This piece was originally written four years ago. I reprise it here as a point of context.
How to Build a Permanent Majority
The premise of the title line is, of course false; at least so far. That falsehood has, however, never stopped partisan political forces from attempting to achieve a permanent majority. It looked like we could have evolved to single party rule during and in the days following FDR, to be supplanted by Eisenhower. Lyndon Johnson at the helm was looking good for a little while. Nixon and Reagan achieved massive electoral victories that were eventually squandered.
Neither party has been able to get it “right enough” for “long enough” to achieve the political nirvana of a permanent majority. Both parties tend to overreach and overstep. Both parties have not achieved the understanding that when an electorate bestows the mantle of leadership it is not a mandate, it is stewardship. Voters tend to make the pendulum swing but……………..
If you were going to try to create a permanent majority in the present context, what would it look like?
1. Control the Federal Bureaucracy. There can be little doubt that this particular dynamic is and has been well in place for a very long time. The bureaucracy is currently and significantly tilted in one political direction. This orientation exists throughout the bureaucracy from the State Department to Defense to the Intelligence structure. Put a check mark down next to this one.
2. Expand the Federal Bureaucracy. Create much more of number 1. Why is this important? Because political consistency within the bureaucracy is the best of all options to insure that your political back is covered. The vast array of senior and middle managers will insure that no philosophically inconsistent approaches appear and if they do, they will not gain traction, or be fully executed. In the event that your opponent gains executive level political power this array of individuals will fight the battles until you return to power. One need only look to last years National Intelligence Estimate on Iran to see the power of a bureaucracy working in opposition to a sitting President or a stated policy that they are not in agreement with. Yes, yes I know you did not vote for bureaucrats, but that is the present day reality and the power they wield is pervasive.
3. Carefully Define (Overstate) the Scope of the Problem. Margaret Thatcher upon dispatching a member of her cabinet to deal with a problem received an update a couple of weeks later. The dispatched party reported that he had set up a special government department to deal with the problem. Thatcher, livid excoriated the functionary, “Once we set up a government department that depends upon the existence of the problem, we’ll never get rid of it!” Maggie’s logic works all too well, in both directions. Associate the logic with numbers 1 & 2.
4. New Voters. The best way to add to your majority is with the potential infusion of new voters who are beholden to your side of the aisle. The only way to generate new voters in large numbers quickly is to adopt a policy of open immigration and create an easy path for illegal immigrants already here. Net result, 12 – 18 million potential new voters many of which reside in your opponents traditional strongholds.
5. Broaden your existing base. You know they’re out there, you know that they have resisted federal identification. You take the position that you believe that they have not been counted in sufficient numbers. Your plan, control the census process with the application of new statistical profiling methods that count more of your base and less of the other guy’s base. The resultant re-districting of Congressional districts adds to your majority.
6. Congressional Representation. Not a lot of latitude here but you take what you can get. Support D.C. statehood based on “fairness”, those folks must be properly represented. You get two Democratic senators and a few extra in the House. Support statehood for Puerto Rico. Same dynamic. You now have the reasonable expectation that those new seats will remain in your column for generations. When times are tough that might just be enough to hold back the tide.
7. Reinvigorate Social Engineering. Use whatever “crisis” may occur to extend the defined scope and impact of the crisis. Always speak to “root causes”. Utilize crisis to reestablish the policy thinking of the past 30 years related to welfare, spending, government intervention and social “fairness” issues. What cannot be manipulated must be bought.
8. Straw Men. You must provide a regular supply of Straw Men that you can set up and knock down. The classic method is, of course, to oversimplify and exaggerate the other guy’s position. If they resist your ideas, they’re “do nothings”, if they stand on principal, identify times in the past where they have not stood on principal, and so on. You need a dramatic foil and the best ones are the ones you create for yourself.
Does any of this sound familiar?