My recent reading has been an education in the political tactics needed to win. I am almost done with Robert Caro's books on LBJ, a man who won by pushing, needling, and taking every advantage he could. I am currently reading Joe McGinniss' The Selling of the President 1968 about the media campaign behind Richard Nixon's election victory, as well as Marjorie Spruill's Divided We Stand, about the unsuccessful campaign to pass the ERA.
One theme has emerged from all of this reading: to win at politics you must devoted to winning above all. This is a lesson liberals, who have turned their brains into mush by watching The West Wing, seem to have a hard time understanding. Johnson knew this, and so did Nixon. Nixon's ads in 1968, midwifed by the infamous Roger Ailes, appealed viscerally to fear and hate. They were unlike anything before in their vitriol, and the other side's answers were weak.
In regards to the ERA, the pro side was divided into factions, while the the anti side was united behind Phyllis Schlafly. Her movement incorporated grassroots supporters but was directed from the top, much like the later (and related) Tea Party movement. When there were conventions in the states to elect delegates to the National Women's Conference sponsored by the government, Schlafly and her allies packed them with Bible thumpers from local churches. In many places Birchers got elected into an institution intended to advance the cause of women's rights. (In Mississippi, the Klan did so.)
Today's liberals, so wedded to notions of comity and fair play, are ignoring the fact that they are up against an enemy that is absolutely ruthless in its methods. McConnell scuttled a statement about Russian interference in the election and prevented Obama from nominating a successor to Scalia. His punishment? Getting to be the master of the Senate. Republican Senators used the "blue slip" to stop Obama's nomination, and have now refused to respect the rule when it comes to Trump's nominees.
They think they are playing a game against people who have accepted the same rules, when the only rule Republicans have is to do whatever it takes. I do not like fighting dirty, but when the person fighting you fights dirty, it's time to get down into the mud. If you can't do that it's time to get out of the damn way.
The film clip I attached above is from The Life and Times Of Colonel Blimp, an amazing British film made in 1943, during the heat of World War II. Clive Candy is a devoted British officer, but is friends with Theo, a German officer he dueled before World War I. Theo fled to Britain, disgusted by the Nazis. Candy thinks World War II can still be fought with gentlemanly notions of "fair play." Theo, having lived in Nazi Germany and seen what it was capable of, tells Candy that he must be willing to fight a nastier war if he wants to win. "The enemy is different, you must be different too" Theo counsels. A lot of liberal Candys need to hear this message from us Theos.