November 25, 2016

The GOP's Mao Strategy

Timothy Birdnow

The last few elections have seen the Republican Party ascendant across the country, and not just in Congress and the Presidency; they now control 68 of 98 state legislative chambers and they control the governorships and both houses of state legislatures in 23 states and possibly a 24th. They hold 31 governorships. If you subtract independent Bill Walker in Alaska the Dems only hold 18. The Democrats have a mere 7. Donald Trump won 3,084 of 3.141 counties in the United States.

In short, the Democrats have become nothing but a regional party. They own the west coast, New England and the other northeastern states (plus Virginia - barely - since it is close to D.C.) and have a corridore in the Rocky mountains. Oh, and thanks to their strangleehold on Chicago they control Illinois and Minnesota. But outside of those states they are not present, and in fact outside of the big cities that dominate those states they are nowhere to be found. The Democratic Party is entirely urban based.

This makes me think of an historical precedent. During the Second World War the Japanese invaded China and the Chinese government (under Chiang Kai Shek) retreated into the strongholds of the cities. Shek and his Nationalist party understood they couldn't hope to hold the countryside against the Japanese. So they abandoned it for the more secure cities.

This was a huge strategic blunder although at the time nobody realized it. Shek had the machine; a standing army, an organized government, control of the merchant class. He had too much invested in a formal infrastructure. While it served his purposes to avoid a head-to-head clash with the Japanese, it failed him utterly in the political realm.

Mao Tse-Tung and the Communists remained down on the farm.

The Communists fought the Japanese as partisans, and they did what they could to help the peasants who were suffering under Japanese domination. When the war ended and Japan withdrew the Communists were left in complete control of the countryside while the Nationalists were bottled up in the big cities. Mao had the unique position of controlling the food production, of controlling the water, of encircling his enemy, an enemy that had become complacent and lazy in the artificial worlds inside the big cities. The end result was that the Communists drove Kai-Shek and the Nationalists from the mainland and turned China into a Bolshevik state.

All because the Nationalists made their stand inside the cities and let the countryside be taken.

While the current political situation may not be absolutely analagous, I think there is enough similarity that we should take heart; the Democrats have surrendered the countryside, thinking rural folk are nothing but ignorant hicks, and they have continued to strengthen the cities, where they have these powerful political machines. But the concentrated nature of their power bases make it tricky, especially in America's electoral college system, and the increasing control of the countryside by the GOP - and at the state level - means Republicans will be able to work their will. It means redistricting will be done by the GOP and not the democrats, so their power can be watered down. It means increased funding for projects and programs to benefit the countryside and smaller communities at the expense of the cities - which means less money being laundered by the Democrats to win re-election. It means a general shift away from the traditional Dem power base. And they do not seem to have learned a thing from the last three elections.

They should have; take Huey Long, the near emperor of Louisiana and corrupt cornpone politician. Long attained that lofty heighth by going not to New Orleans or Baton Rouge but to the small towns and parishes in outstate Louisiana. He won the redneck hick vote first. While those rednecks may have been more diffused than the sophistocates in the cities they ultimately exercised more political power. They just needed a magnet to draw that power together, and Long was just such a magnet. At the time he was an aberration, because the big political machines in Chicago, in New York, in Cleveland and Detroit and St. Louis were the centers of power and generally the outstate folks had to bow and scrape to the big city machines. But Long showed it was possible to beat the big city machine, and he has perhaps given us a roadmap to how the GOP can ultimately vanquish the Progressives and Leftists of the Democratic Party.

Politics and war are different things, although they follow manyof the same rules. We now have them surrounded, and it is just starting to dawn on some of them. Many are still clueless, but in time they will have to learn from this. Certainly 8 years from now the Democrats will start an outreach to the countryside and walk back some of the things they have been doing to court the city votes. Certainly the really crazy stuff like transgenderism does not sit well with the common folks, and less pandering to the lgbtq community will be seen. They pretty much have everything they wanted anyway, so why keep up the pretense? I expect to hear more about farm subsidies, about taxing foreign agricultural or mineralogical products, about price supports, in the future.

It may work, too, but it may be too late. At least we must hope so.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 10:54 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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