Politics Is Impossible When Everyone Just Keeps Yelling At Each Other

American politics has been reduced to a charade where all people do is yell at each other.

A. Barton Hinkle has determined definitively what’s wrong with our country, it’s all those people who disagree with us:

The past several weeks have made one thing crystal-clear: Our country faces unmitigated disaster if the Other Side wins.

No reasonably intelligent person can deny this. All you have to do is look at the way the Other Side has been running its campaign. Instead of focusing on the big issues that are important to the American People, it has fired a relentlessly negative barrage of distortions, misrepresentations, and flat-out lies.

Just look at the Other Side’s latest commercial, which take a perfectly reasonable statement by the candidate for My Side completely out of context to make it seem as if he is saying something nefarious. This just shows you how desperate the Other Side is and how willing it is to mislead the American People.

The Other Side also has been hammering away at My Side to release certain documents that have nothing to do with anything, and making all sorts of outrageous accusations about what might be in them. Meanwhile, the Other Side has stonewalled perfectly reasonable requests to release its own documents that would expose some very embarrassing details if anybody ever found out what was in them. This just shows you what a bunch of hypocrites they are.

Naturally, the media won’t report any of this. Major newspapers and cable networks jump all over anything they think will make My Side look bad. Yet they completely ignore critically important and incredibly relevant information that would be devastating to the Other Side if it could ever be verified.

Ramesh Ponnuru agrees:

I can’t stand the people on your side. Not you, particularly. You’re fine. It’s your side that’s ruining everything great about this country.

Your side lies shamelessly. Your leaders just make things up. And you just follow them blindly, like sheep — like blind sheep. You hang out with people who think just like you, and listen only to shows where you’ll hear your own views repeated. It’s an echo chamber of lies!

That’s how your side wins elections. It whips gullible people into a frenzy about supposed threats to their freedoms and livelihoods, and it deceives everyone else into thinking it’s more moderate than it really is. Once the election is over, though, your side starts pushing its extreme agenda behind the scenes.

When your side wins an election, you make out the president to be some sort of messenger from God. Nothing he does can be wrong. It doesn’t matter how big a hypocrite he is. He can campaign on bringing us together and then do nothing but divide us when he gets in — but you don’t mind. When our side wins, on the other hand, the president has to be personally trashed and accused of the most monstrous crimes.

Your side stirs up hate against the people on my side. The horrible signs your people hold up at their protests, the venom your spokesmen spew on television: It’s scary. I wonder how you can go through life with all that anger inside you.

Your side is simplistic. You never stop and think things through. That’s how you end up with your ridiculously inconsistent positions on abortion and the death penalty. You even fight against legislation that would make your own life better! How crazy is that?

Honestly, I don’t know whether to be sorry for you or mad. Sometimes I wish we could just free you from these awful leaders and their dumb ideas. Sometimes I wish all the people on your side would just secede and form your own country.

Obviously, both of these pieces are meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but in their sarcasm they are a fairly accurate representation of what passes for political discourse in this country. It isn’t enough to say that you think a person is wrong, either in their facts or in the premises, one must also question the motives, the sanity, the intelligence, and indeed even the loyalty of one’s opponents. It gets worse when political debate takes place on the Internet, where relative anonymity tends to cause political rhetoric to become more heated, and more personal. One need only peruse a political “debate” on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comment threads of the blogosphere to see confirmation of that back. It’s not limited to the Internet, though, one can find similar rhetoric on cable “news” on a daily basis, particularly on the two networks that have adopted as a business model the practice of pandering to the particular political biases of their viewers at the expense of either accuracy or an enlightening discussion of political issues that takes all sides of a debate into account.

If this polarization and demonization were merely limited to the Internet and cable, it would be one thing, but that’s not what happens. For one thing, the debates that occur online and in the news media drive the political culture, and lead politicians to mimic the rapid partisanship of the people that elect them to office. For another, it appears that partisanship has even become a factor in who we choose to maintain personal relationships with:

The old saw of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer stops short at partisan relationships. Only 1 in 10 Republicans say most of their friends and family are Democrats, according to a new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Just as few Democrats — 10 percent — admit to palling around with members of the opposing team. To put this in starker terms, two-thirds of partisans say most of their friends and family are of the same political persuasion.

This affinity for like-minded relationships — almost identical to a similar survey in 2009 — hints at the feedback loop most partisan Americans live in: One with few opportunities for confronting political differences and a lot of team reinforcement.

The phenomenon isn’t as pronounced among Independents or people who cling to their partisan identity only loosely, but for those who are what we would call “Rapid Republicans” or “Yellow Dog Democrats,” it would appear that it’s less and less common to socialize with people who hold different political opinions. Personally, I’ve never quite understood this phenomenon. I’ve had friends over the years with varying political beliefs, some of them quite the opposite of mine. Sometimes, we talked, or argued, politics, but most of the time we didn’t, because there’s more to life than politics and losing friends over something so relatively trivial as an election strikes me as really rather silly. Then again, I suppose I’m really more of an Independent than a someone who’s heavily partisan, so I suppose that makes sense. The lesson from this phenomenon, though, is that it’s easy to demonize the people you disagree with when you rarely interact with them other than when you’re having highly charged political arguments.

Ponnuru starts his piece with this quote from the Alexis de Tocqueville’s great survey of early America, Democracy In America:

“The period which immediately precedes an election, and that during which the election is taking place, must always be considered as a national crisis. … As the election draws near, the activity of intrigue and the agitation of the populace increase; the citizens are divided into hostile camps, each of which assumes the name of its favorite candidate; the whole nation glows with feverish excitement.”

de Tocqueville was right then, of course, and what he observed nearly 200 years ago remains true today. The difference, I think, is that it seems like we’re eternally in that “period which immediately precedes an election.” There’s never seems to be a break between one campaign and the next, indeed, there is already speculation being traded about what might happen in 2016 when we still haven’t voted in the 2012 election. The partisanship never cools down, not for a second, and the vindictive attacks between the people engaged in the battle continues to intensify to the point where it impedes the ability of politicians to actually do what they were supposedly elected to do. As long as that continues, we’re just going to continue yelling at each other and not getting anything done.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2012, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Modulo Myself says:

    This is really stupid. Anyone who follows political blogs will note that there are tons of former Republicans who now sound exactly like liberals when they talk about the Republican Party. The reverse is simply not true.

    People like Ponnuru, a guy who wrote a book called The Party of Death , or some guy who writes for Reason, are now going to be really into the Everyone is Bad argument for the simple reason that they have nothing else to say.

  2. mattb says:

    It isn’t enough to say that you think a person is wrong, either in their facts or in the premises, one must also question the motives, the sanity, the intelligence, and indeed even the loyalty of one’s opponents.

    Again, I think this goes back to a sense of victimization that proponents on both sides cultivate in largely closed echo chambers.

    To reveal my bias, I do think that the current phase of this tribalism was ushered in by the 20+ year rise of right wing, populist broadcast media. But it’s clear that even if that side “started it,” progressives have risen to the challenge.

    The net result is an environment (described above) where either side losing any ground is tantamount to “the end of the US as we know it.” And it’s not just policy ground — we’re really approaching a point where even conceeding a point to the other side has become a step too far.

  3. MBunge says:

    Once again, the question is who and what is responsible for such a state of affairs. You can’t fix a problem unless you can acknowledge what’s causing it.

    Mike

  4. al-Ameda says:

    Doug, we’re (America) in a bad place as far as our political culture goes.

    We’ve decided as a nation that virtually everything that characterizes us – in religion, education background, in school choice, in where we choose to live, preferences in lifestyle activity, in food, wine, travel … everything – is on the partisan divide.

    I can only attest to my experience. Among my friends, I’m an anomaly because I actually know many conservatives – they’re my direct family, extended family, and friends of family (many police and firefighters.) In my own family (father was in law enforcement, I have 4 brothers, 4 sisters) only 2 of us are liberal, and it is nearly impossible to have a reasoned discussion about any important issue. Even when it starts out as a ‘local issue’ like a nearby public school, it moves quickly to hispanic students, illegals, liberal teachers and so forth, and it’s always a barrage of talking point opinions. I can deal with it because it’s family, but really it wears you out.

  5. Console says:

    Ponnuru… seriously? The guy that wrote a book called “the party of death?”

  6. Modulo Myself says:

    P.s.

    These arguments are basically those of a classic con man.

    “Your suspicions of me are a mark of the common ailment that I wish to cure you of. Why not by my anti-suspicion tonic, dear sir? Why do you let these demons rule your life?”

  7. Small quibble, but Independents and independents are different things. The first is a named party, and not quite the same as non-alignment.

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    You know what will solve this? Unlimited anonymous campaign commercials paid for by shadowy, unknown billionaires.

    It’s hard to take Doug’s whines about the lack of civility seriously when he has no problem with the above. If you allow the rich to buy elections, this is what you’re going to get.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    The solution is, the next time a group of States wants to secede from the Union – let them go.

  10. Console says:

    I’m definitely not a fan of cynical detachment as a pathway to reasonableness. If two sides are starting with very different axioms, then nothing is gained by pretending the other side is equally valid. There is no logical middle ground to be had. Sure you can make up a middle ground (let’s make a stimulus bill… but make it as small as we can) but you throw logic out the window.

    At what point does something like the tea party and the debt ceiling fiasco scare you? At what point do you realize competence isn’t a default for elected members of government (see: the war in Iraq). This cynical posturing eventually does hit real world problems. Civility doesn’t change the fact that politics genuinely affects people.

  11. Let’s go out on a limb and say that this noisy contest results in a Republican loss. What will the do? Optimistic liberals and pessimistic conservatives think that the GOP will just double down on the crazy. But that’s not optimum strategy. They should shift, chose something in their own platform they can break, to move the center over, to make it a 55:45 world in their favor.

    What did the stats on Morning Joe say? That party approval ratings (for the parties themselves, viewed by the general population) was 36% positive for Republicans and 49% positive for the Democrats. Something like that.

    That’s what they’ve got to fix.

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: So, we agree that George Soros is bad for politics. Glad we found that common ground.

  13. BTW, if those stats are right, 36% positive for Republicans and 49% positive for the Democrat, then:

    We live in a center-left country.

    … as the Republicans have forced the definition, changed the meaning of “right.”

  14. @Modulo Myself:

    Anyone who follows political blogs will note that there are tons of former Republicans who now sound exactly like liberals when they talk about the Republican Party.

    As one of said former Republicans, it should be noted that my growing distates has not resulted in a growing affection for the Democrats.

  15. Scott says:

    I think I have mentioned this before but, in my social group, there is a wide range of political and religious views. It is rare that any of them are discussed. There is an unspoken rule of silence because I think that all know how flammable these things are. If there is a breaking of the rules, then somebody subtlely turns a shoulder and changes the subject (sports is the best alternative among the guys). I think everybody agrees that friends and family are more important than politics. I don’t know whether this will ever change but I hope so.

  16. @Stormy Dragon:

    As one of said former Republicans, it should be noted that my growing distates has not resulted in a growing affection for the Democrats.

    That’s too bad, because increasingly “all the moderates are belong to them.” Sure, you can find some policy not on the table to worry about, but if you want pragmatism in action, you have to go to the Dems.

    (says the small-i independent)

  17. Put differently, Republicans have been voting RINOs off the island for years. What did they think would happen?

  18. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Meh. The righteous indignation of the academic-minded (plus inexperiened and cocooned) chattering classes is amusing at one level but ultimately it misses the boat. Plenty of things can get done when the two sides are shouting at each other. There’s a difference between the window dressing and what goes on inside the room.

    In the 1990’s the two sides literally despised each other, but yet they accomplished major welfare reform, major death penalty and habeas reforms, major tax reforms, major reforms to criminal laws and procedures, and various other significant, albeit underreported, items of note. Of course NAFTA also was implemented.

    Same holds true for the 1980’s. Democrats on The Hill and the media hated Reagan with passions, but still a number of fundamental items were accomplished, not all of them good, but still you can’t say that nothing got done. There were major tax reforms. We had an illegal immigration amnesty. There were significant deregulations. Social Security received a facelift.

    Things really “changed” in the 00’s. Starting in ’00. Specifically in late-2000. Several weeks after that election. Connect . . . the . . . dots.

  19. legion says:

    A significant part of this is because, some years back, the Republican party explicitly chose not just to _disagree_ with Democrats, but to actively _demonize_ them. This is what happens when you make religion a foundational part of your politics: anyone who disagrees with you – on even the smallest point of dogma – is no longer simply someone to “agree to disagree” with, but someone who is by definition EEEEEVIL. It’s simply not possible to have a debate about ideas or even a respectful disagreement with a group of people who have adopted this philosophy.

    So yes, it’s something both sides are doing _now_, but it’s a path the Republicans – and no one else – specifically chose to put this country on.

  20. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “They should shift, chose something in their own platform they can break, to move the center over, to make it a 55:45 world in their favor.”

    The problem with that theory is it assumes that the GOP doesn’t by-and-large believe in their own platform. If there are enough true believers in the party infrastructure, however, you can’t defy them without creating an intra-party civil war, something that in the short run looks and feels a lot worse than a projected future of electoral defeats.

    This is essentially the thing that McCarthy based his fear campaign on. Once you let subversives sufficiently entangle themselves in an institution, it becomes almost impossible to root them out without practically destroying what you’re trying to save.

    Mike

  21. David M says:

    How do you discuss health care reform with someone that thinks Obamacare makes the deficit worse?

    How do you discuss Medicare with someone who think having it spend more money will improve it’s finances?

    How do you discuss foreign policy with someone that thinks there were WMD and al-Qaeda in Iraq?

    How do you discuss the 2009 stimulus with someone that thinks it raised tax rates?

    How do you discuss options for climate change with someone who denies it exists?

    How do you discuss the deficit with someone who believes lower tax revenue does not affect it?

  22. grumpy realist says:

    I wonder how much of this is egged on by the media, who love horse races.

    I’d prefer to go back to the Austrian Politics way of doing things: shove the politician up in front of a microphone and have him blether on about his platform for as long as he wants. Filmed in black and white. Repeat with the opposition. That’s it. No ads, nothing else.

  23. Modulo Myself says:

    @legion:

    I think everything wrong with the GOP goes back to the fact that the party is composed almost entirely of religious and economic fundamentalists.

    As anyone who has ever debated an intelligent creationist or a intelligent design whatever, this is how every conversation ends.

  24. Rafer Janders says:

    I often fail to understand where this demand for civility comes from. You know what? People disagree. Quite strongly. These issues are often quite literally a matter of life and death, and will have consequences decades from now. Why shouldn’t we have strong disagrements? Why should we pretend none of this really matters?

  25. Moosebreath says:

    Tsar Nicholas,

    “Starting in ’00. Specifically in late-2000. Several weeks after that election. Connect . . . the . . . dots.”

    I think you have the wrong starting point. The Administration of Bush the Younger passed several significant laws, from 2 rounds of tax cuts to No Child Left Behind to Medicare Part D. None of them had zero support from the other party. It’s only in the Obama Administration when this happened.

  26. Barry says:

    Doug, this article is a variation on calling Krugman ‘shrill’, after he turned out to be right time after time after time.

    It wasn’t both sides who were talking about ‘legitimate rapes’ causing woman’s reproductive systems to shut down.

    It isn’t both sides putting out things like the Ryan plan, and it isn’t both sides calling him ‘sincere’, while overlooking the dishonesty.

    There is no Niall Ferguson on the left.

    There is no Akin on the left.

    And so on.

  27. Moderate Mom says:

    As difficult as it is to believe reading the comments on political blogs, but many of us maintain large circles of friends with widely divergent political views and beliefs. Somehow we manage to continue to have these friendships, despite our political differences, because in the great scheme of life, those differences don’t really matter. What does matter is how we treat each other in real life. What doesn’t matter is how much hate and invective we can anonymously hurl at those with which we disagree while on comment boards.

    In my most ardent liberal days, I met a woman who has become one of my best friends. At the time, she was sporting a “Don’t Blame Me – I Voted For Bush” bumper sticker on the back of her Volvo station wagon. We agreed to disagree. During most of George W.’s eight years in office, I had a “I Miss Bill” sticker on the back of my Suburban. Once again, we agreed to disagree. Instead, over those sixteen years, we chose to instead focus on the things we had in common and the things we admired about each other, and it served us well. We have a friendship of almost twenty years and, no matter who the President is in any year in the future, I’d hazard a guess that we’ll still be friends until one of us dies.

  28. Hoot Gibson says:

    legion inadvertently creates the hoot of the day with the comment that “the Republican party explicitly choose not just _to_disagree with Democrats, but to actively_demonize_them.”

    I can’t stop laughing!

    All my life (and before) the Democrats have waged a Fear & Smear campaign against the GOP as the party:

    1. That wants granny to eat dog food

    2. That wants to return to the days of back alley coathanger abortions

    3. That wants to go back to lynch mobs

    4. That wants to reinstate the draft

    5. That wants to return to Robber Baron days with “no rules” for business, etc.

    It’s cute and interesting that the Dems want to cast themselves as the whining victim party, but the idea that it is only the GOP that “demonizes” The Other is laughable.

    Step up your game or go back to Kos and TPM.

    Such intellectual dishonesty needs to be mocked and derided early and often.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Things really “changed” in the 00′s.

    You weren’t around in the ’80s or ’90s, were you Tsar?

    Nobody “hated” Reagan, nobody “demonized” him. Disagree? Yes Thought him a little loopy? Yes. But you know why he wasn’t impeached for Iran/Contra? Because we all thought it was possible he really didn’t know anything about it. And that is not something the GOP should be proud of.

    But when Clinton got elected…. Where do I start? Vince Foster, Whitewater, Troopergate, the Whitehouse FBI files controversy, 1996 United States campaign finance controversy, and of course Monica Lewinsky. All the mud the GOP threw at them and the only thing that stuck was yeah, he is a heal of a husband and he lied about it…. Which of course guaranteed him an acquittal in the Senate because most of them were lying heals who cheated on their wives too.

    Not that Clinton is any kind of paragon of sainthood, but at least he didn’t order anyone to be tortured.

  30. Jib says:

    I love the media whinning about something the media created. Its a win-win for them.

    The media knows that crisis and fear increases ratings and page views. And the broadcast media has a set number of hours to fill every day, regardless of what is going on. They could fill that time with stories and guests talking about what we all have in common and the 80% that we all agree on that needs to be done. But their ratings would suck. So they report on the 20% we disagree on and the more extreme the disagreement, the better.

    What they really focus on is like the 2% of the most extreme areas. Now in a time of the worse economic crisis since the great depression, a time when extreme wealth has concentrated into the hands of the smallest % of our population in our history and the middle class has shrunk to being less than 50% of the population (these 2 facts are linked, while the pie can grow for every one over time, the pie is fixed when it is sliced up and if one group is going to get a lot larger % of the total than they ever have before, someone is going to get less, a lot of someones in this case) what are we debating? If women how have been raped should be forced to carry the baby, something way more than 80% of the american people agree should not happen.

    Rating will always drive the media and so we will always get from the media politics as Jersey Shore. I am optimistic though, I do think the problem is overwhelmingly with broadcast media and the influence of broadcast media is waning. The young consume very little while the elderly swim in it. I do think that as time goes on, we will see this get some what better as the aging boomers and their endless fighting about Vietnam and the damn hippies die off.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    1. That wants granny to eat dog food

    2. That wants to return to the days of back alley coathanger abortions

    3. That wants to go back to lynch mobs

    4. That wants to reinstate the draft

    5. That wants to return to Robber Baron days with “no rules” for business, etc.

    Actually, I have only heard #4 from those on the left, as to everything else… well they will be the eventual results of the rights proposed policies. Oh also you forgot, #6 Tax cuts for the rich funded by the decimation of Medicare and Medicaid.
    And yes, you really are a hoot.

  32. KariQ says:

    Completely off the beaten track of this thread, but I remember reading de Tocqueville for the first time in college and thinking it was amazing that a book written 150 years ago could so accurately describe the country as it was then. Today, I am even more impressed with his achievement. I think if someone really wants to understand this country, the first thing they should do is read Democracy in America.

  33. Commonist says:

    The right is screaming: “YOU HATE THIS COUNTRY AND TAXES ARE ALMOST AT 90 % AND EVERYONE ARE ON WELFARE AND CLIMATE CHANGE IS A HOAX AND GAYS ARE SUBHUMANS AND ZYGOTES ARE PEOPLE AND OBAMACARE IS WORSE THAN THE HOLOCAUST.”

    The left is screaming: “YOU ARE ALL F***ING RETARDED AND WE HATE YOU.”

    Doug is shouting: “I AM A USELESS CHATTERBOX!”

  34. Septimius says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    “The evil is in the White House at the present time. And that evil is a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations of America, and who likes to ride a horse. He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood.”

    House Speaker Tip O’Neill, 1984

    Yep, nobody demonized Reagan.

  35. rudderpedals says:

    I remember vilifying Reagan. At the time I blamed him for cutting off the soc sec survivors bennies I counted on, hated him for bringing Nixon retreads back into govt, noted he intellectually died from the shooting, didn’t think he really ran the show and hated the ratcheting up tensions to the extent that draft age me might be nuked sitting in some troop ship on the way to war in Europe.

    Time hasn’t softened the opinion.

  36. Rob in CT says:

    If you check out the antebellum era, you will find a key similarity: people essentially existed in different realities. Newspapers were partisan organs, with no attempt at being objective, fair, balanced, etc. They printed some craaaaazy sh*t. So, if you were so inclined (and most people seem to be), you could get your news from one side only (in some areas, you likely had no choice in the matter).

    Today, you can do this too. And I think this feeds on itself. Controversy (aka screaming at each other) sells. So does preaching to the choir (includes fiery denunciations of the bad guys).

    I think ther are other parallels to the 1850s as well. Now, as then, American Conservatives strongly believed that they were staring down their last best chance at staving off a disasterous change in the direction of the country. The reaction today is comparatively muted. As it should be, considering that the change that worried the Fire Breathers of the Old South was far more significant than, say, moving toward a single-payer healthcare system.

  37. Rob in CT says:

    @Rob in CT:

    If all that sounds a bit complacent, well… I was re-reading The Battle Cry of Freedom last night and am in a “hey, at least it’s not 1860” sort of mood.

  38. Rob in CT says:

    Now, as to the specific argument that you can’t get anything done if you’re screaming at each other…

    Well, I don’t think it’s that simple. Reagan and Tip O’Neill managed to hammer out some deals. I don’t know the truth of it, but I’ve read that they were personally cordial (“it’s all politics before 6PM”).

    I don’t know what the secret is, but I don’t think civility is it (or, at least, all of it). Does do compromise because you & your opponent are civil? Or do you compromise because you and your opponent are realistic?

  39. george says:

    @Console:

    I’m definitely not a fan of cynical detachment as a pathway to reasonableness. If two sides are starting with very different axioms, then nothing is gained by pretending the other side is equally valid. There is no logical middle ground to be had. Sure you can make up a middle ground (let’s make a stimulus bill… but make it as small as we can) but you throw logic out the window.

    That would be true if political truth were binary. But I think a better description would not be that both sides are equally valid, but that both sides are equally invalid.

    Basically, if one side is saying force equals mass squared times acceleration, and the other is saying force equals mass times acceleration squared (F=m^2a or F=ma^2), you’re going to get nonsense no matter which side you choose. And there’s no energy left to look for someone saying F=ma.

  40. legion says:

    @Hoot Gibson: I have been a moderate my whole life – I’ve voted for whoever made the most sense at the time – sometimes an ‘R’, sometimes a ‘D’ (not many ‘I’s or ‘L’s to choose from where I live). I don’t recall hearing “smears” like that growing up, but I can show you specific Republican policies that directly lead to each of those outcomes, including the one about lynch mobs (albeit for gays, mexicans, and muslims rather than just blacks).

  41. legion says:

    You think I’m joking – but here’s two items just from today:
    1 – This one was already on OTB earlier today; a sitting county judge in Texas stating that if Obama is re-elected, not only does he expect an armed revolution to occur when Obama tries “…to give the sovereignty of the United States away to the United Nations.” but he is preparing to be a direct part of that armed insurrection, to the point of recruiting other county officials, including the local sheriff, to his cause.
    2 – Here’s another great one – a Republican candidate for sheriff in New Hampshire is actually pledging to do “anything necessary” – including using deadly force – to prevent doctors from performing abortions in his jurisdiction. Even though abortions are legal there. This guys says abortions are “legal, but not lawful” and he will take it on himself to stop them.

    I defy you, Hoot. I defy you to find me people on the left that are this violently insane. That are taken seriously by _anyone_. That are viable candidates for any office or actual, sitting Judges. Go ahead. Prove me wrong.

  42. swbarnes2 says:

    @george:

    Basically, if one side is saying force equals mass squared times acceleration, and the other is saying force equals mass times acceleration squared (F=m^2a or F=ma^2), you’re going to get nonsense no matter which side you choose. And there’s no energy left to look for someone saying F=ma.

    So one side, supported by decades of research data, says global warming is a problem, the other side says “No it’s not, you just hate prosperity, and see, it gets cold in the winter!”, and one should conclude both sides are equally bad?

    One side says that gay people are trying to undermine America, the other says that gay marriage is only fair, and both sides are equally wrong? Really?

  43. sam says:

    @Septimius:

    Ah, well, Bob Dole was on a tear:

    History buffs probably noted the reunion at a Washington party a few weeks ago of three ex-presidents: Carter, Ford and Nixon – See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Evil.

  44. An Interested Party says:

    So, we agree that George Soros is bad for politics. Glad we found that common ground.

    Except, of course, that Soros is neither anonymous nor shadowy nor unknown nor has he ever spent unlimited amounts of money…nice try, though…

    Step up your game or go back to Kos and TPM.

    That’s rather rich coming from someone who crawled out from under his slimy rock at RedState or Ace of Spades to spread his filthy disinformation here…

  45. Facebones says:

    The problem is that it is impossible to have a conversation if the two sides have no common ground.

    How do you have a rational conversation about the environment if one side believes that global warming is a myth created by liberals to destroy business, in spite of 99.9% of the world’s scientists saying otherwise?

    How do you debate health care with one side screaming “socialism!” and “death panels!” and cheers at the thought of uninsured people dying?

    How do you debate gun control when one side believes that Obama is secretly trying to ban all handguns and that the recent gun tragedies were engineered by the president?

    How do you debate immigration when one side believe the president is foreign born?

    If we start from the position that global warming is real and a solution is needed, we can debate the answer. If we agree that 30 million uninsured people is a problem we can look at different ways to get them health coverage. But unless both sides acknowledge the existence of a problem and that a solution is needed, there can’t be a discussion. There will only be false equivalencies and hand wringing from the media.

  46. george says:

    @swbarnes2:

    So one side, supported by decades of research data, says global warming is a problem, the other side says “No it’s not, you just hate prosperity, and see, it gets cold in the winter!”, and one should conclude both sides are equally bad?

    One side says that gay people are trying to undermine America, the other says that gay marriage is only fair, and both sides are equally wrong? Really?

    So both sides say its fine to bomb people in places like Iraq and Pakistan (check the votes over the years), or think that public health care (instead of some strange forced insurance) isn’t worth fighting for, or that spending more on the military than the next three largest militaries combined is a good thing, or think that its a good idea to spend billions on a war against drugs that only results in the highest incarceration rate and huge profits for drug lords.

    Its pretty easy to cherry pick issues. I bet I can come up with more where they both come up with the same nonsense, though for ostensibly different reasons, than you can where they differ.

    So neither side think there’s any real reason for some sort of gun control,

  47. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @An Interested Party: Except, of course, that Soros is neither anonymous nor shadowy nor unknown nor has he ever spent unlimited amounts of money…nice try, though…

    Soros’ spending is pretty shadowy, through some seriously interlocking groups and cutouts and whatnot. It takes a lot of digging through legally-required public filings to trace them all.

    Just who did you have in mind, anyway?

  48. Ken says:

    Good news everyone!

    We now have at least two additional instances of right wingers letting us know – at length and in no uncertain terms – that BOTH SIDES ARE BAD.

    I’d like to thank Doug for straying so far from his usual schtick to bring us this controversial message