Many years ago, I bought a pin, one of many with a funny saying on it. This one was about how to deal with conflict and those we find ourselves in opposition with. It simply read:
“When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that firefighters usually use water”
This is a nice feel-good sentiment, kind of going with those lessons our parents told us, like “two wrongs don’t make a right” or even the golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” But more and more in politics we find that these rules are not as applicable as we once thought. We realize that the conventional wisdom is not as wise as we have been lead to believe.
When you first get involved with politics, there is a tendency to seek advice from those that have been involved longer than you. This is one of the main reasons for political parties. To gather like minded individuals together and work along side each other to get more acceptable candidates elected. Yet even with this wealth of knowledge, there is often a majority party and a minority party. In Connecticut the majority party is usually the Democrats and the minority party is usually the Republicans. Why is that?
As a Republican, you can look at any number of problems facing our state and wonder why to people keep ushering in the same one-party rule we have seen for more than 40 years? Is it because people genuinely want to pay high taxes, do they want to live with high unemployment? Is it because of all the businesses leaving, or is it because of the neighbors leaving that people keep electing more of the same? Or is it because they really don’t see a better option? I think this has to be a big part of it, they really don’t see any meaningful change coming from a Republican candidate.
Talk to almost any Republican candidate one on one and you will hear something different than you do on the campaign trail. This is because of the campaign advice they get about being electable. Often, we are told two things that end up making us less Republican, but more importantly less different. First, we are told to run a positive campaign, don’t stoop to their level. Often this extends to being told not to bring up a Democrat opponent’s voting record. The other is that to be elected by the Democrat majority of voters, you need to make yourself more like and likeable by the democrats. In other words, be less different.
Perhaps instead of trying to be less different and then wondering why the voters picked more of the same, we should try to be more different and actually offer the voters a viable option. What’s wrong with telling people that the bill they didn’t like was not only supported by your opponent it was sponsored by him? Remember that legislation that made it harder to sell your home or run your business, well my opponent voted for it and I wouldn’t have. It might just be that simple.
But this taking the high road mentality extends far past election time. It basically means that we are told not to criticize a Democrat, and certainly never make fun of them. Recently Joe Biden fell up the stairs, and as the internet is want to do, many comments and memes and cartoons were generated. At the same time as the Democrats went into damage control mode, the Republicans helped them by trying to declare all of this commentary as somehow off limits. This when around a month earlier the Democrats were celebrating the death of Rush Limbaugh, some is openly disgusting and despicable ways. So, we take the high road and they win the high offices.
When Donald Trump ran for president, he, and his message, managed to resonate with many voters that would not have traditionally voted Republican. He got people to cross conventionally accepted lines based on economic, racial and religious factors. Senior party advisors still can’t figure out how he did this. Some are trying to figure out how to catch that lightning in a bottle, and others are busy trying to make sure it never happens again.
One thing that most can agree on is that Donald Trump did not confine himself to the high road. He called Ted Cruz “Lying Ted” and yet Ted Cruz became one of his biggest allies both in fighting the two sham impeachments and in his reelection campaign. I for one am tired of taking the high road, and then quietly licking the wounds of our defeat while proclaiming that I ran a clean campaign.
We know all is not well with Joe Biden. While I am not qualified to make an exact medical diagnosis, why is it wrong to raise the same questions of fitness for office that were raise against Donald Trump for four years? I do believe that he has some sort of cognitive disability, and that his fall on the stairs the day after he called his second in command the president.is a bad sign. I believe he is being used and that his family is well aware of it, but have become so used to the benefits of high office that they will allow him to be used. I have come to accept that it is allowable and acceptable to call him out for every failing, be it political, physical or mental.
America was started as a revolutionary movement. We tried the pleasant options and finally realized we could not continue to thrive as subject colonies of England. We owe our existence to our founders who finally realized that we needed to fight for what we believed in. To paraphrase another metaphor, it is time for the gloves to come off. If we don’t want to stand up and try to fix what we see as the problems facing our cities, our state and our country, then we might as well write to the Queen and apologize for the two hundred-and forty-five-year experiment in independence, Tell her we are ready to return from citizenship to being her loyal subjects. Maybe she will make Megan Markle our colonial governor, since so many of us are enthralled with her every word.
Some will say that what lead so many former Democrats to walk away from the party they thought best represented them, was a growing sense of discomfort. I have heard that the way to reach out to these recent dissidents and those that may not have walked away yet is to make them uncomfortable. Well, if the strategy is to do this, then the tactics needs to be much more no holds barred. Politics is rarely about absolutes; it is much more about gray areas. Sadly, more than a few of them, ethical in nature.
So back to fighting fire with fire, we have to look at another lesson from firefighting, this one from the world of land management and forestry. The concept of back burning, where fire is literally fought by lighting another fire. This is not an exact analogy, as one could apply the concept to taking out our own (like in a primary) before the other side can beat us to it. But it remains that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. It is time to start showing the voters what makes us different, why we are the better option. It is time to get serious about winning elections, and that may mean using the same methods of campaigning that have propelled our opponents to victory for many years.