Tuesday, August 08, 2006

We have gained the initiative

In chess, gaining the initiative (hat-tip to DG) is the act of making a bold move that forces the opponent to play defensively. It's an accepted generalization that if both players are of equal strength then the best black can do is draw; by definition black is a reactionary player since white makes the first move. Thus as the underdog, it's extremely important that Democrats gain initiative if they want to define the political battleground, even internally. The GOP may be bad at governance, but they're terrific at winning elections, and this has more to do with skillful gameplay than it does their inherent approval by Americans.

Ned Lamont has gained the initiative on Lieberman, forcing Lieberman to distance himself from Bush in a belated attempt to represent his constituents' distaste for the war in Iraq. The Democratic party needs to recognize that this race is a message from their base, a hitherto recently unengaged bloc from a very liberal state. Energizing the base is key to winning elections, period.

My thoughts were spurred by this surprise: the GOP is watching this race carefully, and they don't know quite yet how to capitalize on either outcome. The fact that they are responding to Democratic momentum shows just how vulnerable they are, and is a far cry from the hubris they have shown the past 12 years. Let's maintain the tempo and return the Democratic Party - and Congress - to the people of our great country.


DG said...

Actually your definition "making a bold move that forces the opponent to play defensively" is a better description of gaining the initiative. Tempo generally refers to the concept of time. So for example, time is gained when you sacrifice a pawn for development or where a player is forced to recapture with an already developed piece while you get the opportunity to keep developing.

Texas Hippie said...

Ahh, yes you are correct. I'm a bit rusty since it's been 8 years since I played competitively. It looks like you're still competitive by your profile, so I certainly stand corrected! Thanks for your remarks.

Now if only I had time to get back in the game....