WEST: GOP needs strategy: Time to play chess not checkers

After last week's election results, some think the secret to GOP success is being more moderate, They're wrong. It's learning to play political chess. Photo: Checkmate (wikimedia)

Palm Beach Gardens, FL, November 11, 2013 — After last week’s elections in New York, New Jersey, and Virginia, the political pundit class had very unsurprising conclusions for the GOP. First, Governor Chris Christie will get the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. Second, the GOP needs to follow Christie’s model and become more moderate.

Therein lies the fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans play checkers, an impulsive, reactionary game while Democrats play chess. They develop a long strategic plan to be implemented incrementally, eventually attaining their objectives by any means necessary.

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Saul Alinsky, the Chicago native, admitted Marxist and author of the book, Rules for Radicals is a legendary figure in the playbook of leftist, progressive tactics. Alinsky identified a set of very specific rules that ordinary citizens could follow as a means of gaining public power through revolution.

However, Alinsky’s brand of revolution was not characterized by dramatic, sweeping, or overnight transformations of social institutions. Instead Alinsky advocated a gradual infiltration of existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties. Alinsky advised organizers and their disciples to quietly, subtly gain influence within the decision-making ranks of these institutions, and to slowly introduce changes from those platforms. 

To use a southern metaphor, this is just like boiling a frog. You don’t throw the frog into a pot of hot water. You have to put the frog into a pot of cold water and slowly turn up the temperature. It’s a long term strategy.

But the GOP defines strategy as telling everyone to be more like Governor Christie.

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To date, the GOP has failed to present a strategic plan, policy initiatives, and a marketing/communications program for implementation across the broad American electorate. Furthermore, the GOP is in dire need of charismatic messengers.

In their game of chess, progressives are adept at finding the wedge issues that put the GOP on defense. The one percent vs 99 percent, tax the rich, fairness and fair share, a war on women, hope and change are all examples of poll-tested slogans that were essentially empty rhetoric but greatly effective in branding the GOP.

Why was the GOP caught completely flat-footed? Here is the television commercial I would have produced for candidate Mitt Romney: stand in one of the rundown neighborhoods in Detroit and juxtapose that with how the neighborhood looked when his father was Governor of Michigan. Then ask a simple question, “What do you want for your children and grandchildren, opportunity and promise, or dependency and despair?”

The GOP needs a strategic platform that narrows the issues and relates them to every demographic. Fiscal responsibility, national security, and social issues are the three pillars of conservatism. It is imperative to develop policy solutions for each as they relate to the economy, energy independence and national security.

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Governor Christie was successful with the black community because he understood policy inclusiveness. He addressed the issue of school choice, a program President Obama cancelled in Washington DC. You don’t believe the GOP should talk about traditional families? Tell that to a black community which has been decimated and where only 28 percent of children have both a mother and a father in the home.

Instead of talking about government “job creation” talk about how you promote small business ownership and entrepreneurs, especially in the inner city.

Tell the American people that in January 2009 the average price of gasoline was $1.84, and today we are nearing 1200 days of gasoline prices over $3.00. Why is there no longer any mention of the Keystone XL pipeline?

If you want to speak to women, specifically mothers, ask them about filling up the gas tank to take the kids to ballgame practice. Describe what has happened to the prices of certain food commodities and how hard it is to afford a full grocery cart these days. Talk to mothers about military readiness and national security so they’re comfortable knowing their sons and daughters are prepared to go into harm’s way.

Progressive socialists always want to run towards social issues. Well, the GOP needs to develop a stance and stop having that “deer-in-the-headlights” look. Take back the language — women’s reproductive health should mean better care and research for ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers, not wanton killing of babies. As far as termination, why not support exceptions for rape, incest, and confirmed medical danger to the life of an expectant mother? That’s not a compromise, it is reasonable and rational.

My recommendation going forward? The GOP should hire some recently retired military officers who have graduated from the Staff and War College, or the School of Advanced Military Studies. These folks understand strategy and will succeed in the political game of chess. The Republican reactionary game of checkers won’t lead to victory, only more frustration.

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Allen B. West

Congressman Allen West served 22 years in the U.S. Army before being elected to the House of Representatives by the constituents of Florida's 22nd district. Throughout his time in Congress, West consistently stood for policies that would make the United States prosperous, strong and free, even when speaking up was not easy. He is a Fox News contributor, a regular contributor to PJ Media and a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.

LTC West also holds a Master of Military Arts and Sciences from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officer College in political theory and military operations.

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