During the 2000 presidential and congressional elections, every Republican member of the U.S. Congress received a free pamphlet, compliments of Congressman Tom DeLay, the party's majority whip. Written by conservative activist David Horowitz, the pamphlet was called The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. It came with an endorsement on the cover by Karl Rove, the senior advisor to then-candidate George W. Bush. According to Rove, The Art of Political War was "a perfect pocket guide to winning on the political battlefield from an experienced warrior." In addition to DeLay's gift to members of Congress, the Heritage Foundation, one of the leading conservative think tanks in Washington, found Horowitz's advice so impressive that it sent another 2,300 copies to conservative activists around the country.
True to its title, The Art of Political War argues that "Politics is war conducted by other means. In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but to destroy the enemy's fighting ability. ... In political wars, the aggressor usually prevails." Moreover, "Politics is a war of position. In war there are two sides: friends and enemies. Your task is to define yourself as the friend of as large a constituency as possible compatible with your principles, while defining your opponent as the enemy whenever you can. The act of defining combatants is analogous to the military concept of choosing the terrain of battle. Choose the terrain that makes the fight as easy for you as possible."
This concept of politics as warfare is intimately connected to Horowitz's personal political roots. In the 1960s, he was a militant Marxist and editor of Ramparts, one of the most radical leftist magazines in the United States. He also lent his vocal support to the Black Panther Party, which advocated and practiced armed "self-defense" against what it viewed as the "foreign occupying force" of racist white police. After becoming disillusioned with the Panthers, Horowitz took a hard swing to the right, thereby winning the admiration of the conservatives he used to denounce. His memoir of the 1960s, Destructive Generation, was one of three books that Karl Rove recommended to George W. Bush in 1993 as Rove began grooming Bush for the presidency. Horowitz has visited Bush personally on several occasions to offer advice, beginning with Bush's days as governor of Texas and continuing during his presidency.
Of course, Horowitz is not the only disillusioned leftist from the sixties. What makes him significant is that his militancy has remained constant, even as his worldview has changed. In a strange way, he remains a Leninist, right down to his appearance (balding, with a Lenin-like goatee). He even continues to offer Lenin's words as advice. "You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate," he explains in The Art of Political War. "You can do it only by following Lenin's injunction: 'In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent's argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.'"
Culture Wars Radio, Episode 7
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