A review of “Confrontational Politics: How to Effectively Practice the Politics of Principle,” by H. L. Richardson (Nordskog Publishing Inc., 128 Pages, $12.95)

The Right Needs a More Confrontational Politics

The late H. L. Richardson drew on his 22 years as a California state senator and his experiences as founder of Gun Owners of California and Gun Owners of America to advocate that constitutionalists adapt and exploit the tactics of statists. 

Richardson distinguished between people he described as humanists, which includes most Democrats and many Republicans, and people he described as traditional Americans. 

Tactics of Humanists 

Humanist Democrats have long practiced politics by confronting traditional Americans. 

In each case, the confrontation has been over a cause of secondary importance to the humanists’ primary purpose. Each cause and confrontation has been a means to build up the humanists’ potential followers, core spokesmen and leaders, seed money, professional management, communications media, and the aura of public support on a given front so the humanists would make progress on their primary purpose—to increase statism, and therefore their control over us. 

Their advances haven’t required the persuasion or support from much of the population. Bill Clinton was selected by the primary votes of just 6 percent of adults. State candidates have been selected by smaller fractions of adults. The initial fields of candidates have been vetted and advanced by activists who have always amounted to much-smaller fractions of adults—for each party, maybe 2.5 percent of adults. To the elected representatives, these activists have always been the people who have really mattered, so these activists have always been the people who have really been represented by our governments. 

Also, among the elected representatives, it has always only been the majority party’s majority caucus that has filled all the legislative positions and committee chairs. 

Because of these built-in characteristics of politics, the most-radical humanist Democrats have had the leverage to control local governments, then state governments, then the national government. And by controlling the power of our governments, increasingly they have had the leverage to control us. 

Republican humanists, for their part, have long practiced politics by confronting Republican traditional-American elected representatives extremely aggressively and antagonistically. Republican humanists’ politics, and ethics, are barely distinguishable from those of humanist Democrats. 

Tactics for Traditional Americans 

Traditional Americans must practice politics by confronting the weaknesses in humanists. 

On policies, for instance, “save the owl” advocates didn’t buy and create a sanctuary, they demanded jobs in government and unconstitutional control of the property of people who produce lumber, which in turn affected people who produce housing and furniture, which in turn affected their suppliers. Traditional Americans must respond to such humanist property-grabbers by organizing the people who produce and use lumber and, using their power, calmly and forcibly confront any supposedly traditional-American congressmen who would consider voting against the interests of these traditional Americans. 

As humanists have shown, political strength is built from confrontation. Traditional Americans must supply the intended victims of humanists with the political professionals, organizations, and tactics needed to build our political strength. 

In elections, traditional-American candidates must regain control by identifying each individual voter’s hot button—abortion, the Second Amendment, the right to work, family values, excessive taxation, regulation, moral corruption—and press only that hot button. Donations from traditional-American voters whose hot button is, for example, abortion must be used to sell pro-life candidates. 

After elections, each traditional-American elected representative must use the leverage provided by his office to educate more voters about the key hot-button issues that got the representative elected. 

Strategies and Weaknesses

Richardson had impressive successes as a politician and as an activist organizer. At the same time, Richardson notably failed in his effort to tip the Republican Party toward majority traditional Americans, in local governments, then in state governments, and then in the national government. Richardson would likely say this project will still work, given enough time, but Confrontational Politics offers clues as to why it has largely failed. 

One weakness is Richardson’s reliance on building a coalition of single-issue voters. 

Richardson thought that humanists have to hold disparate circles of interests together by isolating them from one another, so that the same candidates are voted for by teamsters, longshoremen, homosexual-issue voters, feminists, patriotic World War II elderly, and radical, pot-smoking anti-war demonstrators. 

What Richardson advocated—that traditional Americans adopt all the tactics of humanists except lying—fails to take into account that traditional Americans, unlike humanist issue-voters, have far more that unites them. In particular, they support the Constitution. 

The Constitution leaves nearly all important, contested issues to the state and local governments. The Constitution also provides clear, straightforward ground rules that most people support. Precisely because they are the opposite of humanists, traditional-American elected representatives can deliver for people the option to live under these minimalist rules and to otherwise live freely. Instead of trying to deliver lots of narrow, incomplete policies, traditional-American elected representatives can deliver a single broad, complete, popular process solution that remedies all ills. This will give these representatives very-wide support. 

A second weakness is Richardson’s treatment of third parties. Richardson wrote that the past advocates of Ross Perot, and libertarians, and all third parties distract primarily from the Republicans, and that this is harmful to traditional Americans’ attempts to tip the Republicans to majority traditional American. 

My books The Constitution Needs a Good Party and Constitution Papers suggest a different kind of third party, one with a clearly superior party structure based directly on the Constitution and with improved candidate selection methods and quality controls. This would give voters the option to choose a solid traditional American for every seat in general elections. 

A third party that’s the best-in-class among all parties would create a new, easier-to-reach tipping point, which would now be the point at which the elected Republican traditional Americans (Tea Party advocates for freedom) plus the elected new-party traditional Americans outnumber the elected Republican humanists. Without controlling the Republican Party, traditional Americans would control the local, state, and national governments. 

A third weakness is Richardson’s neglect of the use of local and state government power to tip the national government. 

I have argued elsewhere that the Constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of state government can be used by voters in most states to aggregate rural and suburban counties to form an alternative, more constitutional government in each state that serves the majority of the state’s population. These seceded county-region governments could limit themselves, and would push back against the national government, far better than majority-humanist Democratic and Republican state governments ever could. In addition, these seceded county regions would elect far-more traditional-American representatives to the national government. Together, these changes brought by county-region secessions would tip the county regions and the national government to traditional American by an alternative path, one that could be traveled much faster. 

Confrontational Politics is best viewed as distilling and generalizing from H. L. Richardson’s experience—occasionally limited by that experience, but mostly serving as a well of resources that are largely unappreciated by traditional Americans, that are underused by them, and yet uniquely practical for all. 

The toolkit in Confrontational Politics is unmatched. It’s proven in the hands of humanists, and also in the hands of traditional Americans when it’s been tried. 

Confrontational Politics is recommended most highly. Its tactics, applied to appropriate strategies, are what will tip the United States of America back to freedom. 

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