A good salesman, in the business of providing a complex product or service, will tell you that his first step in any deal is to see if there is a deal to be had. He will assess the potential customer to learn if there is a need and if the prospect knows there is a need for the product or service. Assessing needs and motivations is a big part of determining if the salesman should commit his time to the deal. Finally, he tries to assess the prospect’s willingness to actually commit to a potential deal.
The purpose of evaluating a prospect before engaging in the sales process is to avoid wasting time with tire kickers and people who simply lack the means to do a deal. The salesman is really selling time, when you analyze it. He has so many hours to work on and close deals. Every hour wasted on some guy, who has no money or is really not interested, is time that could be spent on a real opportunity. Talk to any good salesman and you learn that they are really good at managing their sales time.
Politics is a lot like sales. A candidate has so much time to ask voters for their support, so the campaign has to be as efficient as possible. In politics, the game is to motivate the natural supporters of the candidate and demoralize the supporters of the other candidate, in order to sway the stupid and uninformed. The stupid and uninformed, often called “swing voters” in America, will go where they think everyone else is going and they judge that on enthusiasm. They bet the strong horse in the race.
The way this has to work in a democracy is the successful candidate has to be seen by the opposition as someone with whom they can strike a deal. In other words, the supporters of the opponent have to look at the other side as people with whom some compromise can be reached. That’s why in America, the candidates are strident in their primary races, but become conciliatory in the general election. They want the other side to know they are going to sit down and strike a fair bargain.
Accepting the results of the election is a vital part of any popular form of rule. In fact, it is the most important element. If the losing side thinks the winning side will use its power to crush them, then they will revolt against the system that makes them vulnerable. That also means the winning side will be motivated to crush the losing side, because they will assume the losers not only will revolt, but try to crush them as soon as they win the next election. Politics becomes a blood sport.
This desire to make a deal is why Progressives have run wild in American politics, especially over the last few decades. Their opponents in every election are white civic nationalist types, who are always willing to accept the results of the election and work with the other side on a good deal. Progressives, in contrast, use this willingness to do a deal to ram their agenda through when they win. When they lose, they use the same intransigence to bottle up any effort of the winners to push through their agenda.
If you want to understand why Buckley conservatism is headed to the dustbin of history, this is the place to start. They were always so ready and eager to do a deal; they never could walk away from a bad deal. They would win an election and then cut a deal with the Left that was a complete sellout. The joke among dissidents in the Bush years was that the greatest thing that could happen to you is to find yourself across the table negotiating a deal with a Republican. It was like hitting the lottery.
Now, the reason the Left wins even when they lose is not because they are shrewd or even that the Right is dumb. It’s that they reject that central premise of popular government, where the losers accept the results of an election and the winners reach a fair bargain with the losers. For the Left, what is theirs they keep. What is yours they seek. This is the central cause of the ratchet effect in American politics. One side exploits the rules, while the other abides by the rules.
The question that has been on the minds of dissidents for a long time is when will people wake up to this reality? When will those civic nationalists and good government types realize that they can never bargain in good faith with the other side, because the other side never bargains in good faith? Unless and until the good citizen accepts the cynicism of the Left, not necessarily embrace it, but just accept it, elections will always be heads the Left wins, tails the Right loses.
Conventional critics of conservatism and the Republican Party work from the premise that a more jaded approach will work. Not only will it result in better bargaining, it will put the Left on notice that they will not get to play by their own rules. Put another way, if the Right gets as good at politics as the Left, then the system will work and elections will once again have meaning. There has always been a battered wife syndrome with conventional conservatives, who blame themselves for the failure of democracy.
This line of thinking always assumes that the non-Progressives, to use a better term, will continue to support the orderly democratic process, but be more aware of the way the Left does politics. You can have the civic nationalist dream of orderly democracy, but with a clear-eyed view of the Left. The results of an election, in terms of the resulting policy, will then reflect the voting. It’s the same system, except the Republicans are not treacherous sellouts and morons.
Putting aside the probability that this is an impossibility, that the “opposition” is really just a creation of the Left, why would anyone want this? This sort of politics, which is what Buckley conservatives now talk about in response to their decline, is like volunteering to live in a viper den. A deal where one side cannot be trusted to abide by the terms is not a deal at all. It is why contract law does not exist in low trust countries, like in the Arab world. Why make a deal that no one will respect?
In the context of American politics, what happens when most white people figure out that the other side will never cut a deal with them? There will always be suckers, who never give up hope, but what happens when the majority of whites realize they can never make a deal with their opponents? How long before this realization leads to the conclusion that they can never live in the same country as their opponents, because their opponents hate them and want them dead?
Most likely, the typical white person looks at the madness engulfing the political class and thinks the fever is bound to break soon. Maybe Trump winning in 2020 or the Democrats nominating a shrill crank like Warren will break the spell. Older folks talk about how the 1960’s eventually burned itself out. Lots of normal white people think something similar will happen this time. What if it doesn’t or what if whites simply get tired of waiting for their opponents to snap out of their rage?
The good salesman, who realizes the prospect is not an opportunity, finds an expeditious way to exit the process. He’s no longer willing to commit time to the deal, because there can never be a deal. There is no deal. This is where dissidents often insert their favorite collapse fantasy, mixed with their favorite revenge fantasy, but no one really knows how this would work. If a large portion of white people are no longer willing to play the Left’s game, will the Left just let them walk away?
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