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Notes politics

Strategy 32: Dominate while Seeming to Submit (The 33 Strategies of War)

It is not an enemy who taunts me–then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me–then I could hide from him. But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend……. My companion stretched out his hand against his friends, he violated his covenant. His speech was smoother than butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn.

PSALMS, 55:12-15, 20-21

President Roosevelt faced a dilemma in 1940, he was approaching the end of his second term in office, and in American politics, it was an unwritten tradition that no president would run for a third term. But Roosevelt had plenty of unfinished business.

Europe was deep in a war that would inevitably involve the U.S – and domestically, the country was not doing well. But if Roosevelt revealed his desire for a third term, he would stir up opposition – even from his own party. Many had already suspected him to be somewhat of a dictator.

In the end, Roosevelt got what he wanted, through passive aggression.

Before the Democratic Convention took place, Roosevelt said he wasn’t interested in a third term. He even encouraged others to seek nomination instead. But he carefully crafted his words so that he never ruled himself out completely. As the convention began, Roosevelt withdrew, making his absence felt.

Reports came back to him that people on the floor were beginning to clamor for him to appear. Letting that desire reach its peak, the president then had his friend Senator Alben Barkley insert into his own convention speech a message from Roosevelt: “The president has never had, and has not today, any desire or purpose to continue in the office of president, to be a candidate for that office, or to be nominated by the convention for that office.” After a moment of silence, the convention floor began to ring with the delegates’ cry: “WE WANT ROOSEVELT!” The appeal went on for an hour. The next day the delegates were to vote, and chants of “ROOSEVELT!” again filled the hall. The president’s name was entered for the nomination, and he won by a landslide on the first ballot.

Never seem too eager for wealth or power, you will not be popular this way. Be passive and make others come to you instead.

An attempt to bend people to your will is a form of aggression, but the world has political considerations that should be taken seriously. The best form of aggression is hidden. Seem to go along with people, do not resist, but in reality, control the situation.

Passive aggression is a popular strategy; you must learn how to defend yourself against the vast legions of passive-aggressive warriors who will assail you in your daily life.

Read The 33 Strategies of War

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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