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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

In Order to Fight, We Need Soldiers

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Kevin Binversie has an interesting piece today on the strategic wisdom of Ron Johnson, and the folly of Ted Cruz.

As much as I respect the call to "Fight" from conservative activists, organizations and the zeal of U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), there is much that is wanting from their strategy to "defund" ObamaCare. Not only was it never going to bear fruit in a U.S. Senate where Harry Reid still controls the calendar, it derailed legitimate negotiating leverage Republicans had over the debt ceiling, and depending on how you look at it, might have played a hand in costing the GOP the governorship of Virginia.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for fighting for what you believe in. I just think that conservatives, Tea Party members and mainstream Republicans need to have something beyond the threat of taking our ball and going home. Such a strategy – pushed by Cruz, Lee, national radio pundits and others – is unappealing to the majority of Americans. It may play well for those inside the cocoon, but it doesn’t win converts and you need converts to win elections. 
If conservatives are truly committed to getting rid of the legislative abomination known as Obamacare, they need to get smarter. They need to remember their Rumsfeld. That you fight wars – especially the political ones – with the army you have, not the army you wish you had. 
This means we need to start winning elections, not just primaries. Nothing has been more infuriating to those who want to see the Senate in GOP hands and the elimination of Obamacare only to watch it blow up due to unhinged moments from unprepared candidates who you feel were vetted by amateurs. I’ve already said twice on these pages my dissatisfaction with recent actions of outside groups who play in GOP primaries, so there’s no need to rehash all that. 
Getting smarter not just means attacking Obamacare, but doing so with surgical strikes. That means using the president’s own words and promises against him. It is what makes legislation like Sen. Johnson’s "If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It" bill so politically brilliant. While unlikely to become law, its mere existence forces Democrats to defend their own failed policy and further traps them in the public relations corner they’re in. 
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