This is an excerpt from the new book Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again
“Premise” is a word many Americans are not familiar with, and neither do they use it in their everyday speech. However, the premise is one of the most powerful weapons in political warfare. Master the art of the premise, and you will master your opponent.
A premise is the assumption of an argument that is meant to justify the conclusion the one making the argument is hoping you’ll come to. If one fails to establish the premise to his argument, one almost always fails to convince others of his conclusion. On the other hand, if one establishes a premise one will more than likely get others to agree with his conclusion.
For example, if the premise of the argument is over “reproductive choice” and not “the sanctity of human life,” then the conclusion will come down on the side of the premise accepted. For too long we have argued with the Left over the conclusion (e.g. big government vs. small government) when we should be arguing the premise (e.g. what’s legal for the government to do vs. what’s illegal for the government to do).
All too often we accept the premise of the Left’s argument on virtually every issue, which allows them to frame the political battlefield. Any good general will attempt to shape the battlefield in a manner that gives his soldiers the best chance at victory, and we should do the same in the culture war as well.
Could you imagine the possibilities if we made the Left defend the Constitutionality (see that as legality) of all their statist schemes, and if our Republican politicians asked questions that rejected their premise from the outset?
I get asked questions all the time from the Left’s perspective, and I never accept their premise. For example, in 2011 I did an interview on Dutch National Television. One of the questions was whether those who practice homosexuality should be allowed to serve openly in the military.
“I believe all men and women that are physically qualified and able to conform to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice ought to be able to serve their country,” I replied.
“But what about gays and lesbians,” the Dutch host asked.
“I’m sorry, maybe you didn’t hear me,” I replied. “I believe all men and women that are physically qualified and able to conform to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice ought to be able to serve their country.”