Today, I would like to talk about warfare. (Now you must imagine RD dressed like some tweedy professor with a bald spot and a bow tie, patches a the elbows of my jacket, standing before you with an overhead projector and some colorful acetates.)
I would like to take you back to the year 1066AD. We are in Anglo-Saxon England and we are in the midst of one of those turmoils where the exact heir to the English throne is somewhat in question. It gets even more complicated when Henry II marries Eleanor of Aquitaine but that’s at least another century from now. In 1066, the match was between Harold and William of Normandy.
On October 14, 1066, the two met at the Battle of Hastings, Harold and his army just arriving from some other nasty skirmishes to the north. Harold employed a tactic called a “shield wall” in battle and it was enormously effective if a bit cumbersome. The idea was that the soldiers at the front of the line would link shields with the men on either side of them. Soldiers in back of the shield wall were then free to lob lethal objects over the heads of the ones in front and shoot arrows and were pretty much protected by the wall. If a shield went down, someone from behind stepped up and filled the gap. It was very effective and Harold used it well. But it did have one little problem…
At the battle of Hastings, Harold *should* have won the day. He had the high ground and he had this amazingly well trained, if a little worn out, shield wall. William’s men had to fight uphill and break on through the shield wall all the while facing some nasty archers behind the shield. It wasn’t looking too good for William with his side taking some heavy casualties while the shield wall held. Then William’s army started to retreat down the hill and when that happened, some of the shield wall got a little cocky, broke ranks and started chasing them. Baaaad idea. William’s troops rallied just when all seemed lost, turned around and broke through what remained of the weakened shield wall. The rest, as they say, is history.
(RD looks around at the students, some of whom are playing with their cell phones, some are playing with their gum, some are sucking up to me in the front row, while others have a completely befuddled expression on their face)
The reason I bring this up is because coalitions only last as long as they stick together. They are strongest when they present a united front. JustSayNoDeal is our coalition and the one who is out there everyday representing us to the media. Our message is a simple one, “If the parties won’t uphold Democratic principles, who will? If the voters don’t hold the parties accountable, who will?” *We* will. We are saying no deal to Obama because we want to hold our party accountable. The coalition represents people who are going to voted for McCain, those who will write in Hillary’s name and those who may not vote at all. Our greatest power is now before the convention. But in order to make our case, we must stick together and present a united front behind which our members can lob verbal missiles and other strategic objects.
Some of you may see other groups who claim to be new coalitions or truncated versions of JustSayNoDeal. Some of these are popping up in the comment threads. We don’t know who these people are. But one thing is for certain: they wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t effective. They are trying to entice members away from the shield wall and weaken us. As soon as gaps appear, like all of the non-McCain voters get up and walk off to a new coalition, the coalition that is JustSayNoDeal will start to fall apart and lose its strength. So, if you are tempted, if there are voices whispering how we’re all funded by Republicans (not true), or some other nasty rumors and you are being lured away, stop and think whether you are sacrificing your strength and investigate who is doing the luring. We do not know who is behind these efforts. So be on your guard. Accept no substitutes.
Hold fast. Link shields. Do not yield. Just Say No Deal.