This isn’t the usual type of column. This is homework.
First, go read Garry Kasparov’s column in the New York Post from yesterday. For those who are unfamiliar with Kasparov, he achieved fame for being the best chess player in the world (and, arguably, of all time). From there, he shifted to politics and activism, including an attempt to run against Putin in 2008. He’s the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and the founder of the Renew Democracy Initiative. He’s written glowingly of Ronald Reagan’s efforts to combat human rights violations around the world. In other words, he’s one of the world’s greatest strategists, is personally familiar with many of the figures in the international corridors of power, and is on some key topics aligned with classical – not modern – Republican views.
It should be unsurprising to learn that his tweets are often pinned in the comment sections around here.
Then I ask you to procure a copy of Running Against the Devil by Rick Wilson. It’s available in hardcover and as an audiobook. Rick Wilson is another person who should be familiar. He’s a co-founder of The Lincoln Project and the creator of the oft-used term “Everything Trump Touches Dies”. He’s a professional political consultant, which alone is not particularly impressive, but his list of successes unfurls back across decades, and that list is impressive. Those successes center around one thing: he wins elections. He knows what questions to get the pollsters to ask, what messages to hone and how to phrase them, when and where to release negative information about a candidate to cause the most damage and how to drop positive information for the best possible result.
Rick Wilson is also regularly reposted in the comment sections of this site.
Running Against the Devil is Rick Wilson giving away a full political analysis and campaign breakdown for the cost of a hardcover. He explains, in detail, how to beat Trump.
More importantly, he explains how the Democrats will lose to Trump. Not “can”. “Will”. He frames the book in simple, stark terms like that in an effort to shake people out of their complacency. Yes, Trump is beatable… very easily so, in fact. It’ll be harder for the Democrat to lose than it will be for them to simply accept a win. But he anticipates that unless the Democrats pay attention to what he’s telling them, they’ll play directly into the Republican hands and lose.
Specifically, he addresses swing states, where the electoral victory must be won, and what is needed to win in those states. For those who haven’t yet read it, I’ll reveal a secret: it’s not policy.
He provides an extensive explanation of what tactics will be most effective against the Trump campaign, and unsurprisingly they’re tactics on display in Wilson’s Twitter feed and in the Lincoln Project commercials. He attacks Trump on a personal level, taking every opportunity to demonstrate that Trump is stupid, feeble, corrupt, inept, and a puppet of foreign enemies.
There’s not much on Wilson’s Twitter feed about racism claims regarding the police abuse protests; on the occasions he posts about the current protests, it is promoting the notion of individual rights and keeping police from overstepping the limits of their authority. I don’t know whether those posts happen because he recognizes the need to maintain a level of association with a base – the Democrats aren’t going to listen to him if he’s completely ignoring something they find critically important – or whether it’s because of the personal affront that many human rights-oriented former Republicans feel when overstepping governmental authority not only is accepted but championed at high levels.
Overwhelmingly, though, he’s focused on one thing: removing Trump in November. This is because if that doesn’t happen, none of the other complaints matter. If Trump is re-elected, law enforcement will be encouraged to act abusively. Eddie Gallagher was pardoned of war crimes, and a little rough handling will be minor by comparison. Refugees will continue to be forced to clean covid-19 case areas without protective gear. Political enemies will be investigated by Barr, and political allies will have investigations squelched. Every item that is held up as a key issue will be rendered null and void.
The Democrats want to make this about issues. Some want to virtue signal to their friends, others want to be perceived as saviors, some enjoy a sense of superiority from being more enlightened, and a great many just want to fix a problem. All of them are shooting themselves in the foot. The only issues which should be addressed are those which have more than 60% approval in all of the swing states, and those aren’t controversial ones. “I want to get rid of the rare bad actors among the police.” That’s a statement a majority of people will get behind. “Innocent black people shouldn’t be harassed by police.” That’s another one.
Rick Wilson’s model should be followed by everyone else… and if you find yourself doubting, remember that Garry Kasparov backs him up on this. The goal is to remove Trump. We have a blueprint – the Running Against the Devil you should be reading (or rereading) – for doing exactly that, and Trump’s making it easier still by botching his pandemic response.
Failure to follow that blueprint is a greater measure of support for Trump than any individual vote might be, and increases the risk of Trump’s second term.