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IT IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY THAT ACTUALLY RULES | 1998-12-26

Whitaker's Law on Real Electoral Power

If you want to see your politicians in good jobs, you win the elections.

If you want to determine your country's political future, you lose elections, but you do it in the right way.

In other words, political experts concentrate on winning the next election while patriots concentrate on moving the country in the right direction, regardless of what that means for the next election.

You can either hold onto political office at any cost or you can have real, long-term political power. If you want to move the country left, you lose elections by being just a little too far to the left. If you want to move the country to the right, you lose elections by being too far to the right. You keep ahead of the curve, and force politics in your direction.

The party in power is mainly interested in holding onto offices for its members. The party that holds the offices will do anything to keep those offices. That means it will adjust to the direction you set if you are willing to sacrifice this election for long-term power.

We have a perfect example in today's congress, where the Republicans won, and are now only interested in holding onto their offices. The Republican majority has abandoned all their principles so they won't rock the boat and lose their offices in congress.

If you let the other side keep the majority, and force them in your direction, you can rule the national direction.

To cite one of many examples

The British Labour Party ruled Britain for decades after World War II, but it hardly ever won an election. The Conservative Party held office, but it drifted further and further to the left, so that it could stay in office against Labour.

Of course, if you are the only real opposition party, you are going to win sometimes. The Labour Party won once in 1945. So in 1947 the Conservative Party totally changed its platform to adjust to the Labour position in all important aspects.

In its desperation to regain the power it had held so long, the Conservative Party in 1947 dumped every single major principle it had stood for. It agreed to end the British Empire, to adopt ruinous taxation and to perpetuate the welfare state.

Even when it did win, the Labour Party was not that popular. It was simply the only opposition, and it would not back down. So the Conservatives held the offices and the Labour Party's principles ruled Britain.

Sounds like the U.S. congress today, doesn't it? Republicans hold the offices, and Democrats set the direction.

The Labour Party ruled Britain by ignoring opinion polls. Just how popular Labour was when it won can be judged by the fact that they never won twice in a row.

But you don't have to win to rule. Quite the opposite. George Wallace's 1968 American Party run changed the American political landscape permanently. I supported Wallace, then spent many years building the coalition which elected Reagan in 1980. I can attest that the real movement toward that coalition began in 1968. By getting only 13.8% of the national vote once, Wallace demonstrated the enormous potential of the Wallace Democrats who later became the Reagan Democrats.

In 1992, Perot's 19% showing in the general election actually brought something unheard of for decades -- a balanced budget -- back into American governmental policy. You simply cannot find any WINNING election in recent American politics which compares in importance to Wallace's and Perot's defeated efforts.

A patriot should spend almost all his time studying the "losing" efforts of Wallace and Perot. The "experts" will spend all of their time reverently laying out the means by which ruthless psychos like Nixon and Clinton can get to be president.

And please remember, gentle reader, that it is ALWAYS these "experts" we call on to talk when our national political direction is being discussed.

In America, where would the conservative movement have been had the Republican Party not nominated Goldwater and been absolutely crushed in the 1964 election? In terms of setting our national direction, this "losing" 1964 Goldwater run was more important than any other presidential election in that generation.

Politicians judge elections entirely in terms of whether they win the immediate election or not. But in the long run, it makes almost no difference who wins a particular election.

For the people, losing it right is infinitely more important than winning. The problem is that professional political analysts are hired only by politicians. No one looks at elections from the point of view, not of who won, but of what happened to the nation.

The politicians hire the advisors. The fact is that experts only study how to win the next election, not how to influence long-term policy. So when the talking head "experts" show up on TV, all they talk about is who got 51% of the vote this time.

The faces in politics get all the publicity. So all we talk about is who wins, i.e., how the face we know got into office. But the point here is that that is of little or no importance to the fate of the next generation.