An excerpt from The War for America’s Soul: Donald Trump, the Left’s Assault on America, and How We Take Back Our Country, by Sebastian Gorka. (Regnery Publishing, 256 pages, $28.99)
The radical fringe of the Democratic Party, the extremists of the 1960s and 1970s, have become the “mainstream.” Bernie Sanders, the avowed Vermont socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union, almost won the Democrats’ nomination for president in 2016 (only to have Hillary Clinton steal it with her “superdelegates.”), and the old radicals have now been reinforced by the product of 50 years of left-wing indoctrination in our schools and colleges, exemplified by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
And now, thanks to an acquiescent and obsequious media, their extremist views are parroted openly, including the need to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service and the Department of Homeland Security, as Ocasio-Cortez and her subservient colleagues brazenly promote Communism under the cover of environmentalism with a “Green New Deal” that would ban gas-powered cars, air travel, and beef husbandry as we know it today, and require the destruction and reconstruction of all the homes and commercial buildings in America in order to make them “environmentally friendly.” This would require a Communist-level of government control—and that is the level of control over your lives that the Democratic Party wants to have. If we let them.
We know what our political enemies want and what they have been working for assiduously since the late 1960s. So we have satisfied, according to conventional wisdom, the first task of any war, which is the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu’s admonition to “know your enemy.”
Sun Tzu is a person with whom people like to show off their familiarity. If you go to a fancy cocktail party, somebody will try to drop his name when he’s discussing strategy. Yet Sun Tzu is almost always misquoted. What everybody can tell you is, “Oh, yes, Sun Tzu, the master of strategy said, ‘You must know your enemy in order to defeat him!’” But it’s not that simple. If you know your enemy, you will only be victorious in half your battles.
The original quote is, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
And this is our biggest problem now, our biggest problem as conservatives, and our biggest problem as a civilization since the 1960s: we do not know who we are, and we’ve allowed those who actually have disdain for our civilization to gain control of our culture.
Politics Is Downstream from Culture
We’ve forgotten how to win, not only because we have far too often lost the will to fight, but also because we’ve forgotten how to tell stories that express what we’re fighting for. You win in politics because your story is better. That’s modern politics. It’s not just about having the facts.
The Gipper was the master politician, in the positive sense of the word. Why? Because he knew the truth, and he knew how to communicate it. The “amiable dunce” who we were told was President Ronald Reagan, spent years before he became governor of California traveling the nation for General Electric, going from factory to factory, lecturing American workers and managers, the backbone of this nation, on why our Republic is so great, and why a free-market constitutional democracy is the greatest economic and political gift to mankind.
He gave hundreds of such lectures to the American people, and he wrote each one himself. So when he finally became president, what did he bring to that position? He had all the facts at his fingertips, but he didn’t, as is so often the case on our side, just regale his audience with the facts. He didn’t just give them statistics and quotes from von Mises and Hayek or Burke until people started snoring. He communicated the truth of those eternal verities as a talented Hollywood actor can, by telling stories. He combined the truth with a capacity to connect emotionally with his audience.
This is what we forget. One more policy paper, one more full-page ad in a newspaper makes not one whit of difference. Not one whit. And the conservative movement has wasted billions of dollars on the wrong things for decades now.
If only we had listened to the wisdom of one man, the late Andrew Breitbart. Righteous Indignation is the most important book I have read in the last 20 years. And I read a lot. It offers his own superb description of the roots of the far Left and his own heroic struggle against its growing influence. But beyond his book and the website he founded, the most important thing about Andrew—and this is why we owe him such a great debt—is that he, in one sentence, in one constantly repeated adage, gave us the road map to victory when he said, “Politics is downstream from culture.”
Every morning when we wake up, we must have that emblazoned in front of our eyes. We will never win a political battle on a political battleground, because by the time an issue—whether it’s immigration, education, or the right to life—becomes a political hot potato debated on Capitol Hill, it has already been decided in the culture, probably a decade before it became a policy discussion in the Swamp.
You want to know who’s to blame for the fact that antisemitic, radical socialists like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez are embraced by the Democratic Party? Look in the mirror. Yes, we are to blame. The Left had a plan to dismantle Judeo-Christian civilization from the inside, and we let them. Don’t blame a scapegoat. We are responsible for where we are today. And only we can fix it.
A Life-Changing Event
I had the high honor of serving Mr. Trump as an advisor during his campaign, and then as a strategist in the White House after he became president. Whatever God you pray to, I can tell you one thing with utter certitude: November 8, 2016, is proof empirical that God exists. We were granted a miracle so that we could try to save our Republic.
Let’s be clear. Hillary Clinton had it in the bag: $1.4 billion spent, 95 percent of the media in her back pocket, the establishment in her back pocket, and an utter conviction that the prize was hers, that she would become the first woman president. And then what happened?
A man who had never held political office, not at the county level, let alone at the state or federal level, became president of the United States in his first attempt at elected office. Before Trump, every president of the United States had, in some way, been a product of the political or military establishment, even the changemakers. They had all been previously elected as politicians or served as military commanders. And then along comes a guy who had 14 seasons of a reality TV show.
General Michael Flynn was spot on when he said that what happened in November 2016 was a peaceful political revolution. And everything is on the table in 2020. Everything.
Look at what’s going on, whether it’s freedom of speech, healthcare, education, the Second Amendment, right-to-life issues—all of it is on the table. The Left even wants to abolish the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement so that we’ll have no protection at our national borders, and become defenseless. They want, in short, to abolish America, and they want to replace our political and economic freedoms, which have made us the greatest country in the world, with the economic and moral failure that is socialism.
Let me make this personal.
It is possible at times to identify moments in your life where everything changes, where a decision point is met and you go down one avenue and not the other, and it changes all. Mine occurred in the south of France when I was about eight years old.
My parents were Hungarians who escaped the Communist regime in Hungary and resettled in Britain, where I was born and raised. But my parents were very worldly, very cultured, and they loved to travel. Every summer we would go abroad, usually to the south of France.
We were on a beach, and I was playing with my Action Men (the British version of G.I. Joes) in the sand, as a child should. My father came out of the ocean from a swim. He had been an amazing athlete, a member of the Hungarian national crew team, and even though the Communists had arrested and imprisoned him, they failed to break him physically, and he was still a huge bear of a man. As I looked at him, I saw something that I hadn’t noticed before. I said to my father, “What are those lines on your wrists?”
Without emotion, without skipping a beat, he looked at me and said, “Son, that’s where the Secret Police bound my wrists together with wire behind my back so they could hang me from the ceiling of the torture chamber.”
That’s when my life changed.
From that moment onward, Good and Evil weren’t theoretical, abstract concepts. Good and Evil weren’t fanciful words from fairy tales about dragons and witches in forests. Good and Evil walked the earth. Evil existed in the hearts of men, men like the Communist officers who had tortured my father in the basement of their headquarters. My father was an anti-Communist student and dissident, arrested, tortured, and imprisoned with a life sentence. Two years in solitary confinement, two years down in the prison coal mine, before he was liberated by the freedom fighters in the glorious but short-lived Hungarian Revolution. And he faced Evil, Evil done by men, Evil that cost the lives—in just the last century—of 100 million souls.
Read The Black Book of Communism, written by a group of European historians, social scientists, and researchers. One of its chief authors, Stéphane Courtois, was himself a former socialist who recanted. Together, they catalogued the crimes of Communism across the globe, from Russia to Cambodia. And it’s all there for you to read. At least 100 million human beings killed. It is this ideology that has taken hold of the Democratic Party, from top to bottom, from “old white men” like Bernie Sanders to young Puerto Rican ex-bartenders from Brooklyn like Ocasio-Cortez.
I tell you this because the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation does a poll every year with YouGov, a very serious poll, before their annual gala. Last year’s Victims of Communism poll found that 52 percent of American Millennials would prefer to live in a Communist or socialist America. We have our work cut out for us.
I am an American by choice, not by accident. And I’m proud to live in the greatest nation on God’s earth. But we have ceded the battlefield. It was one man who didn’t need the job, but who took on the challenge as a patriotic duty, who has given us a tiny window to save our Republic. And every single reader of this essay has a role to play.
In June, President Trump launched his reelection campaign for 2020 from a stadium in Orlando, and I was there. It was an electrifying evening with 21,000 people inside and thousands more outside, some of whom had lined up more than two days before the event. The night was opened by Lara Trump, then Eric Trump, followed with his brother Don, Jr. Finally, Vice President Mike Pence spoke and introduced the president and the first lady.
President Trump’s speech was perhaps his best ever, and the message was very simple. Halfway through, he asked: “What happens if we lose?” Just imagine what happens to the courts, including the Supreme Court, to your right to control your healthcare, to your Second Amendment rights, to a newborn baby’s right to life. They want to take it all. Think what will happen if the radical Left wins in 2020.
Because I am an American by choice, my default position is optimism because that is what America means to me—we are an optimistic country of freedom and opportunity and success. We must be optimists as Americans. But I have lived in D.C. long enough to know that this is a dark, dark moment, especially when we are honest about what really happened in 2016. Donald J. Trump won despite the GOP. He did not win because of the Republican Party, he won despite the Republican party.
And it is a rank, festering indictment of our party that we have more than two hundred men and women on Capitol Hill, meant to represent their districts, meant to represent conservative voters, who have the letter R next to their name, when how many of those official Republicans have had the president’s back for the last three years? I’ll tell you right now: it’s a handful. Matt Gaetz, Devin Nunes, Lindsey Graham, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Lee Zeldin, Louie Gohmert, and a few others. This is their president! This is the man who brought the GOP back from the brink of turning over our future to Hillary Clinton and the socialism of the Democratic Party. The rest of the cowardly Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. But they aren’t, and as a result, it is for us to put their feet to the fire, to make them afraid for their political future and re-election, and, in the meantime, mobilize everyone around us.
And it’s a very simple thing. It doesn’t matter where I go. Whether it’s a radio event, a book event, a rally, or a lecture. I always say the same thing to everyone: each of you needs to bring 10 conservative-minded people who would otherwise not vote to the polling stations. You know the Democrats’ machine will be organized. You know it will bus people to the polls. We need every single Trump-supporting voter to turn out and cast his or her ballot.
In the meantime, I don’t care how old you are, I don’t care how cack-handed you consider yourself to be technologically, if you don’t have a social media account on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. It really is that simple. Because there is a reason this man has 60 million Twitter followers—because we ceded the culture, and because the media and information domains belong to them, and the president needs a way to get his word out.
CNN cut the coverage of the biggest presidential rally in modern history because the audience started to chant, “CNN sucks.” The American people expressed their opinion, spoke the truth, and CNN cut the feed. That’s what you do in Venezuela. So, it’s up to us to replace Fake News with real news about President Trump’s accomplishments. Follow him, retweet him, post instances of the Left’s corruption and malfeasance, which is happening all around us all the time, from school boards demanding that elementary school students be exposed to the ideology of “transgenderism” to so-called “sanctuary cities” that harbor criminals and refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement. We need to be out there with the modern equivalent of a megaphone. Otherwise, we will lose.
There’s a very famous Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng, a pro-life lawyer who happens to be blind. The Chinese Communist party put him under house arrest, but he escaped. He climbed onto the roof of his shack, walked to the next village, evaded the secret police, and made it hundreds of miles to Beijing where he sought asylum in the American embassy. Because that’s who we are: we are the beacon of liberty and hope to the world. But if we don’t win in 2020, and we have socialism imposed upon us by the Democratic Party, you, dear reader, are not going to have another nation’s embassy to run to. That reality, those stakes, are what we need to remember.
Since January 1, 2019, I’ve been incredibly blessed to be given an incredible national radio show, AMERICA First on the Salem Network. I’m convinced I have the best callers in the industry—they’re just absolutely incredible. I’m going to highlight one of my callers as an example of the fortitude we will all have to have to win the political and cultural war we are in.
I had a veteran call in. He was a member of a minority. He’d served his nation and was now in the federal government, and he told me on live radio that his son had been a serviceman, serving multiple tours abroad after the 2001 attacks. He said that after his son’s last tour of duty, he came home only to be killed by an illegal alien without a driver’s license who crashed his vehicle into him. And this caller said to me, “I’m a veteran, my son served his nation, he’s now dead. And I’m not getting a paycheck because the government has shut down. But I want my president to keep the government shut down until the wall is built!”
Do we have that same level of love for our country? Do we have that level of commitment?
The most important speech, historically, that the president has given to date was in Warsaw in July 2017. When I was in the White House, we were preparing that speech, and the hosts, the Polish government, wanted President Trump to deliver it in a very fancy palace downtown, and we said no. We said we want the president of the United States to be in the outskirts, by the statue which marks the site of the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupation. We want him right there, next to the statue of freedom fighters, who are seen coming out of the sewers to fight the fascists. Eventually, the Polish government acquiesced.
And that speech is a speech that gives me strength when I read it. And I’ve read it at least twice on my radio show. Here are the two crucial passages:
The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?
Our own fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield—it begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls. Today, the ties that unite our civilization are no less vital, and demand no less defense, than that bare shred of land on which the hope of Poland once totally rested. Our freedom, our civilization, and our survival depends on these bonds of history, culture, and memory.
What are you prepared to do to protect our country? Are you prepared to run for local office, volunteer on a campaign, support the president and his team on social media? In comparison to what he has done for you, that would seem the least we could all do. Are you with me? Are you with President Trump?
I’m a legal immigrant to the United States. I chose this country, and I know it to be the greatest country on God’s earth. You were likely born here. Will you help me help the president to secure not only your freedom but that of your children and future generations of Americans?
We have to make a principled stand, inform ourselves, and then act. Everyone who loves America has to stand up for the truth. It is up to us. Every single one of us, and everything we do for the cause of our constitutional Republic, matters. Join us in pushing back against the media’s lies and the Democrat party’s embrace of tyranny and socialism. President Trump’s victory in 2016 gave us a fighting chance, but 2020 is the political battle we cannot afford to lose.
Wherever you see lies, wherever you see political correctness at work, push back with the truth. As Andrew Breitbart taught us, we are all citizen journalists now—and you have more audio and video capability in your pocket than journalists had in their duffle bags 20 years ago, so use it. Together we can save America.
AMERICA First is the newest nationally-syndicated radio show in the United States, part of the Salem Radio Network. The host, Sebastian Gorka PhD., served most recently as Deputy Assistant for Strategy to the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, and is author of the New York Times bestselling book “Defeating Jihad.” His latest book is “Why We Fight: Defeating America’s Enemies – With No Apologies.” You can follow him on Twitter @SebGorka, on Facebook, and on Instagram @sebastian_gorka. AMERICA First is available on the iTunes podcast app, streams live at www.sebgorka.com, and is on YouTube. You can contact him here.