The Tea Party at Valley Forge
The patriot movement had its Concord Bridge moment in 2010, and now it is facing its winter at Valley Forge. Both liberal and mainstream politicians are waiting to see what the patriot movement does during the harsh winter of a second Obama term.
Conservative opinion sites are buzzing with ideas about what to do now. One school of thought holds that the damage done to America in a second Obama term will be irreparable, and that the only sensible strategy is to let the system collapse under the weight of Obama's policies, and then to rebuild afterwards. Another theme seems to be that patriots should endure, double down on our efforts, and fight on.
The first strategy hopes that a new birth of freedom will rise phoenix-like from the ashes of Obama's policies. Ironically, that thinking can be seen as a conservative variation of the Cloward-Piven strategy that advocated the deliberate overloading of the welfare system. Out of the collapse of that system would emerge a popular demand for a guaranteed national income and fulfillment of other leftist goals.
The conservative strategy does not try to overload the system, but simply acknowledges that Obama has both the power and the plan to overload and collapse it. Liberal theorists and conservatives agree that Obama's policies will bring our current system down; the big difference is in what we hope to see emerging from the ashes.
The phoenix strategy assumes that the dry rot of liberalism will so weaken the country after four more years that recovery will be impossible. Government control of healthcare is now firmly established, and not much stands between the radical left and control of every other aspect of our lives. The most radical regime in American history is about to make several Supreme Court appointments that will wield unchecked power for decades to come. The vote-buying spree will continue, the shrinking productive class will be taxed even more, and the national debt will go from dangerous to catastrophic. The far left controls our schools and most of the news media, so resistance to the regime's agenda by elected patriots will be played as obstructionism and backwardness. Under that pressure, many will pull a Chris Christie and cozy up to the left for political cover.
The prescription for national collapse has been written, and the phoenix strategy suggests that we just wait for it to be filled.
The advantage of fighting to the end, on the other hand, is that patriots can always fall back on the phoenix strategy if we fail. Even if conservatives accomplish nothing more than slowing America's decline, which is all we have really done for decades, our ideas and values will still be preserved by the conservative remnant when the reset happens.
For those patriots who choose to stay in the movement, however, we need a new strategy, and that begins with thinking differently about politics. We have to think long-term, and we have to get off defense and start playing offense.
First, the patriot movement needs to learn from success of the left's "long march" strategy and develop a long-term mindset. In retrospect, the tea party's landslide victory in 2010 came easily, and it probably gave the movement unrealistic expectations about 2012. The patriot movement had barely begun to organize in 2010, and yet it routed the radicals of the Obama regime as handily as that earlier generation of patriots had routed the British at Concord Bridge.
In the closing pages of Waking the Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals at Their Own Game, we warned our fellow patriots that "along the road from the victory at Concord Bridge to the victory at Yorktown lay that winter at Valley Forge." Just as King George III would not give up control over his subjects easily, those who would rule over us today will not easily give up the benefits of power and privilege. Years of liberal rule have made America an economically and spiritually sick country, and the path back to health will not be easy or quick. Our time in Valley Forge does not mean that we are defeated, only that recovery will not happen in one generation.
There is an old military adage for leaders in dire circumstances that you have to take the situation as you find it and turn it to your advantage, and that is the challenge for the patriot movement now. Our situation is dire, so we should go on the offensive. We have to stall the left's advance in 2014 by keeping the House and taking the Senate, and then blocking the most radical court appointees. Find our candidate for 2016 now, and start preparing for the ground game on Election Day.
The left is hoping that the tea party movement is dead. Now is the time to organize, to train, to demonstrate, and to educate a nation in distress. We have to learn how to make the left debate on our terms instead of constantly letting the left define who we are.
If we lose, there is still the phoenix strategy.
Dr. Tim Daughtry is co-author of Waking the Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals at Their Own Game.