The quote, which comes from Napoleon, translates as “audacity, audacity, always audacity,” and was Bonaparte’s philosophy of how one should approach a military campaign. Be daring, be bold and take the battle to the enemy! Put the other guy on the defensive by courageously taking the initiative.
This was good advice for military commanders. It is good advice for political leaders. If you want to be successful when competing with others, don’t worry so much about what they will do; give them reason to worry about what you will do.
Another way to put this is: be active, rather than reactive. Don’t be afraid to make the first move and don’t only try to ward off the blows of your adversary. Get in a few good licks of your own, even when the other guy is busy attacking you. Turn the tide and get him on the defensive.
This strategy worked pretty well for Napoleon. Yes, he overextended himself in the Russian campaign and lost at Waterloo, but even in this last encounter he did fairly well considering he had only 100 days to prepare for it.
Aggressiveness and audacity are valuable weapons that frequently separate winners from losers. Even Barack Obama understands this. Didn’t he title a book “The Audacity of Hope”?
So why aren’t Republicans being audacious? Indeed, why do conservatives, in general, seem to enter frays tepidly and perhaps timidly? Too often they appear more concerned with playing the part of a “gentleman,” rather than a combatant.
Yet make no mistake about it, conservatism is in mortal combat with radical liberalism. Furthermore, it must win if it is to save our nation from a new dark age. This may sound extreme, but the poverty, weakness and lack of liberty sure to flow from an unchecked liberal agenda would be devastating.
So I say it is time to attack. To attack, and attack and attack some more! No doubt a degree of circumspection is required. Assailing an enemy without first reconnoitering the situation or devising a suitable plan of action is not wise. But neither is imitating Gen. George McClellan and cowering in a corner because one overestimates the enemy.
Radical liberals are vulnerable. Among other things they are liars. Thus, Obama says he will balance the budget; he will not. He claims that Obamacare will reduce costs and improve services; it will not. He tells us he has an “all of the above” strategy for energy; he does not.
So why not go on the offensive? Why not, for instance, accuse Obama of being a political juggler? He has, after all, been keeping so many lies flying through the air that he deserves scorn for this performance. Or why not compare him to a seal balancing a stack of platitudes on the tip of a teleprompter?
Then if he and his allies come roaring back by charging that Republicans are merely obstructionists — that all they do is say “No” — bear this label proudly. Insist that saying no to perilous programs is equivalent to putting one’s finger in the dike; that it amounts saving the nation from a flood of foolish and arrogant initiatives.
The key to winning a bare-knuckle brawl is not to go wobbly in the knees when the other guy gets in a few good thumps. Victory goes to the daring. It goes to those who stand their ground and look for an opening that is even more devastating. Conservatives don’t need more apologies or weak declarations of good intentions. They need muscle.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.