Great commanders understand the importance of choosing their battlefields carefully and, whenever possible, fighting on the most favorable and advantageous terrain.
At Gaugamela, the outnumbered Alexander the Great got Darius right where he wanted him and destroyed the Persian Empire. Outmanned, Caesar maneuvered Pompey into a tight spot at Pharsalus and won the Roman civil war. As far back as 216 B.C., Hannibal trapped the legions of the Roman Republic at Cannae in a perfect double-envelopment from which there was no escape, and slaughtered them to nearly the last man.
In other words, even if the odds are against you, a smaller and generally more mobile force can defeat a large army if the field is advantageous. As American conservatives—traditional Americans, we should more properly call them—continue to reel from the cultural and political onslaught of the Biden/Harris/Ron Klain/Barack Obama administration, it’s about time we come to realize that we are fighting the wrong enemy on the wrong battlefield, without a proper army.
So what’s to be done?
The Media Battlefield
The first step is to realize that whether the election was literally “stolen”—that is to say, that enough forged ballots with no chain of custody were deliberately injected into the electoral system in order to significantly affect the vote in the principal swing states—or that the illegal and unconstitutional changes in state election law made by leftist governors and attorneys general by using the phantom menace of COVID-19 as an excuse to do so tipped the scales against him, Donald J. Trump lost the election and is no longer president of the United States.
Until that reality, however painful and provoking, is accepted, it’s impossible to make a plan for the future. Fighting the next war with the same strategy and tactics as the last one lost is never a good idea. The truth is, the Democrats were caught with their pants down in 2016, immediately vowed to never let it happen again, and then set about their four-year task of battlespace preparation. You can read all about how they did it in this by now-notorious piece in Time magazine, which includes the following victory lap:
“There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers, and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears.”
All the supererogatory Trump rallies in the world couldn’t compete with that. Because while the president was jibing at the media and Joe Biden’s pathetic and infrequent public appearances, the real action was taking place at the state level, right under the Republican Party’s noses. And the principal battlefield was the media environment.
The corporate media has been drifting left for decades, self-selecting in its hires for progressive radicalism: overly credentialed, poorly educated, and rabidly partisan young reporters who weren’t smart enough to get into law school, but wanted to change the world anyway. Traditional notions of objectivity and evenhandedness had been vanishing for years, but in 2016, The New York Times abandoned all pretense to fairness and issued a call to arms:
“If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that,” wrote Jim Rutenberg in August 2016. “You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. … Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?”
Once absolved by the Mother Church of Progressivism (and now wokism) “journalists” everywhere went to work on Trump with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch. Although they failed to swing the election that year, their opposition only intensified during the “resistance,” as they unabashedly allied themselves with the Democrat Party and gleefully functioned as anti-Trump propaganda outlets 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And that’s where the battle was lost. Enough suburban white wine moms were trained to recoil at Trump’s “mean tweets” and to gravitate toward a clearly senescent Biden in the name of civility.
Flying the false flag of moral high-mindedness, the media shivved Trump at every opportunity. And each time he roared his displeasure and contempt, they shivved him some more. Playing on Trump’s Achilles’ heel—his need to settle every score, chase every squirrel, and charm every correspondent—they transformed the potent, aggressive candidate of 2016 into the wounded King Lear of 2020, with only poisonous Goneril and Regan around him at the end.
In Sarasota the other day, Trump said that exposing the “fake news media” was one of his greatest achievements as president. But we knew that already. On the GOP side, there was no effective retort. By teaming up with tech giants Twitter and Facebook, both of which eventually banned Trump in their effort to totally expunge him from public life, the political left controlled the public space. And with Google algorithmically consigning even the most respectable conservative sites to search-engine Outer Purdah, the war was lost.
True, as Wellington said of Waterloo, it was a damned near-run thing. But, as they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
There’s little likelihood things will improve as the next two election years approach. Conservative donors simply don’t write checks to support ideas, principles, and philosophies, but instead throw their money away on individual, interchangeable candidates or the Republican National Committee. Ask them whether they would financially support start-up rivals to the MSM, and they’ll give you a blank stare and ask: “But what’s my return on investment?”
What indeed? How about, you get to run your business for the next four years? The function of an honest media is to shine a light on matters of public interest. But the major outlets now simply hide it under a bushel. What’s left of “conservative” media, with a few exceptions, is increasingly becoming the province of basement pundits who never spent a day in a real newsroom, operating clickbait-for-boobs sites that cater to the worst instincts of their increasingly desperate audiences.
What they get instead is BOOM! POW! and the promise of a just-around the corner deus ex machina—John Durham, come on down! There are too many skilled polemicists on the other side, sharpening their knives for the next defenseless naif who thinks elections are tea parties instead of trench warfare.
Whoever may be the Alexander, the Hannibal, or the Caesar of the right, this time he must come complete with his own Crassus, an ally or allies positively made of money and willing to spend all of it to finance information warfare on a grand scale in order to preserve the Republic. Before we get around to choosing the next champion, we first must discover the means behind him. Who will step up?
Michael Walsh is the editor of The-Pipeline.org and the author of “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace” and “The Fiery Angel,” both published by Encounter Books. His latest book, “Last Stands,” a cultural study of military history from the Greeks to the Korean War, was recently published.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.