Saturday, October 09, 2010

Facing the arithmetic

In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln was in a terrible situation. The union army had suffered loss after bloody loss and the President had replaced the head of his army several times. Although the union army had vastly superior numbers, better material, and every other conceivable advantage, Lincoln could not find a general to defeat the enemy. After the disastrous rout at Fredericksburg, Lincoln confided to his staff, "No general yet found can face the arithmetic, but the end of the war will be at hand when he shall be discovered."

A case in point; General George B McClellan.

After losing the first major battle of the war at Bull Run, the dapper, highly educated McClellan was named General in Chief. He was the darling of the newspapers, brilliant when it came to organizational structure, and preparing his army for battle, there was only one problem; he was tentative in battle. Always overestimating the enemy's size and strength, he would vacillate and demand more troops and more supplies.

McClellan's failure in the Peninsula Campaign earned his demotion. He was replaced by a string of generals, who were in turn, soundly defeated by the confederates. Lincoln faced the unenviable choice of bringing McClellan back. McClellan reorganized the army and through incredible circumstances, and stout fighting by his men, defeated General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Antietam. With Lee's army in retreat, McClellan failed to pursue the confederates, and they escaped back to Virginia. McClellan could have won the war that day, but he did not, and the nation would suffer through three more years of bloodshed.

Lincoln understood that the war was not about gaining or holding territory, the war would only be won when the confederate army was defeated, down to its last man.

In 1864, Lincoln finally found the general who could face the arithmetic. Ulysses S. Grant was no one's idea of a Major General. At the start of the war, he was working as a clerk in his father's tannery shop in Galina Illinois. His early reputation was one of a hard fighting, simple man, who was prone to drinking. In Grant, Lincoln found the one general who knew how to win the war. Engage the enemy, never let him regroup, and use your superior numbers to the best advantage.

After taking overall command of union forces, Grant was defeated in his first encounter with Lee at the Battle of the Wilderness. The nation waited for another retreat back to Washington, but Grant would have none of it. The next morning, instead of retreating, Grant pressed on toward the confederate capital. He would simply fight the confederates on their turf and grind them into submission. He did.

I know what you must be thinking, “thanks for the ninth grade history lesson, but so what?” I want to talk about this November's elections.

I know who I am voting for and which campaigns I am going to contribute to, but similar to the two thousand eight election cycle, there will many, many new voters going to the polls this year. What will they be voting for, and more importantly, what will they be voting against? Just as people voted for change when they cast their ballot for Barack Obama, this year many will be voting for a change to something else. The Republicans in Washington are licking their chops, as they should be. If the GOP can't win the House this year, they should just go home.

Here is my question; are we going to be voting for the second command of George McClellan, or are we voting for U.S. Grant?

The Tea Party is filled with U.S. Grants. Sure, some of them have rough edges, and they do not have the polish of seasoned politicians, but that is the point. The GOP, and more importantly the nation, needs people who will stand up for the founding principles. Yes, these new Republicans will say some unflattering things, and yes, they will fall into traps set by the media, but they will press forward, always forward. The Washington Republican establishment had better start recognizing the tidal wave of anti-politics-as usual sentiment heading their way, or they will be looking for life rafts when it hits.

When the national party keeps backing the establishment, moderate, GOP candidates against this new breed of Republicans, they are showing how out of touch they are. If we lose a few seats this cycle by backing new blood, we lose them. The worst thing the Republican Party could do right now is to gain control of Congress with the same crew who spent their way right out of power.

There is a political storm brewing out there. This storm is tired of broken promises; it is tired of spending away our children's future. This coming storm wants smaller government, less taxes, and people who are willing to make tough choices, and stand behind them. They are looking for a government that can face the arithmetic.

Have no illusions, if the GOP gains control and actually propose spending cuts, the media and the Democrats will howl with disapproval. This new breed of Republican, the ones who have those Tea Party roots, they can take the heat. The moderate, milk toast, Washington insider Republicans will wilt under the pressure.

Midway through his command, Grant was labeled a butcher, a cold-hearted beast who cared little for the soldiers who were dying. The reality was this; Grant knew what had to be done to win. That is exactly what he did.

Let's vote for a few Grants this November.

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