A counterpoint from reader Desargues:
Excuse me, Tim, but I have to disagree with your framing. You did what they call “himpathy” in feminist theory. Reflexively empathizing with the bad guys. You know who’s had to literally fear for their lives from day 1 on their job in Congress? Ilhan Omar, AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and a few others like them. Constant death threats — out in the open, not from an anonymous payphone — plus daily incitement by the braying beasts like Limpballs and his animal ilk.
These Republicans deserve no sympathy from anyone. They have choices, and they’ve always had a choice. They’ve made their choices, and whatever risk they incur is their problem, not our problem. Please update your understanding.
Yep. This complaint describes me to a T. And if you disagree with that then you’re going to disagree with me.
Lemme tell you a quick story about a Republican I knew a long time ago. This guy was one of those aggravating hoo-rah milbloggers who popped up like fireweed after 9/11. These guys all had their blog-rings and friends’ blogs on the left margin of the page and award bugs down the right margin like “second most popular milblog, signals or intelligence, top 800-1000 traffic, 2002” or “RCP wipes self regularly prize, 2003”. He was a bit of a blowhard who helped Erickson start RedState, but he let anyone comment on his blog and he was more fun to annoy than a brick like Jim Hoft. I wouldn’t say I was friendly per se, but I did try to write with what you could call “himpathy”. I made a point to disagree about the topic and not his character or hygeine.
Anyway, after a while that blogger got so annoyed with the George W. cult’s brainless groupthink that in ’04 he invited me to join him on the blog. And that’s how some medium profile diarist at Daily Kos became a writer on a crappy right wing milblog called Balloon Juice. It was a weird time.
So yeah, I lean towards this “himpathy” thing. I like the dissonant feeling of seeing from a different angle. That’s true even and maybe especially when it’s hostile. I will also say as an old activist that I have learned to use it tactically. I tried the “at” theory of change, and I have tried the “with” theory of change, and if I had to rank them I’d say that “at” feels a *lot* more satisfying but the “with” method gets better results.
So the operative question here is, what am I after? I want the Republican party to break into smaller parts so we Democrats (if we hold together) can beat them in the next election like a rented stepchild. It happens that right on this day we have arrived at a moment that I’ve been expecting for a long, long time. To wit, we are looking at a powerful and (hopefully) irreversible break between Chamber of Commerce Republicans who just want to steal everyone’s money versus Trumpist maniacs looking for some Khmer Rouge regime of insanity and murder. That’s an opportunity that comes up once in a lifetime, and I’d like to seize it. If I have to convince people like Pat Toomey they want to work with a liberal asshole like me more than with dangerously unstable colleagues like Goehmert, Nunes, Tuberville, or Hawley, then the scumrag who *isn’t* interested in genocide gets a warm hug from me.
Now, imagining we had Bart Stupak-type blue dogs to convince, those guys would get quite a lot of my attention. You can’t split Republicans without Democrats holding together. Thankfully (in one sense anyway) Stupak, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, those guys are all gone. Hell, one of the great no-shits-to-give barn burner speeches last week came from Conor Lamb. There just isn’t enough daylight between ‘the squad’ and Democratic leadership to matter right now. The edge of the knife is in the Republican party, and if giving some of them a hug helps me push the knife in further then that’s what I’m gonna do. If that inspires you to tear me a new one, well, you came to the right place.