Sunday, October 14, 2007

Political Allies * A Re-Post

In the process of moving a politically contentious project through the Democratic Party Of Oregon I learned some things about political alignments, I had further lessons as a candidate in the Democratic Primary for 2nd CD. What I learned is that there are essentially 4 categories of alignment: Friends, Allies, Opponents, Enemies.

We all should know what Friends are, they're close to you and hold to you and support you. You take good care of your friends.

Allies are a little different, they're with you for their reasons. Allies need to be respected, but it also is important to remember that their reasons may not have a lot to do with your reasons. It may require a certain amount of distance or it may require some stroking. An ally may be strong or they may be weak, their motivations may be yours or they may be entirely different. You need to keep an ally close, but you may also have to keep a very sharp eye on him. It is quite possible, for example, for a very left Democrat to have a very Conservative Republican ally on civil liberties - The Bill of Rights, but that certainly doesn't mean the political agendas are suddenly the same, you are allies on an issue. This is not a problem, it simply means there is an intersection of interests in one area and a complete divergence in others.

Opponents are probably one of the more poorly managed alignments, it is important to know what is going on with an opponent, what their motivation is as well as its outcomes. Opponents should be approached with the respect that (Machiavellian speaking) their possible future use is to you. There is a difference between candidates and colleagues, you are trying to completely defeat an opposing candidate, a colleague is someone you will have to deal with in the future. There is every possibility that a current opponent is a possible ally in the future and on that basis should be debated with respect and consideration. A scorched earth policy towards opponents guarantees that they will become an Enemy.

An enemy is probably the safest alignment outside friends, you know where you stand, you know it will be a fight and you know they will be seeking allies, including your weak ones. The best policy is to avoid making enemies, this is the "take no prisoners" aspect of politics. We've seen this aspect of politics from Republicans in the recent past, it should be obvious what the drawbacks are of such management.

This may sound as though principles are optional, that's not the case. The principles of everyone involved in this management scheme are important, but not necessarily an issue. That decision on that issue is determined by applicability to the situation and whether you can be associated with them. The thing to remember is that politics ain't Sunday school, alliances shift, issue overlaps vary, motivations and principles are individual while outcomes are broad. You need to be very aware, but also sometimes need to keep your trap shut.

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