Time is running out on American exceptionalism. The light of liberty is flickering. At no point since we still had the Redcoats on our shores has freedom been more imperiled. This time it's not an invading foreign power that threatens us, but our own government gone wild - unhinged from its Constitutional limits.
Many great books have been written about what we should believe and why, or why the Left's beliefs are flawed, but never before has a book been written that shows how to do what we believe.
The Left has its playbook, Saul Alinsky's infamous Rules for Radicals. Now the good guys have theirs. Endorsed by a who's who of the conservative movement, we present Rules for Patriots.
Steve Deace represents a new generation of conservatives more concerned with preserving liberty than blind partisanship that only props up a corrupt ruling class. To Deace and the millions of grassroots patriots he represents, it's not just Right vs. Left, but Right vs. Wrong. It's not just Republican vs. Democrat, but Us vs. Them.
Called a "conservative kingmaker" for his influence in the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses from everyone from Fox News and Breitbart.com on the Right, to The Atlantic on the Left, his nationally-syndicated talk show is heard coast-to-coast each weeknight from 9pm to midnight Eastern. Deace is also a prolific writer who has contributed to USA Today, Politico, Business Insider, Townhall, and The Washington Times.
I have been involved in politics since I was a young boy, and passionate about it for most of my life. My main focus has been on political philosophy and policy and not so much on the science of winning elections. I've often supported candidates, but I've never been a political operative or strategist. But that doesn't keep some people from assuming I'm knowledgeable about election strategy. After all, I've been writing a mostly political, nationally syndicated column for fifteen years so it's only natural people would make that assumption.
Based on that assumption, people often say to me, "This country is in such a mess. Everything is upside down and it keeps getting worse. Our culture has been overrun by those who believe wrong is right and right is wrong. Our governmental ruling class continues to expand government, drive us into national bankruptcy, abuse the Constitution and destroy our liberties, yet we can't seem to do anything about it.
Most people I talk to agree that we are going in the wrong direction, but we keep losing elections anyway. Even when we win, we don't make much progress in pushing back the government. You deal with this stuff everyday, David, so please tell me what we can do to stop this madness. Tell me what I can do to make a difference. I am not ready to give up on America. I will never give up on my children's future, but unless we find a way to turn this around their future doesn't look so bright. I am completely serious; I'm ready and willing to fight back. Just give me some direction."
To be completely honest with you, I've never had an adequate answer for these questions. Believe me, if I had a magical solution for turning things around I'd be shouting it out from the rooftops. I have some ideas, but they are broad philosophical points rather than a point-by-point strategy for winning elections.
My usual response is that first we have to stand up for the principles we believe in and express them unapologetically, even if the environment we're in makes that difficult. We have to encourage true conservatives to run for office - people who believe in the ideas of limited government and maximizing our political liberties. Quality people who are not just one-dimensional candidates, but who endorse all three legs of Ronald Reagan's three-legged stool: economic conservatism, social conservatism and foreign policy conservatism. This isn't to say that we have to be uncompromising purists or that we want to exclude from our tent those who don't agree with us on everything, but generally we should cultivate and encourage leaders who are comprehensively conservative.
Not only is it best for our nation that we support principled conservatives, but it is, in most cases, the best strategy for winning national elections.
Polling has repeatedly shown that twice as many Americans self-identify as conservatives than as liberals. But we're not going to capitalize on that if we don't offer voters candidates who represent a true alternative to the nightmare of galloping statism from the ruling class. By supporting genuine conservatives who believe in the principles that have made America great, we will fire up and intensify our grassroots conservative base. We will energize people to vote because they will understand that their vote will make a difference in the direction of this country, instead of being wasted on a GOP candidate who talks the small-government talk, but ends governing like a Democrat.
I don't buy into the conventional wisdom preached by establishment Republicans that we must soften our message, or abandon social issues, in order to win independents, and that we must support milquetoast moderates because we won't be able to change anything unless we first get Republicans elected.
In the first place, I refuse to concede that Reagan conservatism is extremism or that it won't appeal to a substantial majority of the American people, if clearly and passionately articulated. America may well be drifting to the left, but timeless conservative policies are still the best formula for restoring prosperity, reversing our exploding debt, and making America stronger.
Notice that Democrats never preach bipartisanship, except when they're lecturing Republicans and seeking to shame them into joining them in further growing the government. The so-called bipartisan proposals never result in the rolling back of government or actual cuts in federal spending. Democrats never modulate their own ideas, which truly are extreme, and they keep winning national elections anyway. The Democratic presidential candidate has won the popular vote in five out of the last six presidential elections.
This, despite the fact that the GOP has nominated moderates rather than conservatives in those elections, from George H. W. Bush, to Bob Dole, to George W. Bush to John McCain, to Mitt Romney.
I tell people that in addition to nominating and supporting likeminded candidates, we must have the courage to stand up for our convictions personally, instead of pretending things are just fine and that our positions won't make much difference. We shouldn't be abrasive or strident, but we need people to understand that we believe these are matters of grave importance and that we shouldn't just leave the political discussion to the politicians, pundits, and strategists. If we succumb to apathy or the cynical resignation that nothing we do will make a difference, we will, through our silence, be contributing to the demise of our nation and the destruction of our children's future.
Beyond expressing these general ideas, I find myself woefully...
inadequate at providing a specific roadmap for conservative electoral victories. I repeat: I am not an expert in political strategy and I am short on advice on the particulars. But I'm also aware that many of those who are knowledgeable in electoral strategy and tactics, even those on the political right, tend to be more interested in winning for winning's sake or for the advancement of their careers, as opposed to advancing substantive conservative ideas. I am not comfortable turning our future over to soulless political hired guns more interested in the game than in America's future.
I have long hoped that we could find a person representing the best of both worlds: a principled conservative with his finger on the pulse of the modern culture and savvy in both substantive policy and electoral strategy. Does any such person exist on our side - one who believes in America and who knows how to fight as effectively as a cutthroat liberal operative, but without compromising his convictions or operating unethically?
Let's face it; liberal Democrats have an advantage in politics because they generally subscribe to the view that the end justifies the means. They're all too willing to employ unethical means to achieve what they misperceive to be virtuous ends. Obama is the quintessential ends-justifies-means politician, who was trained at the feet of community organizing guru Saul Alinsky, whose "Rules for Radicals" has been his bible for demonizing opponents, winning elections, and advancing the radical progressive agenda, even though his progressive ideas have been minority ideas.
Is there no way we conservatives can win against such ruthlessness without abandoning our own principles and campaigning as unethically as our opponents? Do we have to fight hellfire with hellfire? Perish that thought. We mustn't surrender to the notion that we cannot compete against evil without becoming evil ourselves. We must remain confident that superior and nobler ideas will prevail if properly presented - that the truth will set us free.
We must also reject the hackneyed advice that we must choose between pragmatism and principle. There has to be a pragmatic strategy for winning while proudly proclaiming, rather than running from, our principles. That sounds nice, but there's a world of difference between instinctively believing there is such a principled strategy and actually knowing what it is.
Enter my friend, Steve Deace, with his "Rules for Patriots" in hand. When he asked me to read his book and consider writing a foreword for it, I had no idea what his prescriptions were.
Frankly, I've talked to a lot of smart people who've analyzed the 2012 election and our current political predicament and have proposed a number of intriguing ideas for Republicans to recapture the majority. But in my view, Steve Deace is the only one who is presenting the right blend of ideas - a blueprint for victory that is brilliantly strategic, smartly tactical, and yet grounded in, rather than compromising our conservative principles.
There is no conflict between Deace's strategic proposals and the articulation and advancement of principled conservatism, precisely because his strategic proposals are steeped in these principles themselves.
We need to learn, says Deace, how to "win to govern, instead of governing to win." But establishment Republicans, he notes, believe "you win to lead," while the grassroots understand that "you lead to win." The establishment side, sadly, has controlled the consultant class and there has been "a void among consultants who thought it was their job to help the conservative candidate persuade voters to his principles, as opposed to consultants persuading conservative candidates to water down their principles to appease the masses." What a refreshing perspective.
Steve is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host based in Iowa, the state that always has the first GOP presidential caucus, giving him
"a bird's eye view of the how the sausage gets made" and an opportunity "to meet many of the politicians, pundits, consultants, journalists and movers and shakers" involved in the process. This "unique opportunity" has given him a perspective that others might not have to "see what works and what does not. To see why candidates falter and fail, and why they thrive and succeed."
Drawing on this experience, Deace developed a ten-point approach for conservatives running for elective office, which he calls "Deace's 10 Commandments of Political Warfare," and which he presents and explains in this book. Finally, a "how to" book for conservatives and Republicans based on the Biblical injunction that we be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. Deace shows that we can be as savvy and effective as Clinton war room thugs without adopting their amoral tactics.
Having just turned 40, Steve is in a better position than some of us to understand what's going on with the younger generations.
He understands that the culture is influencing politics more than politics is influencing culture and he has tailored his ideas accordingly. He understands that it is difficult to persuade people of ideas that at are at odds with their own worldview and so recommends that we develop long-term strategies to make significant inroads into the culture, the public schools and universities. But he also recognizes that worldview evangelism is a long-term proposition - that it's going to take years to reverse these trends that have been years in the making. Obviously, we can't afford to wait for years to start winning elections. We must begin to do this immediately.
How do we do that? Deace points out that Obama won young voters, even though they've been the group hardest hit by his policies - they'll bear the brunt of this debilitating debt he's created. But we aren't succeeding in winning them over by broad appeals to values, like Judeo-Christian morality and limited government, because these ideas don't resonate with them, given their education and background.
Instead of wooing them with abstract values, we need to offer them concrete solutions. "When someone's self-interest is at stake, solutions trump values every time." We need to show them how our policies will make their lives better - directly. And we're not making that case.
But before we can successfully present proposed solutions for our many problems we have to overcome another daunting obstacle. The Republican Party is the existing vehicle for advancing a conservative agenda and its platform is based on traditional values and ideas that have made America unique. But at this point, the powerbrokers of the Republican Party often stand in the way of conservative ideas, rather than promoting them.
The Republican Party establishment has shown great resistance to grassroots conservatives and to conservative leaders who refuse to place their allegiance to party above their conservative principles. Deace has dubbed the Republican ruling class "Republicrats," which he says,
aren't much different from Democrats. They pretend to be conservatives by paying lip service to conservative principles. But they are even worse than so-called RINOs (Republicans in name only), because at least RINOs openly campaign and govern from the middle-left. Republicrats are sneakier because they campaign as conservatives, but then proceed to govern from the middle-left. Indeed, they devote more energy and resources to fighting grassroots conservatives and the tea party than they do in opposing Democrats. "Instead of being excited by an energized base," he says, they [are] threatened by it."
Deace says that in order to understand why the nation continues to be governed from the left despite the majority of Americans leaning to the right, we must understand that there are three primary languages used in contemporary American politics. People either speak in plain English, politically correct speech, or in a technocratic dialect - the latter being the vernacular of the "Republicrat ruling class."
This dialect, argues, Deace, is used to fool conservatives into supporting establishment Republican candidates who are anything but conservative. Deace identifies ten phrases most often used by Republicrats to pull off this linguistic deception and tells us how to recognize it for what it is.
Deace is correct about the Republican establishment's resistance to the conservative agenda. The establishment wing of the Republican Party tells us we have to avoid an impasse with President Obama and his Democratic congress at every turn, because, for example, if the government shuts down as a result of this impasse, no matter how much it may be the Democrats' fault, the Republicans will be blamed for it. We're told we have to surrender short of shutting the government down, even if it means piling on the national debt, continuing to ignore entitlements, increasing taxes, and gutting the military.
The GOP establishment almost always ends up capitulating, more or less, to the ...
Obama liberals, arguing that we're impotent until we win the next election. "It's simply the best we can do for now and we must keep our powder dry for the next election.
If we fight too hard, we'll look like extremists and lose the next election." For them, it's always about the next election. And we continue to lose every such "next election" by following their fecklessness. In the meantime, for good measure, the establishment demonizes and vilifies those bold patriots like Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, who insist on standing up to Obama in the here and now and not waiting for the mythical panacea of the "next election."
Deace offers concrete and effective ideas for nominating and electing principled conservative Republicans over the opposition of both establishment Republicans and Democrats.
He does not recommend cashiering the Republican Party in favor of a third party, but taking back the party from within, then using it - as it was intended - to advance the ideas of its base, which is decidedly conservative. The answer is not to acquiesce in the Republican Party's movement to the left under the leadership of Republicrats who have contempt for the party's very base, but to recapture it and turn it around.
At some points in this book, Deace is very hard hitting against certain establishment politicians and political operatives and I don't share his sometimes-harsh assessments in every case. But his specific ideas for recapturing the Republican Party for conservatism and for winning elections are thoughtful, and, I believe, immensely promising.
It is about time that someone on our side, someone truly on our side who shares our convictions, presented us with a viable plan that has a real chance of making a difference in changing America's political class for the better. Steve Deace has done just that, with this provocative, smart, bold, innovative and powerful book.