Political Strategery

  • by Gitabushi

I am a semi-skilled amateur in many, many fields.  One field that I feel like I can fumble my way to some useful insights is Games Theory.

My career has centered around analysis in general, and mainland China in specific.  One of the interesting aspects has been watching other analysts make assessments based on nations as if they were unchanging monoliths.  Perhaps that yields analytic results that are good enough. But to me, that always seemed inadequate.

Consider the US. Should other countries make their Geopolitical plans based on the US always being the World’s Policeman, committed to global trade and attempting to keep the peace worldwide while maintaining shipping lanes, eager to use military force to protect our National Interests?  Or put it another way: did the basic character of our actions on the world stage change from Bush to Obama, and will they change from Obama to Trump?  And even more subtly, did they change from SecState Clinton to SecState Kerry, and from SecState Powell to SecState Rice?  I think the answer to all these questions is “yes.”

I am convinced that the nature of the PRC-Taiwan conflict changed significantly when the leader of Taiwan changed from Lee Teng-hui to Chen Shui-bian.  President Chen was extremely good at giving Jiang Zemin (the leader of the PRC) no-win options.  If Jiang accepted what Chen did, Taiwan gained some measure of independence, but if he fought it, he made the PRC look like a bully and hardened the resolve of Taiwanese citizens to remain independent.  I can’t think of a good example at the moment.  Jiang Zemin knew how to exercise power, and he exercised it against Taiwan as much as he could, rattling sabers and making threats and blustering.

However, when Hu Jintao succeeded Jiang Zemin, that again changed the character.  Suddenly, the PRC was giving Taiwan no-win options.  The best example I can think of is when Taiwan was going through a minor recession.  Hu Jintao offered to let Taiwan fruit farmers sell their products to the Chinese mainland. That would immediately increase the demand for their goods without increasing the supply, which would help struggling farmers and perhaps even help them get rich quickly.  The problem for Chen Shui-bian was that Taiwan farmers almost exclusively supported his party.  If he allowed them to sell their fruit to the PRC, they would benefit from a stronger relationship with the PRC, which would likely soften their resolve to remain independent. But if he refused to let them sell their product, then he was harming their livelihood for politics, and perhaps for mere churlishness.

Prior to Hu Jintao, the PRC did everything they could to block Taiwan from participating in international organizations.  The PRC claimed that both the PRC and Taiwan were part of One China, and that China needed only one representative at the UN, the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, etc.  Taiwan could be represented by joining the PRC, or not be represented at all.  Under Hu, however, the PRC suddenly allowed Taiwan to participate as a region of the PRC.  That gave Chen an unhappy option: if they chose to gain a voice in international organizations, it was tantamount to accepting the PRC’s authority over Taiwan; if they rejected the opportunity, at least some of the international opinion would note that Taiwan cared more about political words than, say, the opportunity to participate in vital public health activities like preventing the spread of Avian Influenza.

And Hu Jintao continually forced Taiwan to make these choices. During his tenure, the PRC offered Taiwan the economic opportunities with mainland China they had been seeking for years…but with each economic deal, Taiwan tied its economy more closely to the PRC, meaning that the PRC could theoretically force re-unification by threatening to tank Taiwan’s economy at only an inconvenience to themselves.

So here’s the point:

The GOP, as a whole, seems to split our intellectual time and effort between trying to persuade people that conservative philosophy is correct and trying to enact conservative policy.  What I don’t think is happening enough, however, is trying to craft policy that puts Progressives into untenable positions.

Self-defense rights. Over-incarceration. Voting integrity. Right to Life. Lower taxes. Countering speech we don’t like with speech we do (trying to erase Political Correctness). I’ve seen it done in persuasion attempts, like pointing out that abortion is killing more black women than anything else. I’ve seen some steps toward the GOP fighting over-incarceration as a waste of money.

But why can’t we craft policy that puts the Democrats in the position of either admitting the GOP is helping blacks, or in preventing blacks from getting help?

Why can’t we craft policy that puts Democrats in the position of either allowing us to ensure the integrity of voting, or admitting they want illegal votes to cancel out the votes of citizens?

Is it just that the mainstream news media (the Democrat Operatives with Bylines) won’t allow the GOP to get that message out?  Is it also that too many in the GOP have no desire to defeat Progressive ideology (seeing themselves as the Washington Generals to the Progressive Political Harlem Globetrotters in order to push political policy they only pretend to oppose to get elected)?

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3 thoughts on “Political Strategery

  1. Good post.

    Part of the problem with the GOP is that it sucks at messaging (among other things). The media is against them, yes. They lack the zealous cheerleaders in Hollywood. But they don’t do themselves any favors. When the GOP shut down the government, the Dems flogged them with it nonstop. Now that the Dems are threatening it, the media fails to paint the same picture, true, but where are the outraged Republicans pointing out the gross hypocrisy?

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  2. Good point.

    Part of the problem with the GOP shutdown is half the GOP joined with the Democrats in blaming Cruz for it and dismissing it as grandstanding.

    I know “RINO” and “DINO” are bandied so often they’ve lost all meaning. But I really think the GOP has a problem with RINOs that Democrats don’t face, and it causes all sorts of problems in messaging and strategy: there are several GOP politicians that are reliable votes for Democrat goals and reliable soundbites for undermining GOP intent.

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    1. I think part of this is that the Blue Dog Dems were largely defeated. Especially now, it strikes me that there are more moderate Republicans than moderate Democrats. Despite the popular narrative of how radical the GOP is.

      Liked by 1 person

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