Conservatives Keep Losing Because They’re Reading The Wrong Books

Thinking Strategically

For the past four years. conservatives have worried more about being right while liberals worried about winning.

We all know how that worked out.

It doesn’t matter how right you are if you’re powerless.Right now we are.


I didn’t think so.


After four years of 5,000 Leap and Constitution study groups, of Constitutional workshops, and rallies in the park, let’s make a vow to ourselves and to each other: We’re Done With Losing.

Here are the books I challenge you to read in the next six months. Hold study groups on these tomes. Get people excited about winning a damn race here and there.

I won’t review. I’ll give you the list. Amazon’s pretty good about turning shoppers into buyers.


Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation

The Fourth Turning

The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns

The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care)

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Steve Jobs

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life

Imagine: How Creativity Works

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

These books are not about the Constitution or the wages of socialism. You already know all you need to know about those things.

These books are about winning. If you don’t start winning, it won’t matter what you else you know or believe.

P.S. If you object to any of these titles because they’re by or about a liberal, you’re the problem.


14 thoughts on “Conservatives Keep Losing Because They’re Reading The Wrong Books”

  1. It’s amazing how much faith you have in our ability to rise up against the empire based on attitude and spin. It really looks like any future conservative victory will be born of a crisis or be based on a personality-driven campaign somehow going “viral” or something out of step. I’ll always be willing to pitch in but there are at least three unremitting facts that prove overwhelming in almost every instance of popular voting and none of them favor conservatives.
    1. Propaganda works. In the case of conservatives vs. progressives we may win a battle or two but we will lose that war virtually every time: government + media = your ideas are not getting out there. Think about how much penetration the “Romney hates dogs” story got. Mostly think about how indefensible it seemed the first time you heard it then remind yourself what it takes to “unhear” a shot like that for the average voter. Think about the insane ways the government communicates to us on conditions in the economy like unemployment, energy, or any topic that a voting citizen might consider at election time.
    2. Manpower + money counts big time. Working as a volunteer I logged as many phone bank/lit drop/etc. hours as possible on weekends and evenings, as did many others. The low estimates for the paid campaign workers provided by unions is in the 500,000 to 1,000,000 category. Paid workers plus gobs of money vs. volunteers + gobs of money = very tall odds against the volunteers.
    3. Self-interest. In particular, when “voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure” the majority will move in that direction. It might start small, for example having someone else pay for what we think is a good purpose: let smokers/drinkers pay for this project I want; let out-of-towners pay for “X” with excessive hotel and rental car taxes. These let somebody else pay for me ideas have now morphed into “soak the rich” with rich being anyone who has more than I do (see the Rosanne Barr tax plan).

  2. The key to the voter’s psyche is EMOTION. And that voter cares more about gratifying his or her ego than drawing another breath. Reason goes nowhere with a population that views the economy through the
    eyes of a 6 year old. The last thing they want is having to grow up and face reality. To them, Conservative are the adults who won’t give in to their infantile demands. Liberal government is “mommy”, who, keeps the cookie jar full and leaves it in reach. Forget facts. This manufactured majority fostered by our enemies wants their fairy tale to come true, a world where they never have to compete to get a living. To understand what drives them, the book all should read is The Great Roob Revolution, by Roger Price; Random House 1970. If you ever played Monster Madlibs, you know his work.

  3. I’m sorry, but an itinerant Jewish Preacher who was a tad smarter than Hennessy once stated: “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” “Matthew 16:26 New International Version

    Another wrote: “Wicked men are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm.” Proverbs 12:7 New International Version

    Yet another ancient writing: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 New International Version

    While your basic premise that conservatives need to offer a smarter resistance they cannot retreat on their principles or else they are just the other team, and the RINOcrats at best are just the junior varsity squad for the demonicrat first string.

      1. Too many people are quick to cannibalize other conservatives regarding “principles.” In no place in the above post did I see where Bill advocates a “win at all costs” mentality. From what I’ve read on this blog, Bill has always advocated for strong, principled policies. So, just because we have principles, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to win elections. In fact, if we truly believe our principles, we should be doing anything and everything just short of compromising our principles to actually win elections. I’m with Bill here – I’M DONE WITH LOSING.

  4. “The Hobsons of Rainbow Creek – A Tea Party Novel” is a good book to illuminate one’s path to start thinking about smart conservative ideas.

  5. Equally as important as “how” to campaign is “where” to campaign. It doesn’t do any good to just try to win elections in districts where conservatives already enjoy majority support. We have to take the fight to those areas where the Democrats/socialists/statists hold sway, and start winning voters away from them thru the strength of our ideas.

  6. While I can only claim two of those books (The Fourth Turning & The Next 100 years), I can claim to have been reading the genre for a couple decades, and I’m not seeing the panacea in them. Maybe it’s the “Reading the wrong books” line, rather than not reading enough books, that has gotten under my skin here, but the right books can’t be wrong.

    Not enough? Sure. Wrong? Nope.

    Not to mention that ‘a whole 4 years’ of study, hardly makes up for generations of complete neglect. I’m sure you heard about the meeting in Jeff City a week ago (I’m still writing, and throwing away, my posts on that)… a demonstration in sound understanding of what our govt is and requires, it was not. But the calls for ‘messaging’ and ‘reaching out’ and thinking strategically, were mind numbingly, and repetitively, well represented.

    People are big on “NEW!”, but the vast majority of us have only been reading and studying the ‘old’ ideas our system is founded upon (the only New political ideas in a thousand years), for the last 4 yrs, or (more likely) less. IOW, they have an equivalent constitutional understanding of an early 19th century 5th grader – without having all the names & dates memorized, that is.

    And that’s enough? Now on to strategizing on how to sell those ideas? Really? I just don’t see our successfully short circuiting history through marketing.

    I don’t know about you, but I remember (and read) ‘The mind of a strategist’! ‘Winning through intimidation’? ‘The book of nine rings’! Guerrilla Marketing?! NLP? Branding?! ‘Tipping point’… etc., etc., etc., and millions upon millions of those & other books were sold and read by Americans of all stripes, through the 80’s & 90’s & 00’s – I’d lay odds that the average American has a far better understanding of salesmanship than citizenship. The problem is that you can’t sell/market/brand/stragegize/network, what you don’t understand.

    You Can do that just fine with a leftist line of ideas, they CAN be sold emotionally, and they won’t upset the digestion because there’s no there there to disturb things with. Not so with conservatism. The best that can be hoped for with that formula is to sell people on what they think they’re getting… even though it isn’t. It’s one thing to sell on emotion something that has no substance to begin with. It’s another thing entirely to sell something of substance, with insubstantial ploys, by hucksters who don’t believe it, to people who don’t really understand it. Hello buyers remorse if you do succeed. Which I think the last several elections have proved brilliantly.

    I realize that I’m stepping past half your point Bill, and there just… might… be… a drying glass of Scotch somewhere near by… but… seriously, ‘the wrong books’?… that first step past that is a doozy.

  7. Van,
    Well received, all. But I’m not talking just about messaging (though that’s important). It’s also knowing how to target, whom to target, and what to target with. It’s understanding the new weapons in this battle.

    Wrong books? To the degree that we believe that the answer to persuasion lies in the literature of our concepts, Yes. Deeper understanding of the problem domain doesn’t prepare us to actualize the domain. And actualization is what we’re missing. The believers are becoming more convinced. We understand each other more, while the uninitiated understand us less. We’re creating what I call an “affinity bubble.” Inside the bubble, believers understand each other with increasing clarity. Outside the bubble, our words sound increasingly foreign. And bubble’s getting smaller.

    We rely on experts like you. Without you and your deep understanding of core concepts we’d have nothing to share. But we must share it. We must have translate truth to outsiders, to draw more people into the bubble. And we’re not doing that effectively or efficiently.

    As Jonah Lehrer wrote in Imagine:

    We assume that technical problems can be solved only by people with technical expertise; the researcher most likely to find the answer is the one most familiar with the terms of the question. But that assumption is wrong. The people deep inside a domain— the chemists trying to solve a chemistry problem— often suffer from a kind of intellectual handicap. As a result, the impossible problem stays impossible. It’s not until the challenge is shared with motivated outsiders that the solution can be found.

    I’m stretching the concept, here, from people to books, but I think it’s an elastic concept.

    I’m not saying we should shun great foundational books. I’m saying, once we’ve struck gold, we need to suspend surveying and dig for awhile.

  8. The problem is, that the only way to enable people to let go of the cultural habits they’ve glommed onto the constitution, is through their coming to better understand it’s essential principles – that isn’t going to happen without their gaining a better understanding of what lays behind their caricatures and habits.

    Without that, you get people using networking to advance their causes – nullification, secession, Fed Marriage laws, ‘Godly’ this & that made law (of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with Godly this and that, but it becomes ungodly when fused with the power of law).

    If you get your wish, that people become more effective and efficient in pushing what they want, without understanding what they should… we’ll just get the mirror image of what the left is selling… Power, by any other name, would smell the same.

    Gloomy? Yeah. I’m having a hard time seeing through it.

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