All politics is warfare by other means, or at least that’s what preeminent thinker, Carl von Clausewitz, postulated in his magnum opus, On War. And what is warfare if not organization of violence through force? In warfare, violence is the means to achieving a political end. In politics, though violence can at times be employed, the typical means is argumentation and legislation (especially in modern Western societies, such as those in Europe and the United States).
But, the key to political action is organization.
And organization not only requires gutsy leadership and a committed grassroots movement…it needs money to sustain itself. Victories in political warfare are feast-or-famine. When the feast is at hand, the money pours in droves. Sadly, most political movements, especially those in opposition, rarely feasting.
In the United States today, there are two diametrically opposed political parties. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party engage in the warfare of Genghis Khan every two-and-four years (actually, over the last 20 years, the political warfare in America is seemingly non-stop). Sadly, only one of the two parties is actually effective at not only fighting but winning.
Since FDR, the United States has tilted toward the Democratic Party side of things. After the Second World War ended, even when a Republican, Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected, the paradigm established by the Democratic Party under FDR’s three presidential terms remained the default position. Seven of the last 15 presidents were Republican. Yet, the country continued listing toward Leftist preferences.
Because beginning with the rise of the Progressives at the turn of the twentieth century, the Left had organized for action. Leftists took over unions. They became famous playwrights and actors. Hollywood became Liberal. Academia went to the Left. The federal bureaucracy went to the Democratic side as well. In current times, as we’ve seen, corporations are Left-leaning as well.
Even when Republicans controlled the White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate; when more conservative justices populated the Supreme Court of the United States; or when more state and local governments were controlled by Republicans…the Democrats kept winning.
In the great film, Fail Safe, Walter Matthau portrays a Henry Kissinger or Herman Kahn-like character. During one of his lectures about nuclear warfare, he asks his audience to consider whether a group of death row inmates who escape Supermax prison or a team of office clerks would win a ware in a post-apocalyptic United States?
The audience naturally answers that, in such a post-apocalyptic society, might would make right and the ex-cons would win. Matthau’s character shakes his head and corrects the audience by saying that, in fact, the office clerks would win in a fight.
How so, you may ask?
The answer: better organization. The office clerks were professional organizers. They may have been pencil-neck geeks. But, the same skills they needed to run efficient offices would be required to not only rebuild a functional society in a post-apocalyptic setting would also be needed to fight–and win–against the murderous brigands who’d inevitably come to populate a post-apocalyptic world.
America today isn’t a nuclear wasteland. But, judging just how badly the country has been gutted by deindustrialization, neoliberalism, corruption, etc., it does at times appear post-apocalyptic if not physically then certainly societally. Income inequality is at staggering levels. The Millennial generation, the largest cohort in America today, is quantifiably worst off than previous generations were at their same age. In fact, the Millennials only hold six percent of the nation’s wealth–the Baby Boom generation owned three times that much when they were the age of current Millennials. This creates a situation ripe for revolutionary politics and political warfare.
The Democrats are winning. The Republicans are outclassed at every level. Which, is strange, because the GOP does have deep pockets to call on. It also has a loud and influential alternative media ecosystem. So, what gives?
The GOP is really bad at organizing. Oh, sure, it can win elections. Again, half of the modern presidents were Republicans. But their impact on bureaucracy and wider society is stunted by partisans operating at the lower level. That’s because, win or lose, the Democratic Party is organized and galvanized for action–regardless of whether or not their political officials are in power or in the minority. And the Democrats enjoy Bolshevik-level discipline whereas Republicans spend their time sniping at each other and jockeying for better position at the top of the pile. It’s quite pathetic. And the Republicans don’t recognize just how outclassed they are.
What’s more, the Republicans tend to seek out a single individual to represent their interests whereas the Democrats really do operate more like a collective. Sure, former President Obama was hugely popular among Democrats. And they’ve historically loved their candidates (FDR, JFK, LBJ, for example). But behind those candidates were a cadre of partisan warriors with extensive education and organizational capabilities. Individually they fit well into a larger, well-oiled organization. Even Obama was more of a cutout for Democratic Party interests. He fit well into their preferred paradigm and narrative (a person of color, young, vibrant, seemingly hip, and avowedly committed to Leftist ideology).
This is not so of Republicans.
The GOP tends to take on the characteristics of its presidents and party leaders. This is why the Tea Party was diminished for most of its existence. It’s also why, today, the GOP cannot fathom any other presidential candidate in 2024 than Donald Trump (or a Trump-approved candidate). On the other hand, the GOP remains remarkably tethered to the Bush paradigm that the two presidents, George H.W. and George W. Bush imposed upon the party. It’s all about personality on the Right than organization.
Just look at the disastrous Trump transition in 2017 (which this author and other Republicans was completely burned by only to discover that Mr. Trump hired the very same Bush retreads that he had waged war against in the 2016 primary). For most of the four years of the Trump Administration, he left critical offices at the State and Defense Departments, for example, open.
He believed this was a way to save money and win plaudits from the voters. It was not. He even gutted the pandemic response office at the National Security Council which really came back to bite him (since Trump lost almost exclusively because of his piss-poor organizational efforts to respond to COVID-19–Operation Warp Speed notwithstanding).
Ultimately, Trump hired Bush retreads or kept offices unfilled, meaning the bureaucracy had greater, not less, control over policy implementation (and who do you think the bureaucracy is loyal to, the Democrats or Republicans?) It’s no wonder that the Trump Administration was one of the most disastrous presidencies in modern history (all talk, no substance). Why do you think Trump “stopped being Trump” as so many Trump voters fretted? It’s because he surrounded himself with half-wits incapable of organizing for victory.
Consider this: since 2018, every Republican official mocked and belittled Stacy Abrams absurd claims that she lost the Georgia governor’s race. Yet, Abrams maintained the lie–she might even actually believe it, like both Al Gore and Hillary Clinton believe their respective presidential elections were stolen from them–and segued that claim into a powerful position in the “mainstream” media as a pundit.
Once her position was established and elevated, she maneuvered herself as head of a potent organization in Republican Red Georgia. The Right continued mocking her and she kept organizing in Georgia. For two years. She absorbed money and talent and fused those things to her political agenda.
When the 2020 election rolled around, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the head of the Democratic Party in the United States Senate, urged Abrams to run for one of Georgia’s senate seats. If she couldn’t have the governorship in Georgia, then at least her fealty to the Democratic Party would be repaid with a cushy seat in the US Senate. Abrams said “no, thanks.” She had other plans.
Abrams, the woman who fancied herself as the real governor of Georgia, vowed to get her vengeance by making Georgia a blue state–something as silly sounding to most Republicans as the Democrats’ desire to turn Texas blue.
Abrams had the last laugh.
She put Raphael Warnock on Schumer’s radar and told the national Democratic Party that Warnock should run for the senate seat that so many had wanted her to run for. Abrams would instead remain in Georgia and organize the Hell out of the state to beat Trump and the Republicans.
She earned her bona fides with the party–sacrificed her own personal political gain for the greater party–and with her organization, Abrams turned Georgia blue. It might not have become a California or New York blue, but thanks in large part to Abrams’ organizational efforts, Georgia turned blue enough to help Donald Trump lose the election (yes, Trump lost. No, it was not “stolen”).
Does the GOP even have anyone or any organization comparable to the one that Abrams created in Georgia? She was not blinded by the possibilities that national office would have garnered for her own career. She was a believer in her cause and she now has a vast–and growing–organization in Georgia that will likely outclass the Republicans for the next few years. Meanwhile, the ignoramuses on Right-wing media keep mocking her and calling the Democrats “socialists” (they are). No one is listening.
As George C. Scott’s rendition of US Army General George S. Patton quipped in the opening of the eponymously named film, Patton, “Americans hate a loser.” The Republicans appear as the beautiful losers. Even when they win. This can only be remedied by getting better organized; it can only be accomplished by the Republican Party’s vast funding apparatus to completely stop funding most of the organizations and people they’ve been funding and to instead focus on the elements who will actually move the needle forward–not just now, to win elections–but to reclaim the culture, the unions, the bureaucracy, etc.
Of course, the moneyed interests know that I’m right. But they don’t care. Instead, they pour gobs of money into entities that do little to further the Right’s agenda and much to suborn the continued dominance of the Left. Not all of them are bad. But most are ineffective. In warfare, be it political or physical, the least well organized lose. After all, no one is still bowing before the majesty and might of the Austro-Hungarian Empire or voting for the Whig Party’s presidential candidate in the United States today.
Unless the organizational capabilities and funding patterns of the Republican Party change at a fundamental level now, the GOP will be a permanent minority. Donald Trump won’t change this paradigm either. No one can. It requires a group effort. And the Republicans as a group are a disaster.