The political battleground shifts

A decisive shift in the political battleground has taken place, and few analysts have noticed. Sun Tzu, the Chinese warlord who assembled the psychological philosophy widely known today as The Art of War, knew what he was talking about, and would have been a formidable political strategist.

With the exception of the queen, the game of chess assigns each piece very specific tactics, and very specific limitations.  The queen can project its power in any direction and distance, thus rendering it a formidable piece.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is the pawn.  With the exception of its opening move, the pawn is limited to the advancement of but one square at a time, and can only attack to an advancing diagonal square.  The pawn can never retreat.

The pawn is historically analogous to a common peasant soldier in the ancient times of Master Sun Tzu, the Chinese warlord who assembled the psychological philosophy widely known today as The Art of War.  Sun Tzu understood that the lowly foot soldier, when properly motivated, would become the most powerful piece on the battlefield.

In chess, the lowly pawn advances from friendly territory in a very docile manner at first, but with each successive challenge from the opponent's forces, its aggression becomes more apparent.  The game respects the pawn's aggression and offers it a reward, for if the pawn advances all the way across the board to the back rank of the opponent, the game promotes the pawn to a stronger piece of the player's choosing.  It would be folly to list all the choices, for each and every player who is successful in advancing a pawn to this level chooses the near invincibility of the queen.

The deepest back ranks of the opponent's territory, from which there is no retreat is analogous to the psychological territory that Sun Tzu called death ground.  Just as the game of chess rewards the lowly pawn with the attributes of the mighty queen piece, so too does death ground release a trigger in the peasant soldier, producing the psychological clarity and will to turn and fight for his life with ultimate focus and resolve.  Sun Tzu regards death ground as a battlefield advantage rather than peril because only upon death ground are the ranks fully fortified in their determination.  Over the centuries, many generals have foolishly, and to their own demise, placed their opponent upon death ground

The polar opposite of death ground, by Sun Tzu's logic, is dispersive ground, or one's own territory.  Upon one's own territory, the forces are close to the comforts of home and easily distracted by their personal enthusiasms.  They are easily dispersed, both mentally and physically because they are at ease with the familiarity of the surroundings.  This is where the forces are ultimately the most vulnerable.  Politics is no different.  In On War, his addendum to Sun Tzu's philosophy, Prussian General Carl Von Clausewitz observed that "war is politics by other means," and it is from this parallel that I present the following observation.

After the conservative electorate took legislative control when they handed Congress to the Republicans in 1994 to break the single-party rule of Bill Clinton's election to the Presidency, the conservative ideology began to stagnate, and the promises of the Contract With America -- the prime motivation of grassroots conservatives -- quickly began to lose importance among Republicans, who were taking great delight in the comforts of their new prestige.  Once George W. Bush was in the White House, and a comfortable gridlock of ideology existed within the Supreme Court, all three branches of government fell under control Republican ideology, and the aggregate conservative movement grew dangerously complacent.  To Sun Tzu's line of thinking, conservatives were on dispersive ground.

Oh, there were sporadic voices from the ranks who shouted warnings regarding various erosions of American sovereignty such as illegal immigration, private property rights (Kelo), and fiscal responsibility, but a fat and happy Republican hegemony regarded these voices as "fringe elements," and sought to portray them as outcasts from the ideology.  The Republicans had become lax in a diluted ideology of being "on the fence" with "moderation" and espousing nonsensical terms such as "compassionate conservatism."

Then came the elections of 2006 and 2008, where the watered-down Republican movement chose to engage the liberal opposition with fence-sitting, go-with-the-flow ideologues.  Republicans became so comfortable on their dispersive ground that their half-hearted convictions found them engaging liberal opponents with liberal ideas wrapped in conservative labels.  In response, the conservative grassroots base made its presence known by the ear-splitting sound of its silence at the polls.  The Republican majority lost its momentum so quickly that even the last-ditch effort of bringing a dynamic Reaganesque conservative to the Vice Presidential candidacy so late in the game could not win back enough of the disgruntled base to stem the retreat from the platform.  The ultra-liberal opposition swept a decisive two-thirds control of government; and that last third, The Supreme Court, hangs in a precarious balance!

In enacting their focused agenda, the liberal majority that was granted power over Congress and the White House is now quite determined not to sit on their laurels as the Republicans did with the Contract with America.  The liberals have learned the lesson of the 1994 election, and before they are forced to face the electorate again in 2010, they have launched full-force the juggernaut that is their socialist platform without regard to the impotent pockets of Republican opposition within their ranks.  And rest assured; there will be no "compassionate liberalism" extended to their opponents.

In the face of such aggressive liberal grasps for American liberties, the majority conservative base is now starting to wake up and jump off the fence.  People who once rebuked the Minuteman protesters for going to the US/Mexican border to protest lax immigration enforcement in 2004 are now themselves going to town halls and organizing Tea Party protests of their own, and public opinion polls are now taking decided shifts into traditionally conservative directions.

In short, the American conservative base has been marshaled onto the political equivalent of Sun Tzu's death ground, and the ideological pawns are finding fewer paths of retreat from the advancing onslaught of the liberal agenda.  Let us hope that this death ground empowers conservatives from both political parties to once again become focused in their resolve not to be left out of the process.

As I write these words, we definitely find ourselves deep within the ranks of the liberal stronghold.  There is no compromise now.  The concept of common ground is a luxury we can no longer afford.  The die has been cast and the premise is being dictated to us now.  This is death ground that only the force of will can return us from.  It is time for the silent majority among us to stand and make their voices heard, because if we have learned nothing else from the past 15 years, it should be that silence is considered to be tacit approval by those in power, be they Democrat or Republican alike.
A decisive shift in the political battleground has taken place, and few analysts have noticed. Sun Tzu, the Chinese warlord who assembled the psychological philosophy widely known today as The Art of War, knew what he was talking about, and would have been a formidable political strategist.

With the exception of the queen, the game of chess assigns each piece very specific tactics, and very specific limitations.  The queen can project its power in any direction and distance, thus rendering it a formidable piece.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is the pawn.  With the exception of its opening move, the pawn is limited to the advancement of but one square at a time, and can only attack to an advancing diagonal square.  The pawn can never retreat.

The pawn is historically analogous to a common peasant soldier in the ancient times of Master Sun Tzu, the Chinese warlord who assembled the psychological philosophy widely known today as The Art of War.  Sun Tzu understood that the lowly foot soldier, when properly motivated, would become the most powerful piece on the battlefield.

In chess, the lowly pawn advances from friendly territory in a very docile manner at first, but with each successive challenge from the opponent's forces, its aggression becomes more apparent.  The game respects the pawn's aggression and offers it a reward, for if the pawn advances all the way across the board to the back rank of the opponent, the game promotes the pawn to a stronger piece of the player's choosing.  It would be folly to list all the choices, for each and every player who is successful in advancing a pawn to this level chooses the near invincibility of the queen.

The deepest back ranks of the opponent's territory, from which there is no retreat is analogous to the psychological territory that Sun Tzu called death ground.  Just as the game of chess rewards the lowly pawn with the attributes of the mighty queen piece, so too does death ground release a trigger in the peasant soldier, producing the psychological clarity and will to turn and fight for his life with ultimate focus and resolve.  Sun Tzu regards death ground as a battlefield advantage rather than peril because only upon death ground are the ranks fully fortified in their determination.  Over the centuries, many generals have foolishly, and to their own demise, placed their opponent upon death ground

The polar opposite of death ground, by Sun Tzu's logic, is dispersive ground, or one's own territory.  Upon one's own territory, the forces are close to the comforts of home and easily distracted by their personal enthusiasms.  They are easily dispersed, both mentally and physically because they are at ease with the familiarity of the surroundings.  This is where the forces are ultimately the most vulnerable.  Politics is no different.  In On War, his addendum to Sun Tzu's philosophy, Prussian General Carl Von Clausewitz observed that "war is politics by other means," and it is from this parallel that I present the following observation.

After the conservative electorate took legislative control when they handed Congress to the Republicans in 1994 to break the single-party rule of Bill Clinton's election to the Presidency, the conservative ideology began to stagnate, and the promises of the Contract With America -- the prime motivation of grassroots conservatives -- quickly began to lose importance among Republicans, who were taking great delight in the comforts of their new prestige.  Once George W. Bush was in the White House, and a comfortable gridlock of ideology existed within the Supreme Court, all three branches of government fell under control Republican ideology, and the aggregate conservative movement grew dangerously complacent.  To Sun Tzu's line of thinking, conservatives were on dispersive ground.

Oh, there were sporadic voices from the ranks who shouted warnings regarding various erosions of American sovereignty such as illegal immigration, private property rights (Kelo), and fiscal responsibility, but a fat and happy Republican hegemony regarded these voices as "fringe elements," and sought to portray them as outcasts from the ideology.  The Republicans had become lax in a diluted ideology of being "on the fence" with "moderation" and espousing nonsensical terms such as "compassionate conservatism."

Then came the elections of 2006 and 2008, where the watered-down Republican movement chose to engage the liberal opposition with fence-sitting, go-with-the-flow ideologues.  Republicans became so comfortable on their dispersive ground that their half-hearted convictions found them engaging liberal opponents with liberal ideas wrapped in conservative labels.  In response, the conservative grassroots base made its presence known by the ear-splitting sound of its silence at the polls.  The Republican majority lost its momentum so quickly that even the last-ditch effort of bringing a dynamic Reaganesque conservative to the Vice Presidential candidacy so late in the game could not win back enough of the disgruntled base to stem the retreat from the platform.  The ultra-liberal opposition swept a decisive two-thirds control of government; and that last third, The Supreme Court, hangs in a precarious balance!

In enacting their focused agenda, the liberal majority that was granted power over Congress and the White House is now quite determined not to sit on their laurels as the Republicans did with the Contract with America.  The liberals have learned the lesson of the 1994 election, and before they are forced to face the electorate again in 2010, they have launched full-force the juggernaut that is their socialist platform without regard to the impotent pockets of Republican opposition within their ranks.  And rest assured; there will be no "compassionate liberalism" extended to their opponents.

In the face of such aggressive liberal grasps for American liberties, the majority conservative base is now starting to wake up and jump off the fence.  People who once rebuked the Minuteman protesters for going to the US/Mexican border to protest lax immigration enforcement in 2004 are now themselves going to town halls and organizing Tea Party protests of their own, and public opinion polls are now taking decided shifts into traditionally conservative directions.

In short, the American conservative base has been marshaled onto the political equivalent of Sun Tzu's death ground, and the ideological pawns are finding fewer paths of retreat from the advancing onslaught of the liberal agenda.  Let us hope that this death ground empowers conservatives from both political parties to once again become focused in their resolve not to be left out of the process.

As I write these words, we definitely find ourselves deep within the ranks of the liberal stronghold.  There is no compromise now.  The concept of common ground is a luxury we can no longer afford.  The die has been cast and the premise is being dictated to us now.  This is death ground that only the force of will can return us from.  It is time for the silent majority among us to stand and make their voices heard, because if we have learned nothing else from the past 15 years, it should be that silence is considered to be tacit approval by those in power, be they Democrat or Republican alike.