In his new book, "Rules For Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again," nationally-syndicated radio host and Townhall columnist Steve Deace created a strategic manual to help conservatives reclaim the nation. Deace's book intends to equip conservatives with a playbook in the same way that Saul Alinsky's 1971 book "Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals" armed the Left.
I had the pleasure of hearing first-hand about Deace's new release.
Townhall: Your book, as David Limbaugh said in the forward, is a “blueprint for victory.” How did you go about creating this roadmap?
Deace: Living in the first of the nation caucus state of Iowa gives you a front row seat to the sausage making factory. I’ve had a chance to be behind the scene or even participate, you know, volunteer or work for campaigns from president to state legislature. Iowa provides a very unique cross-section of political activism in your own backyard, where you don’t have to go anywhere to be involved in either federal, state, or local politics.
This blueprint is essentially a compilation of everything I’ve seen work and not work. There’s nothing new under the sun, but what I really wanted to do was put it together in a package where it could actually be something that would be a coordinated plan of attack. Something that would work in accordance with our worldview and not the other sides’. Because obviously if you’re putting your playbook out there you don’t want people to steal it from you so you wanted to craft it in a way that even if they tried to utilize it it wouldn’t work because it really is only for those that have a belief system based in the principles of American exceptionalism. Then you have to put it together in a way that is applicable and manageable.
Several times throughout the book you talk about a need for “3-D Thinking.” Can you explain what you mean by this?
I think that if we don’t have three dimensional thinking, then I don’t think any plan of attack we have will work. It helps us to understand both our own belief system and then what we are up against.
The first dimension is to understand why you believe what you believe. If you’re a Christian this is a commandment in the New Testament. St. Peter says you have to have an ‘apologia,’ or an apologetic reason; a ready defense for the hope that you have in your faith. So I think we have to know why we believe what we believe. That lays the foundation so that we can actually communicate in a relevant way that connects with people and changes hearts and minds and not just become talking point regurgitators.
The second dimension is, you need to know why people believe what they believe. What is it that the other side of an argument or a conversation or a debate is coming to the table with? There is someone who might be in the middle and may be undecided. Why are they undecided? What is it that they believe that would cause them to then take the positions that they take? Again, this helps to establish a relationship which is really key in changing a lot of peoples’ minds.
And then the third dimension is to know why people believe what they believe about what we believe. What is it they think about what we think? What are the cliches, the stereotypes that they have in mind as they are engaging us? Where do they think we are coming from? So that we have an opportunity to go after, to tear down those strongholds and actually have a pertinent conversation where substance is being discussed and it’s not just ad hominem, or it’s not just a series of red herrings, or stereotypes, or demagoguery.
You discuss in the book why conservatives are losing, but can you flip that around and tell us why Democrats are winning?
Democrats are winning because the No. 1 thing they understand that we don’t, or that we don’t understand as shrewdly as they do, is that really it is not the base of an organization that determines how good it is. It is the head.
If you look at the trends, you would wonder: ‘why are we losing the country? Because in many areas it seems as if we’re winning.’ The movies that feature our values are dominating the box office, like "American Sniper." We’re selling more books than ever before, we have more conferences to equip and encourage each other than ever before. We have more infrastructure to mobilize our grassroots than ever before. Most of the most successful media in the country at least leans our way.
Right now we have the fewest Democrats nationwide in the legislative branch that we’ve had in 86 years. That’s before the Great Depression. It doesn’t make much sense that the government doesn’t seem to shrink. Wages remain stagnated and the culture continues to spiral towards Gomorrah despite those things. I believe it’s because what the Left has done is they have practiced the principle of headship. They have realized that if you control the power center of an organization, it doesn’t matter what the base thinks. So, for example, we outnumber them five years in a row now we have been the dominant ideological group in Gallup polling as self-identified Conservatives, that’s never happened before in the history of a Gallup poll.
But what’s happened is they control the influence centers in academia, pop-culture, government, and now increasingly corporate America as well. And so even though we outnumber them, they outflank and therefore outmaneuver us. Until we get better leaders who are willing to do what it takes to win. Willing to take the criticism for doing that, and then have the winsomeness to change the hearts and minds of our countrymen, nothing is going to change regardless of the outcomes of elections and how many successful cottage industries we spawn.
If you could pick just one issue for conservatives restrategize, what would it be?
It would be the judiciary. That is because that has been the weapon of mass destruction of the Left for a generation. Everything that they have done the most damage to American exceptionalism has come via the courts. Every last thing. From illegal immigration, those are court rulings saying that children born of illegal aliens here are now citizens, those are court interpretations. Or that taxpayers have to pay for illegal aliens, much of that is Plyler v. Doe, for example, a court opinion. If you look at the marriage issue it began with Lawrence v. Texas on state sodomy laws, which the Supreme Court used foreign court precedent as the rationale for that decision.
Obamacare is still only the law, because John Roberts, a Republican appointee, literally rewrote the bill to be a tax even though the Obama attorneys claimed in their testimony before the High Court that it wasn’t a tax. He rewrote the bill as a tax to make it legal under the 16th Amendment, setting the precedent that if the government calls it a tax they can do to you whatever they want. I mean that is the height of judicial activism.
And the most infamous of them all: Roe v. Wade. State sanctioned child killing--nationwide with basically no limits.
These are all things that would not have passed muster at a ballot box, but have all been imposed by unelected judges via fiat, with no basis or constitutional standing or grounding at all.
I don’t care how smart your arguments are, I don’t care how principled you are, how much money you raise. If continue to allow your opposition to, unabated, pound you with their most potent weapon of mass destruction, you are going to lose.
Your book is all about how conservatives to win again. What will it take for conservative candidate to win in 2016?
You have to look at really what is the genesis of today’s political environment. It really is 1980. That was the ushering in of the Reagan Revolution, that was the beginning of the South to trend more conservative and therefore more Republican. That really was the ushering in of the current political landscape. And the reality is, since the 2000 election, the electoral college is pretty static. The presidential election for Republicans comes down to Ohio, Virginia, and Florida, you have to win those three states. So you have to look at the trend line that began your current environment and that is 1980.
If you look at every presidential election since 1980 that Republicans have won, they all have two things in common: No. 1, the nominee rallied the masses of evangelicals in the base during the primary. And then No. 2, the nominee was at least able to compete if not win middle class voters in the general. So any Republican presidential nominee who cannot energize the masses of evangelicals in the base, and/or compete for or win middle class voters in the general, cannot win.
It’s not the marriage issue, or the life issue that is hurting Republicans. What is killing the Republican Party more than anything else is that people in the middle class see them as a bunch of corporatist shills who don’t care about their needs or their plight. And they reinforce that when they do things like, ‘well we’re not going to raise the minimum wage’ (which I agree with) ‘but we are going to vote for a bunch of corporate welfare.’ You can’t do stuff like that and then expect people to vote for you in general elections.