“If you are in the hip pocket of any political party, prepare to be sat on.” ~ Gary North
Political victory in the United States is best defined as follows:
Getting your political agenda enacted into law, enforced by the Executive branch, and upheld by the courts.
A definition of political victory that ignores any of these criteria is part of a shell game: getting people elected for their careers’ sake, not your agenda.
To achieve this three-part victory, you must be part of a voting bloc that has the power to impose sanctions: positive and negative.
Establishment politicians understand this. They respect it. They have learned to exploit it. They tell their constituents: “You can win through me if you supply the votes to enable me to win (positive sanction) at the expense of my opponent (negative sanction).” This is the politics of the shell game, what I call the Punch and Judy show.
The correct definition of the power to impose political sanctions is this:
Sufficient votes to deliberately keep your party’s candidate from winning in November if he waffles, and sufficient votes to elect his replacement two years later.
There is a corollary:
The willingness to run a post-nomination independent candidate against an incumbent member of your party if he has waffled during his most recent term in office.
Any voting bloc that has this ability will not be in any party’s hip pocket.
Conclusion: a fundamental strategy for political success is to get the rival wing of your party into the party’s hip pocket.
In modern American history, we saw this strategy applied by the Eastern Republican Establishment’s refusal to support Goldwater in 1964. They ran Governor Scranton as a last-ditch effort to keep Goldwater from getting the nomination. When that failed, they literally walked out of the convention.
Johnson won in 1964. He did not run in 1968. Nixon defeated Humphrey, and the Republican Establishment took over the White House in 1969. They were willing to go down to defeat in 1964 in order to ruin the Goldwater wing of the party. They were wise to do this.