Knowing Your Enemy is a Crucial Aspect of a Winning Political Campaign

To win the 2012 presidential election, right-minded people need to understand this crucial fact: you must know your enemy.  Sun Tzu, a 6th century B.C. Chinese general, explained it this way in The Art of War

"It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."

A few days ago, I published an article in American Thinker titled "The Democratic Party Is Rotten Through and Through."  In it, I made this observation:

"The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be a battle between right and wrong instead of right and left.  Democratic Party stalwarts smell victory in the air, but it's not their victory that they smell."

A person who read the article sent me an email in which he said,

"Much as I love Rush, Hannity, Levin, et. al., I don't believe any of these fine Men of the Right has summed up the state of our nation more accurately or succinctly.  Your words hit me in the heart and the gut at the same time."

Rush, Hannity, Levin, and other conservative radio talk show hosts want the 2012 presidential election to focus on economic issues, or should I say that they hope it will focus on the economy.  Mitt Romney and other GOP leaders hope it will as well, because they know that if the economy prevails as the dominant issue in the campaign, Barack Obama loses.  Democrats know it, too, so it's not in their interest to allow the economy to capture and hold too much attention.

In my American Thinker article, I said that Democrats introduced Sandra Fluke and Hilary Rosen in an attempt to drive a wedge between the GOP and women.  I also said that they continue to do everything in their power to distance black voters from the GOP.  They are desperately searching for an issue or issues other than the economy that will resonate with voters in hopes of avoiding the inevitable if the economy reigns supreme, and they won't let up.  That's something that right-minded people need to understand.

You can rest assured that the economy and jobs will be important in the upcoming election, but will those issues trump all the others?  That's the $64,000 question, and the answer won't be determined by the GOP alone.  Democrats have a say, and they will probe the edge of the envelop until they find something, anything that they can use to hammer Romney and conservatives.  Will they succeed?  It depends on the willingness of right-minded people to work until the election is over.

In a former life, I was a Democrat, and I wasn't just a local volunteer.  During Virginia Governor Chuck Robb's (D) term in office, I was his policy advisor for regulatory reform.  When Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980, I was a congressional district chair of Young Virginians for Carter.  My counterpart in the Republican Party, George Allen, and I met frequently with civic groups and debated issues.  I liked George, and I respected his knowledge and enthusiasm.  George went on to become a member of Virginia's House of Delegates, a member of Congress, Governor of Virginia, and U.S. Senator.  He is currently trying to recapture the Senate seat that he lost to Democratic Senator Jim Webb in 2006.

My experience as a Democrat taught me several things, first among them that I am not a Democrat.  I can't be one because of what the Democratic Party stands for.  If there is a perverse dimension to an issue, Democrats will be on that side; if a giveaway program is under consideration, Democrats will be for it; as far as Democrats are concerned, increasing taxes is the only solution to our nation's debt and deficit problems; and Democrats inhabit a utopian world where tradeoffs don't have to be made between the environment and energy needs, for example.  In other words, they live in a dream world, and it's a nightmare.

I could not in good conscience endorse much less promote the Democratic Party or its candidates for public office.  When Governor Robb's term of office ended, I left the party, but I didn't throw in the towel.  I just started playing another role.  It's the role that I'm playing right now: educating people about the issues without regard for party affiliation in hopes that a majority of them will accept the facts and make wise choices.  Most of the time, the electorate will make the right choices if they understand the situation thoroughly. 

Ultimately, it will be Mitt Romney's job to make the case that has to be made, and it's our job to nudge him in the right direction and to get behind him to make sure that he wins in November.  But it won't be easy.  It certainly won't be as simple as pretending that the economy will dictate the outcome of the election.   

I'll give Democrats this much, though: they adhere to Winston Churchill's philosophy.  Churchill said, "Never, never, never, never give up."  Democrats don't quit, and that's an important reason why our nation is in such a mess.  A very large number of Democrats at every level are totally committed to the Democratic Party, and they devote the lion's share of their attention to advancing the party's agenda.  They may be school teachers, union workers, or social service workers, for example, but those are their day jobs.  They devote most of their creative energy to the party.  That's why they win elections and that's why our nation is drifting toward financial and moral oblivion.

I think the typical Republican believes that when the election is over, if their candidate wins, they have won the war.   After the 2010 election, I met with a group of Republicans to discuss climate change issues, and one of the leaders of the group told me that the 2010 election results meant that the country was on the right track.  I shook my head and said, "No, we're not on the right track.  The 2010 election is just the first step on a journey that will last for many years through several election cycles."


Truth is, the real war in politics is never over.  Democrats know that.  And as much as I would like to choose the issues, that's not my prerogative.  Democrats know that, too.  They will fight to the bitter end, and they will use any trick in the book.  If right-minded people hope to beat Obama, they must understand Democrats and be willing to work as hard as they do.  If they aren't willing to make that commitment, Obama will win.


Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog,, is posted daily.

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