When You Want to Kill a Hydra, You Don't Aim for the Head...
Hercule et l'Hydre de Lerne, by Gustave Moreau (source; click to enlarge — extra large version here)
by Gaius Publius
Scheduling note: Starting this week, my comments here will appear regularly on Monday and Thursday.
Sometimes movements are defined by just the leader. In the old-time Westerns, if you knock out (non-violently, of course) the lead guy who's been yelling "Let's lynch him," the rest of the mob goes home. But not all movements are single-headed. Some are like hydras, many-headed and hard to put down. Thus the quote of which the title is just one part:
When you want to kill a hydra, you don't aim for the head. And when you want to stop a movement, you don't try just go after the face in the front, because they'll be replaced.The following is from a Facebook post by Noah Reson-Brown, and it hits several nails right on the head. (Those nails have names, by the way.) And while I don't agree with every point made — I think Trump himself is dangerous as well, for example — I believe the writer is on to something. Give this some thought (my emphasis throughout):
Donald Trump is not the enemy.A hydra with three heads. And they are...
That may sound weird coming from a liberal progressive, but I'm also one of those people who wouldn't shoot Hitler if he could go back in time. Is that because I don't believe violence is ever the answer? No. Is that because I don't believe in stopping genocide? No. It's because I recognize that when you want to kill a hydra, you don't aim for the head. And when you want to stop a movement, you don't try just go after the face in the front, because they'll be replaced. I wouldn't shoot Hitler, I'd go after Joseph Goebbels, because he was the voice.
Donald Trump is an empty suit, a narcissist who will agree with whomever flattered him last. It's why he switched from Democrat to Republican, why he's got a Jewish daughter and yet is now pushing nazi propaganda. He's just going with those who are playing him like a puppet. And there's three factions doing that right now. Eliminating him only serves to help one of those factions and does a bit more to damage the other two. So let's talk about those guys.
First of all, you've got Mike Pence. Pence is a theocratic Christian zealot, the kind who's got a quiverfull army backing his play (you know, these guys: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiverfull). Victory for that group means LGBT rights go straight to hell, and a lot of these people are downright apocalyptic. Their plan? Push their agenda as far as they can using Trump as a scapegoat for any problems that arise, then impeach Trump and have their man in the big chair. Attacking Trump instead of his policies helps them, because people forget the policies and just think "yay, we won" when Trump goes down."Go to town" indeed. I smell opportunity with at least two of the three names above. Pence may be harder to get at, but Ryan and Bannon look like sitting ducks, virtually speaking.
Second, you've got most congressional Republicans. They're more traditional conservatives. They're on the same game plan as the theocrats, wanting to push their agenda and then blame Trump once he's out (you lost health care because of Trump! But thank goodness we repealed that nasty Obamacare!). They're mostly lead by Paul Ryan. Again, attacking Trump instead of his actions absolves them of any guilt once he's out. He's the pinata for you to vent your rage on while they get shit done. They figure they can work with Pence once Trump's out to get their will, and they're okay with the evangelical folks getting what they want too as long as the Republicans get power.
And third... well there's [Steve] Bannon. Bannon's sitting on Trump's shoulder and telling him what to do, and it's bad enough that Trump's now eating out of his hand. Hell, Bannon's in the security meetings instead of the joint chiefs. So what does Bannon want? Well he's a bloody neo-nazi who wants to destroy everything, quite literally. Then man's pure evil and he knows it. That Muslim ban that's currently masquerading as a ban of only a few countries? His baby. Removing all references of Jews from the speech about the Holocaust? That's him too. Build a wall? He's there. The one good thing in all this... if Trump goes down Bannon doesn't have many more inroads into the political machine, for now.
But what's the point of all this? The point [in] attacking Trump is just attacking the smoke screen. Hit the policies. Tie the advisors to them. Make sure that when Trump goes down he takes Bannon and Pence and Ryan down with him. The recent airport protests were wonderful, because they attacked the policies and were clear about their goals, while protests that are just against Trump and are about screaming at how Trump voters are all racists are often as harmful as they are helpful (because they just end up alienating the folks who voted for him). People who voted for Trump identify with him... but they don't identify with Bannon. Go to town there.
Many Trump Voters Would Have Chosen Sanders...
Reson-Brown then makes a point that I've made many times myself, most recently in the final paragraph here — that we need the biggest coalition we can get to fight the Trump/Republican coup machine. We're not going to get that by bashing all Trump supporters as if there were no differences among them.
Remember, many Trump supporters would have voted for Sanders if Sanders had not been roughly shouldered out by every element of the entrenched Democratic machine — including its secret-surrogate media hosts and Rolodexed pundit list. (There's anecdotal evidence that in open primaries, many people who supported Trump did vote for Sanders instead.) All potential Sanders supporters need to be asked back into the Sanders-issues fold, then left to decide for themselves who will stand with us and who will choose race-bashing over improving their lives.
Some, perhaps many, will cross back to us. It certainly won't help if our sneering drives them all away.
We need, in other words, the biggest movement we can get, not just to defeat privatizing, pro-wealth Trumpist policies, but also to make sure that neo-liberal — privatizing, pro-wealth — solutions are toxic in the Democratic Party as well.
Reson-Brown makes the same point:
And for god's sake, remember that the only way to win this is to build a bigger political army. The quiverfull people have been building an army for decades. And unless we want to outbreed them, the only way to do that is to build alliances with people we may not fully agree with, including people who voted for Trump out of a fear of Clinton (no, don't just rail at them for being sexist monsters, many of them had reasonable reasons). There was a time when the left understood this, supporting union mobilization and alliances between poor white workers and civil rights advocates (because social and economic justice are not mutually exclusive). There was a time when we understood that you have to listen to the plight of others before coming up with solutions so you know your solutions won't cause unintended harm. There was a time we knew when alliances were two way streets, and didn't call someone an ally while telling them to "shut up and listen" or claim that an attempt to share similar experiences was "derailing". We need to return to that time, or things will get a lot worse before they get better. I see plenty of conservatives terrified of the recent government overreach, Christians who are horrified at the idea of chasing away foreigners, and anti-Clinton voters who despise what Trump has done. Those people can be allies, if we're willing to work with them.For those who forgot:
Quiverfull is a movement among some conservative fundamentalist Christian couples, chiefly in the United States, but with some adherents in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and elsewhere. The movement sees children as a blessing from God and it promotes compulsory procreation, abstaining from all forms of birth control, (including natural family planning) and sterilization.There's no time (nor frankly, inclination) to outbreed them. Might as well win back as many as we can to the Sanders Side.
Not Just a Battle; An Opportunity as Well
There are two armies in the field against us, and it's going to be a long (but fun, perhaps) battle, with many opportunities to trip up both sides. Paul Ryan, for example, if he were every effectively challenged — and just not handed his DCCC shield of protection — is vulnerable to electoral defeat. WI-01 is considered a swing district with a PVI of R+3, and stretches from south Milwaukee to the Illinois border. Any competent DCCC attack would have sent him to K Street long ago. Could still happen. Is next time too soon?
If Trump becomes toxic, he still has four years in office. But any member of the Republican House can be made toxic-by-association with Trump. If so, if we're effective in doing that, they'll be constantly looking at their own next election, and looking over their shoulder as well.
Who better than Paul Ryan to unseat in 2018. Would that send a shiver up the quiverfull spines of the rest? Opportunity.
A Shot Across the Vichy Democratic Bow
By the way, there's no reason we can't do the same to a few "bad Senators" on the Dem side in 2018. After all, there's no hope in hell of Democrats taking the Senate in the next election. What a perfect time to send a shot across one or two Vichy Dem bows (Vichy Dem: Votes like a Republican; takes money from Democratic donors.). I'll have a few names for your consideration after the cabinate nomination process is completed. There are some obvious targets already. Stay tuned.