Wily winning: A manual of mutating political philosophy – November 3, 2008
By Joseph Randolph
Yes, your opponent is tempting you to come out in the open to take the slugs that he is firing at you. There is of course no absolutely correct answer that will address every occasion like this, so I will offer a general plan based on different contingencies.
If your opponent is simply offering more and more criticism of you, of uneven value, or shouting his criticisms to the rooftops with a shrill and shrieking tone of voice, that in general is an indication of his desperation. That is, if the loudness or absurdity of his attacks significantly increases, he is simply throwing louder and more bullets with the nervous hope that one will miraculously find you. An attack that takes this form you can generally ignore. You will also find that the voters in general will ignore barrage attacks like this, and the longer your opponent continues this sort of unfocused and relentless attack, the more the voters will grow impatient with him to the point of making it virtually impossible that he could be elected at all. This posture on his part, and voter response to it, will generally be sufficient to diminish his following and bolster the size of your voting bloc. Therefore you simply need do nothing but let him grow hoarse and exhausted from his increased bellowing at you.While he continues to shout and harangue you, you can peacefully compose your victory speech. Meanwhile, the number of previously undecided voters for you escalates.
The other possibility is that one of his bullets is perceived by a significant number of your potential voters to have hit its mark. This situation is of course serious, because now one must think out very carefully a calculated response to an attack that appears to have some credibility—at least to your potential voters. Remember what I wrote to you some time ago; it matters more who people think you are, rather than what you are. Perceptions therefore are more important than realities on this point.
Our national candidate has run into this situation of late in his own campaign. For him the issue occurred perhaps most pointedly when a testy reporter quoted a text from Father Marx and asked how our candidate differed. I fear our candidate and his cohorts floundered a bit in their contention that the question was poisoned and therefore not worthy of an answer. To some voters of course, the implication of refusing to answer a question is that the question may be too close for comfort. This is indeed a dangerous situation, so to avert that implication of guilt the question should have been answered. Because it still to date has not been answered by that campaign, there is considerable fidgeting and uncertainty seeping through our national campaign—in fact the question is now finding numerous other forms and venues from our opponents.A bullet that has hit its mark cannot be ignored; it will fester the flesh if left unattended.
Our candidate, for the sheer sake of a viable campaign for office, should have put as much distance as he could between himself and our Father Marx in a country that historically has put to trial and publicly humiliated His American disciples. In fact, and to avoid anything like that, it is not out of the question that our candidate could have conceivably claimed to be completely ignorant of the name of Marx or any of His writings, and then turned to say that his expertise was in the Constitution of our own country, and not in the dusty works of some German vagabond. In this way, he turns the possible criticism of himself back onto safer ground and intimates that his study and knowledge has been of things American, not political philosophies more akin to a river of blood.
Such an answer would have proved entirely satisfactory to the vast majority of voters and would have laid to rest at least for the time the import of the original question. However, an answer appropriate for one time and occasion may be entirely inappropriate for a different one. This is certainly the case here. By this I simply mean that the aforementioned response is conceived to throw off the hunting dogs; when our candidate is put in charge of the dogs he can give an entirely different kind of answer—and one that is more pleasing to our Father.
This means that when we are firmly in command of the offices we aspire to now—but will occupy later—and when this question comes up again, as it will, we can simply ask what is wrong with the precept of our Father that from each according to his ability and to each according to his need should be our societal goal? So at that time, instead of disowning the precept, as formerly we would need to do, we can now defend it. By then we will have moved from defense to offense. And from campaign to office.
As momentous as a political revolution like this may seem in a country like ours—which has lived to this point in a livid horror of all things named socialist—we will have to remind ourselves that we brought it about by a bloodless event at the ballot box. Too, no voters were forced to vote for our candidates; rather, the voters did vote for us because we have prepared them over the past decades to accept of their own free will our tempting platter of government for the people by the socialists. It was a mistake of some of our predecessors to think that our politics could only be advanced by the sword. They never dreamed that advancement could come quicker and certainly with more staying power in cultures taught to loathe the sword and violence.
Joseph Randolph is a writer and academic who lives in Wisconsin.