Deace’s Ten Commandments of Political Warfare
by Jen Green
In 2010, Steve was unofficially consulting a grassroots candidate in Iowa who was running for elected office. This candidate received little to no help from the establishment.
It was during one of these “consulting sessions” that Steve sat down and wrote what we now know as “Deace’s 10 Commandments of Political Warfare.” By utilizing these principles, and with the help of his family and a few loyal friends, this candidate ended up unseating a popular Democrat and now represents the people of Iowa with the utmost of integrity in his office.
These helpful rhetorical and practical tips can be used not only by political candidates, but by us, the everyday grassroots activists, looking to change the debate within our spheres of influence. Whether it’s your daily water cooler/break room talk, social media debates, holiday “discussions” with your extended family, or something more heady such as biblical evangelism or apologetics, these principles will help you win arguments. (And that’s what it’s all about, right?) Ok, it’ll help you push an agenda of truth, something so needed and necessary in our culture today (assuming, of course, you’re one of the good guys).
1.) Never attack what you are not willing to kill.
When Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann first began her now-ended presidential campaign, she sounded like a conservative firebrand. Many credit that approach for her historic win in the Iowa straw poll. Then, unfortunately, she started listening to the wrong consultants who told her to tone down her message. Instead of attacking her opponents on their records head on, she said things like, “someone in this race once supported gay marriage in this state” or “several of my opponents supported the TARP,” never saying their names, never closing the deal by declaring herself the conservative stalwart. Eventually, she moved past this stage to the “Newt Romney” stage, but it was too little too late. You can’t poke your opponent with a stick–you gotta go for the kill (metaphorically) so they can’t return to hit you even harder.
2.) Never accept the premise of your opponent’s argument.
Remember “good” Newt in the South Carolina debate that carried him to a double-digit victory in that state? His exchange with Juan Williams was the perfect example of this commandment. Game, set, match.
3.) Reverse the premise of your opponent’s argument and use it against him.
Recently, Steve was interviewed by Dutch national tv. The reporter definitely had an agenda coming into the interview. Recognizing that, Steve used his third commandment to take control of the questioning and use it to promote his own agenda.
4.) Never surrender the moral high ground.
One of the reasons we at the Steve Deace Show believe and promote personhood legislation is because it promotes the absolute moral highground that life is from conception, is given by God and can only be taken by God. It’s a God-thing, not a man-thing. Most abortion regulation legislation acquiesces to the premise that it’s okay for man to take some lives but not all of them or the legislation simply ends with the theoretical “then you can kill the baby.” By surrendering the moral highground, you move the ball down the field for the other team instead of your own.
5.) Never, never, ever abandon your base . . . (unless they are morally compromised in their position) . . . but never in any other case.
Rick Santorum is still paying the price for abandoning his social conservative base and endorsing RINO pro-aborts Arlen Specter and Christine Todd Whitman. The immediate consequence was an 18 point defeat in his Pennsylvania senate race, even though he was the incumbent. His base simply chose not to support him. He has faced the questions and consequences of this action throughout his presidential campaign.
6.) Make your opponent defend their record and/or belief system.
I’ll use Rick Santorum again, but this is a positive example. For some inexplicable reason, Santorum has been the only candidate to regularly attack Mitt Romney during the presidential debates. His debate in Florida when he backed Romney against the wall on the truth about RomneyCare still gives me goosebumps. And, it’s a perfect example of this commandment–make your opponent defend his (liberal) record or (liberal) worldview instead of letting him put you on the defensive.
7.) Define your opponent before they define themselves.
One thing the Obama administration has done right (I know, it pains me to even write it) is to go on the offensive against Mitt Romney already. There are several reasons for this, I would surmise. Number one: if he is the eventual nominee, he has the most money to actually combat Obama’s war chest. Number two: by starting now, they can define Romney as a flip-flopping, really rich white guy who is out of touch with the common man before the first day of the general election campaign even starts. It’s just good strategy.
8.) Define yourself before your opponent defines you.
Rick Perry should have come off the blocks, guns blazing, touting his re-election numbers, his Texas balanced budgets, and his job creation numbers. Instead, he limped in on the vapors of the Guardasil debacle, did-he-or-didn’t-he support the TARP, and Texas’s version of the Dream Act. Because he didn’t define himself first–and let the others begin his narrative–he was never able to recover from his poor debate performances.
Remember Barack Obama in 2007-8? He was able to define himself first as the “hope and change” agent before the Jeremiah Write and Bill Ayers scandals broke. It worked.
9.) Respond to attacks in kind.
Unless it’s a ridiculous frivolous charge that needs no response, never raise an opponent’s attack to a level is does not deserve. If he attacks you in an anonymous post in a blog’s comments section, don’t run a radio ad defending yourself–you’ve just given his attack far too much exposure. In other words, don’t kick it up a notch and give it any undue attention.
10.) Play Offense.
As Steve quoted Charles Barkley on last night’s show: “I ain’t in this league to play defense.” Political candidates waste far too much time playing defense. By employing commandments 1-9, you should be able to tailor your political offense to suit the campaign. For a good example, think “good” Newt Gingrich in both South Carolina debates and throughout that state’s campaign. For a bad example, think Newt Gingrich in both Iowa and Florida. No candidate (or arguer) is at their best on the defensive–offense is where you score the most points.