Reflections on Politics as Civil War by Other Means

Today’s GOP threatens the Republic in two distinct but linked ways: by pushing the envelope with respect to the political process – both in the use of obstruction and in attempting to cement themselves in power by corrupting the electoral process with money and disenfranchisement – and by routinely using violent “patriots-and-tyrants” rhetoric.

Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice, writing from the Lion Gate at Mycenae, offers some Homeric reflections on the over-the-top rhetoric and its practical consequences. And that was before RNC Chair Reince Priebus’s latest outburst: “We have to put an end to this Barack Obama presidency before it puts an end to our way of life in America.”

Just once, I’d like a reporter to ask Mitt Romney whether he wants to disagree with any of this crap.

Footnote If I sometimes fail in courtesy and patience toward the firebaggers, this is why. Politics ain’t beanbag: right now, it’s perilously close to civil war waged by other means.

The problem is that the Red understands the stakes and is standing by its man, while important elements of the Blue team are … otherwise occupied.

Yes, yes, I know: “lacking all conviction” is evidence of superior understanding, while only the worst are “full of passionate intensity.” But surely there must be some comfortable middle ground between threatening violence if your side loses and sulking in your tent.

To choose this moment of all moments to parade, as a virtue, one’s superiority to the practical need to win the damned election seems to me evidence of what Lenin – whose morals would make him a good fit for today’s Republican apparat, but who was a keen political observer – called “an infantile disorder.”

If you absolutely can’t resist the impulse to say that Bain Capital’s version of vulture capitalism is simply the exercise of Schumpeterian creative destruction and that all the people whose jobs Mitt Romney shipped to China – and whose pensions he welsched on – have no kick coming, for Christ’s sweet sake say it with equations in the Quarterly Review of Political Econometrica, not on bloggingheads.

This one’s for keeps, folks.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.