October 27, 2004

PLAYING WITH FIRE:

Man Arrested For Assault Against Harris (TBO newswire, 10/27/04)

A 46-year-old man has been arrested in connection with an aggravated assault incident against U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota).

The incident happened when Harris and several supporters were campaigning on the northwest corner of the intersection at Fruitville Road and North Washington Boulevard Tuesday evening, according to Sarasota police. A vehicle headed toward them and swerved at the last moment and drove off.


Election season 2004 has seen a disturbing rise in incidents like this, including attacks on Republican headquarters across the country and calls for the assassination of President Bush.

But what's really astonishing is that the Left thinks this all well and good and is whipping up such deranged passions even further. The entire Democratic campaign to win back wavering black support is based on telling them that the GOP is stealing their votes, while the Kerry campaign's stated intention to simply declare victory on November 2nd and then fight it out in court reflects a total disregard for the democratic process. John Edwards wife even spouted some nonsense recently about how riots in PA would only be avoided in Mr. Kerry carried the state. And check out this essay, The Intensity Gap (E. J. Dionne Jr., October 26, 2004, Washington Post)

In the torrent of polling information released over the weekend, the most significant finding was this one: John Kerry's supporters are more likely than George W. Bush's to believe that this year's election is the most important of their lifetimes.

Rather than be alarmed at such obviously overblown passions Mr. Dionne thinks them rational, even healthy. Like late stage Weimar Germany, the Democrats seem to have lost faith in democracy. In their insistence that the system has to render what they want they're devolving to a kind of fanaticism that Erif Hoffer explained so well and which he contrasted to the more typically American attitude:
Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.

Similarly, in his terrific new book, The Case for Democracy, Natan Sharansky says the following:
[I]n the free world, the competition of ideas and of political parties flourishes, and allegiances are often based on a single common principle or purpose that struggles against a competing point of view.

Though generally healthy for a society, this competition can be quite dangerous if we lose sight of the fact that there is a far greater divide between the world of freedom and the world of fear than there is between the competing factions within a free society, If we fail to recognize this, we lose moral clarity. The legitimate differences among us, the shades of gray in a free society, will be wrongly perceived as black and white. Then, the real black-and-white line that divides free societies from fear societies, the real line that divides good and evil, will no longer be distinguishable.


While the President and his followers obviously see the divide between America, in its messy political totality, and the world's totalitarian regimes as black and white, we are approaching a danger point where the Democrats view the world as a mass of grays but see the divide between themselves and Republicans as black and white. This is a recipe for civil war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 27, 2004 6:48 PM
Comments

As a conservative in Seattle, that kind of talk makes me somewhat nervous. But I don't think that there are enough nutcases to actually spark a full-blown civil war. Domestic terrorism, maybe, which brings me right back to being nervous...

Posted by: Timothy at October 27, 2004 7:27 PM

The danger is not so much in the good vs evil that the left see themselves in against the right (though they reject such a formulation about anything else), it's the notion that the government rightfully belongs in the hands of the left. Thus a conservative gov't is by definition illegitimate.

As Prof. Gitlin (why he's not Inmate Gitlin is beyond me) has said, expect serious violence (by US standards) if Bush wins. Kerry's chums talked about assassinating US Senators during Vietnam. I fear that leftist groups (or individuals) could easily target conservative Supreme Court justices (wasn't a justice recently mugged?) and Republican Senators from states with Dem governors and severely shake up the balance of political power.

Another problem could be the fact that in general those who join the military are conservative. Obviously we want an all-volunteer service, but we can't afford anyone on either side of the political spectrum to think the military is for or against them. The fairly obvious attempts by Democrats in 2000 and now to suppress the military vote are an extremely worrying trend...

Posted by: brian at October 27, 2004 7:38 PM

"...we are approaching a danger point where the Democrats view the world as a mass of grays but see the divide between themselves and Republicans as black and white. This is a recipe for civil war."

On his blog a few months ago, James Lileks speculated that a Bush win would see an upswing in domestic terrorism, as all the Anointed and Enlightened (Luke Skywalkers in their own minds) start mixing fertilizer and fuel oil to bring down the Evil Empire. I'd add in nostalgia for the Weather Underground days of Vietnam, when we had bombings on a regular basis.

Weimar Germany. Remember who was the only party to stand against the Communists in the streets back then in 1932 Berlin? Back when the divisions between parties were ONLY all-black and all-white?

Posted by: Ken at October 27, 2004 8:19 PM

But what's really astonishing is that the Left thinks this all well and good and is whipping up such deranged passions even further.

What astonishes me is that the Left has been hysterical about the supposedly impending threat of fascism, but nearly all the thuggish assaults are Democrats or allied Leftists attacking Republicans. Talk about projection.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 27, 2004 8:33 PM

Fortunately, the lefties are members of the Chattering Classes and do not know to feild strip and clean their rifles. The folks that do and who own rifles are loyal to the Flag.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 27, 2004 8:58 PM

The problem is that thanks to Stalin, the Communists were conspiring unwittingly,
against the Weimar Republic with the Nazis.
If the left started 'blowing in the wind'
with the Weathermen, or maybe taking a page
from the Matrix, the Patriot Act, would make
it a short engagement

Posted by: narciso at October 27, 2004 9:23 PM

There are actually two threads to the Democrats' actions in this election cycle -- those who truly have anger management issues amid panic attacks over the disaster that a second term for Bush would cause, seeing a police state in the offing by Thanksgiving, and those Democratic political operatives who know better, but are encouraging this sort of mindset with the idea it will boost turnout. In this case I have more anger towards the devious than the dillusional, because actions have consequences, and we could see the results oof ginned-up paranoia in the coming months.

However, even if those on the far left decide to get nostalgic for the Weather Underground's modus operendi, the general atmosphere in the U.S. after 9/11 is far less hospitable to those type of tactics. Blow up an 11th Street townhouse in New York City by accident in 1970, and many people were willing to excuse their bomb making because they thought their cause was just, and because North Vietnam was never going to bomb our country. Blow up a New York City townhouse, or anyplace else, in 2005, and the sympathy level even among some of those who think Bush=Hitler is likely to be way lower.

Posted by: John at October 27, 2004 9:25 PM

PapayaSF;

But you see, according to the Left, Fascism is phenomenon of the Right and so the Left can never be Fascist, by definition.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 28, 2004 9:20 AM

"I intimidated her with my car".

As opposed to, say, his vote?

Rather than bonfires after Nov. 2, I think we will see the equivalent of a large balloon just deflating and sagging to the ground. It takes too much energy AND principle to stay on the attack for 4 years. This crop doesn't have it.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 28, 2004 10:32 AM

If Bush wins the popular vote, the possibility for domestic violence is very low. If he takes steps to address legitimate concerns about civil rights with the PATRIOT Act and a few other laws, this falls to zero. But he'll probably won't.

If Bush loses the popular vote again but wins the electoral, then there is some danger. The notion that the election's loser becomes the President is an affront to Americans' democratic sensibilities even if it is possible constiutionally.

Republicans don't seem to understand this.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 28, 2004 11:52 AM

Chris:

What legitimate civil rights concerns?

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2004 11:59 AM

Chris,

If Bush loses the popular vote again but wins the electoral, then he wins the election. Period.

Democrats don't seem to understand this.

Posted by: jefferson park at October 28, 2004 12:07 PM
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