Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Revolutionary Tactics

It often seemed that Conservatives were doomed to suffer continue electoral defeats, having learned nothing from the army of their Idols, the Founding Fathers.  Strangely enough in fact, they seem to have been running the playbook of the Redcoats rather the the Rebels for some time now.

For those of you who have not read your Revolutionary War history (and certainly were not exposed to such nonsense in the government indoctrination camps that supposedly educated you), much of the limited success that the fledgling American Army had were the result of using the element of surprise and vastly different tactics than their opponents.  It's of no surprise that they had to do this, since British Army (along with their German mercenaries) were the most disciplined in the world, better financed, and proven in battle.  Their one and only weakness was that they were used to fighting stand up, line abreast battles with other armies on the open fields in Europe, a weakness that the rebels were often able to exploit.

Revolutionary troops had neither the numbers, the training, nor the discipline to fight the same way as their European counterparts.  What they did have though was a knowledge of terrain, a musket with both a longer barrel and a rifled bore, and a marked unwillingness (at least on the part of militia) to trade volley fire with their opponents.  They chose instead to learn from the tactics of their hunting and Indian fighting days, hiding behind any cover available, shooting their opponents leaders first, and seeking strategic retreat (running away) after doing as much damage as they reasonably could.  The few times that the Army managed to mount successful major assaults against the British were usually by sneaking up on their foes at an unexpected time or from an unexpected direction. The times they went toe-to-toe with the British troops, they lost.  These lessons have apparently been lost on today's Conservatives.

Certainly anyone looking at the tactics of today's political battles would agree that the Conservatives seem to be the ones marching ahead in straight lines, heedless of 'shot and shell' around them.  They seem far more willing to accept casualties in the name of 'good sportsmanship', they refuse to adapt their tactics to the opposition or the situation, and usually refuse to engage their opponents on an equal footing.  Often seeming to be more concerned with playing by rules than winning the battle, they blindly repeat prior tactical errors of repeated direct assault.  They blithely accept potential decimation of their ranks in the name of a fairness which disappeared with line abreast formations, and often at the cost of victory.

Their more liberal opponents, for all of their detestation of military matters, understand that history will be written by the victors. Having either failed to read or choosing to ignore the rules of 'civilized' battle presented to them by Conservatives, they snipe away at the right; regularly achieving both tactical and strategic success. Realizing likewise that the victors will dictate the terms of surrender, they seem to grasp firmly the concept that once the battle has been won, no one much cares whether the killing shots were fired from formed ranks or from the cover of a rock.  They understand that it's easier to pick off the key leaders of a group under directed and concentrated fire.  Once such leaders have been effectively neutralized, discipline of your opponents will quickly break down in the ranks and the rest can be easily taken.

Not being privy to the political stratagems of Conservatives at the highest levels, I can only hope that  they are learning with time; that perhaps they are simply following the strategy of the first (and only) Commander of the Continental Army and first Commander-in-Chief of the nation, George Washington.  Washington if you will remember, lost about 2/3 of the stand-up battles that he fought with his British counterparts; but learned from each of his defeats, always managing to withdraw in an orderly fashion and seeking to fight another day.  

Though saddled with a general staff made up of far too many 'privileged characters' whose positions were often no indication of ability, he was still able to maintain a solid fighting force by promoting those of ability regardless of previous rank.  Though starved by a Congress more intent on its own comfort than that of its Army, he somehow managed to rally his troops together in the harshest of conditions; maintaining their spirit to fight on.  Though plagued by 'friends' who turned their back on him to seek their own power and glory, or after insults real or imagined, he somehow managed to maintain discipline and fight on long enough to win the war.

Recent changes in the maneuvers exhibited by Conservatives lead to hope that these lessons are at last not lost on those who most need a new strategy.  Utilizing troops fresh from the growth of the Tea Party Movement, the increasing strength and influence of the Libertarian Party, and the wealth of new citizen-politicians seeking public office; they finally seem to understand that winning should at least be as important has how you do it.  We can only hope that much as the French helped seal the deal for Washington's rag-tag Revolutionary Army, these new allies will provide the additional impetus required for Conservatives to begin to recognize their heritage, and to properly utilize Revolutionary Tactics.


Roland Hansen said...

It seems to me that many people who identify with the Tea Party movement, especially those who also seek elective office, and other Conservatives appeal to other people's anxieties, fears, prejudices, hatreds, etc. They just seem so darn negative in their perspectives. I see very little in the form of positive and detailed proposals for the better; all I hear and read are "buzz" phrases and "sound bites" or at least that is how it seems to me.

Timothy W Higgins said...


I think it's safe to say that there are many from both sides of the aisle and from both major political parties that have little more to offer than "people's anxieties, fears, prejudices, hatreds, etc".

And while I will concede that there are some in the Tea Party movement that could take a more reasoned approach to the debate, they and Conservatives seem to be the only ones being demonized by the media and their opponents for a generally accepted strategy.

I believe that there are many positive messages coming out of that movement, but the only ones getting press are the bitter harangues. Anything substantive is either ignored or written off as nonsense without due consideration.

What caused me to write the piece was the particular ineffectiveness of Conservatives in defending themselves from attack and the particular effectiveness of those attacking them. The Revolutionary War comparison was one that simply popped into my normally empty head.