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Feder's Rules For Conservatives (Part I)
GrassTopsUSA Exclusive Commentary
By Don Feder

         Some on the right are now recommending Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” as a handbook for us. The recommendation usually begins with, “I know Alinsky was thoroughly evil… but there’s a lot we can learn from him.”

         Obama is reelected with 9 million fewer votes than in 2008, against a pathetically weak opponent (whose most memorable line from the debates was “I agree with the president on that”), and suddenly the Marxist Machiavelli is the political equivalent of Sun Tzu. Here’s a guide for conservative victories based on conservative values:


1.   Understand that the left intends to destroy you. Your opponent isn’t a nice guy or a misguided idealist. He’s a dogmatist cut from the same cloth as Robespierre and Lenin — a storm trooper waiting to be fitted with jack boots and issued a truncheon. Look at the way the left runs academia, where it’s achieved near total dominance: brainwashing, rigid censorship and draconian punishment for thought crimes. This is what it’s planning for the rest of America. It lies, loots and manipulates. It is driven by envy, bitterness, disdain and a relentless power-lust. It ruins careers to make a political point. It would suppress conservative talk radio and send men to prison for the exercise of First Amendment freedom. Last April, when I heard Romney say, “The president is a nice guy, but we can’t afford him for four more years,” My first thought was, “Mitt’s a nice guy, but how in the hell did we end up with him as the alternative to Obama?” We consistently underestimate the opposition by assuming it’s well-intentioned and plays by the same rules we do. It isn’t and it doesn’t.

2.   A slogan isn’t an argument. Many in the mushy middle have never heard a convincing rationale for conservative positions. Fact-based arguments are more persuasive, but much harder to make, than simply stating a moral position. Slogans only persuade those already convinced. Don’t let justified outrage reduce you to sputtering incoherence. Keep calm. Make your case clearly, concisely and logically, bolstered by factual analysis. Along with morality, logic is the right’s most potent weapon.

3.   All issues are connected. Abortion isn’t just a social issue or even a moral question. It undercuts the family, which devastates the economy. It also eliminates future workers and consumers, reducing growth. Men fight and die for their families, not something called society. Thus, stable families are the linchpin of national security as well as the economy. America’s industrial engine helped win World War II. A weak economy leaves us vulnerable militarily and burdens families. Those who call themselves economic conservatives — or values voters or Neo-Cons — miss the big picture.

4.   Never leave a man behind. Don’t let the media define acceptability. Republican treatment of Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock was worse than shameful. The Republican establishment did its best to destroy him, after Akin made a stupid (because it was easily misunderstood) comment about aborting a child conceived by rape. Despite an earnest apology, the RNC cut off all financial support. Consultants who worked with him were subjected to thuggish intimidation His betrayal was a sacrificial offering on the altar of the women’s vote. Compare this to the Democrats’ solidarity with then-Representative Alan Grayson (a man who would make a rabid pig seem gentle), who, in the course of the Obamacare debate, charged, “If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly.” While he lost his reelection bid, the DNC stuck with Grayson. Now, he’s Congressman-elect Grayson. Democrats are political street-fighters. Republicans are the guys who bring a rubber knife to a gunfight.

5.   Don’t let the Republican establishment pick our candidates. Every time that’s happened, without exception, we go down to ignominious defeat — Ford in 1976, G.W. Bush in 1992, Dole in 1996, McCain in 2008 and Mitt the Meek in 2012. Avoid Republicans who’ve made a reputation for reaching across the aisle. They are adept at negotiated surrender. Voters hunger not for bi-partisanship but moral clarity. Unite early behind the best authentic conservative candidate. Don’t wait for another Regan, while the establishment slips in another Romney.

6.  Every conservative should have a RINO hunting license. Going back to the 1964 Goldwater campaign, RINOs have rarely missed a chance to stab conservative candidates in the back and work behind the scenes to undercut our influence in the Republican Party. In the primaries, Romney spent a fortune to destroy Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, only to win a nomination he proceeded to throw away in the general election. (RINOs always focus their fury on conservative opponents.) Better a Democrat in office than a RINO. Adding to their numbers increases the pressure to make the GOP the party of moderate socialism, moderate surrender and moderate degeneracy.

7.   Defund the left. The left is fed by tubes connected to the Treasury. A conservative priority should be to end subsidies for Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (put Big Bird in the pot), AARP and other leftist fronts masquerading as public interest groups. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion-provider, got $363 million from taxpayers in 2009. Technically, those funds are not to be spent on political campaigns or lobbying But funding is fungible. Compelling the middle class to finance its own destruction may be the left's most devious con.

8.   Negative campaigning works. The whining about negative campaigning is a losers’ lament and a way to handicap conservatives. The left ran a vicious, personal campaign against Romney before he even secured the nomination — Romney the corporate raider/job-destroyer. Romney the outsourcer. Romney the tax-cheat. Romney the heartless SOB who took health insurance from cancer patients. (Mitt responded with Obama’s-a-swell-guy-who’s-out-of-his-league). The governor never recovered from the Democrats’ caricature of him as a venture-capitalist Marie Antoinette. These smears were met by media silence. (The same media cried foul when the right brought up Obama’s radical associations in 2008.) The 2012 wipeout illustrates the effectiveness of negative campaigning. Anger and fear trump hope and kumbaya every time.

9.   Don’t engage in racial/ethnic/gender appeals. At the 2012 GOP Nominating Convention, speakers fell all over themselves expressing their gratitude for the women in their lives (mothers/wives/daughters/female colleagues/cleaning ladies) to convince single women that Republicans weren’t misogynists who wanted to snatch their contraceptives. (Obama still got the votes of two-thirds of a constituency whose political compass lies between their legs.) When it comes to racial minorities, we can’t compete with the left in a bidding war for their affection. To do so is a tacit admission that the electorate consists of voting blocs of hyphenated Americans. Our appeal should be to Americans as Americans, based on the national interest. Instead of courting Latinos by going soft on illegal immigration, we should explain that we’re all in the same boat, and that amnesties hurt them as much as the rest of us, maybe more. Appeals should be framed on common ground (faith, family and freedom), not on compromising conservative values.

10.   The conservative movement is faith-based. America was founded by Christians on Judeo-Christian values. (As John Adams observed, “Our Constitution was established only for a moral and a religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”) In certain circles, the left has managed to equate religion with backwardness and an anti-science mentality. In reality, God-based morality is the most progressive force in history. The Ten Commandments preceded supply-side economics. The Bible is as much America’s founding document as the Declaration of Independence. If we fail to defend Christians and Jews under fire for their beliefs, and to make faith central to our program, we betray the essence of conservatism.

11.   Don’t be intimidated by charges of racism, sexism and xenophobia, which the establishment uses to silence dissent. Answer accusations with demands for explanations. How does holding minorities to the same standards as whites constitute racism? How is a recognition of reality (men and women are different, psychology as well as biologically) sexist? Why should racial hustlers or embittered militants be allowed to establish the parameters of legitimate debate?

12.   You can’t beat something with nothing. In the 2012 presidential election, it was the messenger — not the conservative message — which was flawed. Romney had changed his mind on so many issues that he resembled a man stuck in a revolving door. Other than economic growth through lower taxes, it was impossible to state with certainty that the Republican nominee believed in much of anything. (Obama believes in all of the wrong things, but does so with conviction.) With Romney, voters had the impression of man who smiled nicely and spoke reassuringly, but was grounded in Jello. One of his consultants described him as Etch-A-Sketch. By failing to motivate Republicans, Romney came up 2.5 million votes short of McCain’ 2008 total. Image without substance is a prescription for failure.

13.   Playing it safe is the surest way to lose. This year, the engineers of the Romney debacle determined that the road to victory was paved with economic charts. How could the country possibly reelect a president who had presided over 7.8% unemployment for most of his term, who increased the national debt by more than a third and during whose watch the price of gas doubled? Romney and his handlers fled in terror from controversy. The candidate couldn’t even muster the courage to attack his opponent on an unmitigated foreign policy disaster — the easily preventable deaths of four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, in Benghazi. A one-size-fits-all message doesn’t work. In 1980, Reagan confronted what was then the worst economy in the post-war era. But he didn’t neglect Carter’s foreign-policy blunders (which advanced Soviet communism) at the risk of being called a warmonger. He also talked about the nation’s moral decline and embraced the religious right, another risky move. History has proven the wisdom the Gipper’s strategy.

14.   Talk of third parties is a waste of breath. There’s a reason the number of successful third parties in American history can be counted on one hand — success here defined as becoming a major party. In the middle of the 19th.century, Republicans had the ultimate wedge issue, one that galvanized the nation. The Democrats embraced slavery while the Whigs refused to confront it. Conservatives don’t have a comparable cause today. (Most Americans don’t view abortion that way, including many who are morally opposed.) From ballot-access to campaign-finance laws, the cards are stacked against third-parties. With a fraction of the effort needed to launch a successful third party (assuming that was even possible), conservatives can take over and purify the GOP.

15.   Beware of conservatives defeatists. There are pundits on the right who assure us that we’ve lost the life issue, lost marriage, lost the fight to secure our borders, lost on the Bush-era tax rates, etc. After the 1857 Dred Scott decision, there were those prepared to declare abolitionism dead. In 1948, when five Arab armies invaded Israel, Zionism seemed a lost cause. After the 1964 campaign, commentators were ready to write conservatism’s obituary. Sixteen years later, the most conservative candidate in the 20th century was elected president. There are no lost causes, only lost hope, lost convictions and a failure of will. Every cause conceded sets us up for the next retreat.

  Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website,