“But What if We Didn’t?” – Why Enmity and Outrage is the New Normal

I came across this posting via Jim Grey’s Recommended Reading column for today  He linked to John Scalzi’s post entitled “But What if We Didn’t?” – and that has cleared the confusion as to why the American Congress has gone from attempting to work together to tearing each other apart.

When Ronald Reagan was President, he and Tip O’Neillc ould get along.


I will leave you to ponder what Scalzi writes – and strongly suggest you Scalzi’s post in its entirety by clicking on the link above or anywhere on the quotation below:

I have a theory about the Republican Party, and it is that around the time Newt Gingrich became the head of its brain trust, the GOP added a fourth functioning principle to its previous tripod of “Southern Strategy to corner the racist vote,” “Abortion to corner the Evangelical vote” and “Tax cuts to corner the capitalist vote (and money).” The fourth principle was not about kettling and controlling a voting bloc, but rather a principle to maximize its power and to motivate the voting blocs beyond whatever the GOP could offer them politically.

That fourth principle, to put it in its shortest and bluntest form, is:

“But what if we… didn’t?”

Somewhat more broadly, the Republicans recognized there was a suite of political conventions and traditions that were designed to make it easier for things to get done, and that this suite of conventions and traditions were exploitable by denial. While people in both parties (and the parties themselves) would occasionally use this exploit, it was not done systematically.


15 thoughts on ““But What if We Didn’t?” – Why Enmity and Outrage is the New Normal”

  1. Thanks for speaking up -N. I didn’t blog on Wednesday or Thursday because I just couldn’t put my hands on the keyboard and act like nothing happened. I’ve never put politics in my social media posts or blog posts. We need to heal this divided country and soon. We can’t continue politics as usual.

  2. Anne, I understand about not putting politics on the blog, but the fact is, being an ostrich (my usual norm) about it doesn’t do anyone any good. I admire writers who make their statements.

    The fact is, we have failed this country by creating – actively creating – this divisiveness. This is just what “those dirty commies” want(ed). We are destroying ourselves.

    People fail to learn from history. As we are primarily a “Western civilization” (that civility is dwindling), I always think of Europe . . . in the 1920s Hitler was a funny looking guy; in 1933 he took over Germany; in 1945 Germany lay in ruins. The Marshall Act saved Europe from itself, and the Britons saved Europe in the early days of WW2.

    Today, N Korea, mainland China, and Russia are happily watching as the US, which is no longer very well united, tears itself apart.

  3. You are so right. But it’s hard to pull you head out of a hole you’ve buried it in for so long. Personally, I’m pretty vocal about my concern for our country, etc. This started long before Trump (I’ve never been able to call him a president.) He’s a symptom, not the disease.

  4. Anne, I am pretty opinionated, and I make my comments, but my family tells me to politely shut up! I get it as it is an emotional subject for so many of us. The problem is when emotions become unbridled and violence takes over. That is not the answer, especially today with guns and bombs and too much information on how to make destruction very, very noticeable. It is hard for us to look at revolutionary activities in our normally isolated and orderly country, boo hoo about non-democratic autocracies, but not look in our own back yard. We are moving into that direction if these rioters have their way, if the monster in the WH got re-elected, and the sycophants kept kissing ass. To see state reps leading the charge is disgusting – and hypocritical as they are failing to uphold their oaths, which evidently mean nothing to some.

    Back to painting and sewing and domestic goddessness!

  5. Sad times, Anne, but they could be worse. Thanks for sharing my tears – but a the same time, much joy to be had in family and friends, the freedom to say what needs to be said, good health, and the little daily pleasures, such as sewing, painting, photography, and a beautiful day! xox Oh, forgot a good cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate. 😉 Silly me!

  6. Well, since you did put this up here, N — The commenter you quote has his history and politics somewhat garbled. It is simply not true that all the racists left the Democrats and became Republicans with Nixon. Plenty of them remained D until the end of their days. The South did not swing consistently R until decades later, and the reasons are not racism. Mr. Biden, among many others, in years gone by, made statements about the pride he had in his state, Delaware, having supported the Confederacy, and how wonderful Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.VA., was. And if you examine who got the lion’s share of big corporate money this time around, it wasn’t Republicans.

    Mr. Scalzi omits to note that Democrats do things for crass political power as well. This is bipartisan behavior. I consider their tacit and explicit support for the very destructive rioting of this summer and fall as a case in point. And the main point which he misses is that there are, on both sides of the partisan divide, principles in which honest partisans believe. If you examine what Democrats and Republicans stand for these days (avoiding all the acrimony and looking at actual policy positions), over the past three decades or so Democrats have moved sharply left, whereas Republicans have stayed relatively the same. So, for the honest politicians, and I hope there are some, they can’t work together to “get things done” because they disagree on what ought to be done.

  7. As to Congress members “violating their oaths” by objecting to the vote count: Democrats have objected, in Congress, to the Electoral College votes, just as Republicans did this year, in 2001, 2005, and 2017. They have the constitutional right to do this. They did not violate their oaths or commit “sedition,” unless you think the Democrats who objected to G.W. Bush and Trump also were seditious.

    We’re going to disagree as to the basis for those objections, and this year’s objections, but the process is in the Constitution.

  8. Kathy, no party is perfect, but IMO history shows that the Republican party has increasingly failed to work with people, ie Democrats, in order to fulfill their agenda. As a result of the win-only approach, nothing gets done. Compromise is rare, and this is what Scalzi is focused on – the word NO.

  9. Violent protests, left or right, that promote the overthrow of the government is treason. No other president has fomented what we saw on 1/6. Yes, Congress can challenge votes, but not with a riot and threats of overthrowing the government, killing members of Congress, and so on. The violence is, again, the focal point. Everyone is entitled to disagree, but no one has the right to riot with the aim to kill and destroy. Those who rioted and hold elected office are guilty of sedition if they joined to overthrow the government. They can protest in their elected position following regulations, but they cannot willfully and wantonly work to overthrow through violence.

  10. N, despite what you are being told, he did not foment violence. Like the summer riots, the vast majority of those people outside the Capitol were protesting peacefully. They did not riot or threaten to overthrow the government. I know people who were there and have said that the crowd was overwhelmingly peaceful. I personally think, given almost a year of leftist violence, that the rally that day was not wise. People are very, very upset. But nothing that was said called for violence or overthrowing the government.

    A small number, compared to the total, did break into the Capitol. No elected Republican official, from the president on down, has condoned or excused that. If you can find one that did, let me know. People who committed violence are being identified and prosecuted, with the full cooperation and approval of the current administration. This wasn’t an attempt to overthrow the government; a more inept and stupid attempt could not be imagined. Investigations are underway as to why the Capitol Police refused assistance from federal law enforcement. The head of the Capitol Police has resigned. Perhaps because conservative protests are generally peaceful, they didn’t think anything would happen. There are even videos of some of the people being allowed into the Capitol like ordinary protesters, the sort of thing that happened in Congress during the Kavanaugh hearing, where people were shouting in the halls and galleries and chasing senators. (I disapproved of that, and I would not have gone in with the idiots who did so on Wednesday.)

    I can give you an example from just this past summer. After the riots broke out nationwide, Republican senators put together a police reform package, to outlaw above-the-neck holds and no-knock drug raids. (I support both of those proposals.) It was a decent package and included some provisions designed to draw Democrats’ support. Instead of negotiating, the Democrats filibustered the bill, and riots continued unchecked.

    I disagree very much with the idea that it is mostly Rs refusing to work with Ds. I think it’s the reverse; but I also think that there are matters of principle which make it much harder to compromise today.

    I hope, despite the disagreements, that rational people can still respect each other.

  11. Okay, I found one. A state lawmaker from West Virginia, a Republican, was arrested for his activities in the Capitol incursion. He has resigned, appropriately. There’s no excuse for hooliganism.

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