, 18 Sept 2010
Lieutenant Colonel Allen B West (US Army, Ret)
“The Politics of Character Assassination”
“If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside”…..Eleventh Rule of Tactics
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it”……Thirteenth Rule of Tactics
Greetings my fellow riders, South Floridians, and all Americans, it is time for our monthly political assessment. First, I just want to thank you all for your support during the August primary election….as well thanks for coming up and telling me how you appreciate this column.
The two quotes from above did not come from any brilliant military strategist. They come from the book written by Saul Alinsky entitled, “Rules for Radicals; A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals”. This book was written in 1971 by Mr Alinsky, a Chicago native, and has been referred to by many members of the Democrat party, some rather senior. The book’s tone is set right from the beginning with its author’s acknowledgement to “the first radical known to man”, Lucifer.
I truly believe the major story which dominates this election season is that of character assassination. We are seeing less of an ideological debate on the prescient issues affecting our Republic between contenders. This has seemingly been replaced by the ever intensifying 11th and 13th rules from Alinsky’s book. The fact that many incumbents are using their vast campaign coffers, not to present their case, but rather demonize their opponents is becoming more apparent.
I hate to think that Americans are contributing to campaigns to see their hard earned money to be used in such a petty manner, something this campaign shall never do.
As well, we witness daily the print, online, and televised media sources that have chosen their targets and in my estimation, fire volley upon volley of verbal artillery. Yes, this may have been the case all along but I believe you would agree that this has become modus operandi in the current American political scene. It is as though the objective analysis of the issues has been replaced by hearty partisan cheerleading, especially where we had trusted our media to be objective.
In this current election cycle I must admit that I am constantly amazed at the vicious attacks against the conservative American grassroots movement called, “The Tea Party”. I had no idea what the term “tea bagger” meant and when I was enlightened, well, I was appalled. This movement has completely restructured the political scene of the 2010 midterm elections. I find it interesting that most people who I meet that speak out against the Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party has never attended an event….they just repeat media talking points.
In my 6-7 speaking engagements at Tea Party events I have just found concerned Americans who want to restore Constitutional principles and want leaders who will abide by those foundational principles. What is happening is that this movement is supporting candidates that they are willing to take a chance with regardless of their not having the approved “political establishment” credentials. I thought the Constitution was very clear on the requirements to run for political office in America.
However, what we find is the vehement attacks levied against this movement and candidates they support. We have seen the use of countless derogatory references, which often are proven untrue. But, if you tell a lie enough, eventually it can, or will, be considered the truth.
We saw this play out wholeheartedly in the GOP nomination of Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware primary. What was amazing for many who are also GOP nominees was the horrific response from the Republican party establishment to her nomination. When some were pressed they conceded that Congressman Castle was preferred because they felt he could win. It begs the question, is it more important to win with no principles than to stand for something? That is the question the Republican party had soon answer unless they seek to steal defeat from the jaws of victory.
This is where I ask the question, what is a moderate? What are the principles and values of a moderate? America cannot be led by individuals who awake each day and decide, based upon political winds, what their values are? My Mother , Elizabeth Thomas West, had a great maxim she taught me, “a Man must stand for something, or else he will fall for anything”. The failures of “moderates” as leaders can be seen in California and even here in our home state of Florida…..where unemployment just rose.
The lesson from the O’Donnell primary victory is that the people will take the risk that is principled, than a perceived victory that is not.
And then there is the vile means by which the liberal left has defined campaigning in this cycle. Early on DNC Chairman Tim Kaine made it clear this was not going to be about the liberal progressive socialist legislative agenda, truly indefensible. Instead it would be about attacking the individual and false branding, so instead of meeting on the battleground of ideological ideas this season has turned into a bad National Enquirer reality show. The negative TV ads, personal attacks based upon lies and half information, and the purposeful hiding of most incumbents are becoming the standard for this election cycle.
What this all evidences is a desperation among a ruling class of political elites who wish not to be challenged and certainly wish not to lose power.
This reminds me of a great quote from one of our Founding Fathers, “Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens” (George Mason, 17 June 1788, Virginia Ratifying Convention).
The real impetus behind the politics of character assassination is control. Control by a group forming a new American “Politburo” who no longer find themselves willing to return to the general mass of the people. Control by a group of career political elites who feel they know what is best for all of us and are not willing to participate in our burdens. Control by a group that is certainly not compelled to regard the interest of their constituents, which has been replaced by their own personal interest and special interest.
The politics of character assassination in the 2010 midterm election cycle is about the DC political establishment feeling it slipping away. What was once referred to as “astroturf” is now having a recognized impact. What was once considered a playground for certain individuals is now open to us all. And what frustrates the pundits the most? They cannot clearly define this movement and attack it because of its loose decentralized nature….kinda resembles what frustrated the British back when 13 unorganized colonies stood up to them……led by Men of Principle.
In this election cycle, shall we stand with principled men and women who will risk themselves and their families? Or shall we believe the lies and politics of character assassination from the ruling masters of Washington DC?
Yes, I am currently experiencing the politics of character assassination but my response is a familiar one…….“Give me Liberty or Give me Death” but I will not succumb nor surrender my Country, the United States of America.
Steadfast and Loyal,
LTC(R) Allen B West