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Party of Hecklers
I happened to catch a minute of the Daily Show this morning, where John Stewart was talking about the Administration's problem with hecklers in the audiences lately. And it occurred to me that this is a horribly apt metaphor for the modern Republican Party. They're not interested in solutions; they're not interested in compromise; they're not interested in reasoned debate. Instead, they are solely interested in *winning*, and have decided that the easiest way to do that is to simply keep interrupting and distracting every serious discussion with heated soundbites and yelling instead.

Of course, some Democrats do this as well -- worse, some of them are picking up the bad habit from the Republicans. But by and large, it's still currently a bit anomalous among the Democrats, whereas it seems to be a deliberate and managed strategy on the right.

And I think that, more than anything, symbolizes my frustration with the Republicans. You have to understand, I *desperately* want a Republican Party I can respect -- one that I could seriously consider voting for. The country needs that, because it's not as if the Democrats are perfect -- while I think that the Dems *try* a lot harder, and are much more sincere about attempting to find functional solutions, they tend to have their own big blinders, and are sometimes just plain dumb. I dearly want to be in a position where choosing between the parties is difficult, and requires careful thought between reasoned left and right positions.

Mind, there are still a fair number of conservatives who I respect immensely. The problem is, they're mostly political pariahs at this point: they can't be Democrats, and they've all been purged from the Republicans for the crime of Insufficient Purity of Dogma. A few have wound up as pundits (mostly on left-leaning media that are trying to look fair, since the right-wind media has little tolerance of apostates); many have simply dropped out of politics entirely out of disgust.

But mostly I'm left with a Republican Party that I despise. Indeed, it forces me into a more or less pure Democratic line, on the grounds that, as far as I can tell, the best outcome I can work for is utterly *annihilating* the current right-wing leadership, so that it can be replaced by some more sensible forces.

Right now, though, I mostly want to start calling out the hecklers for the cowards that they are, afraid of the reasoned discussions, complicated issues and messy compromises that make up the real world. I don't like bullies, and that is basically what the heckler culture is made up of: people who are desperately afraid of being seen as anything other than Completely 100% Right All The Time, so they instead just try to shout down everybody else...

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Agreed. Olympia Snow flat out stated she is stepping down because of the political circus right now.

Voting Republican just rewards bad behavior right now. Or, in the words of P.J. O'Rourke, "It just encourages the bastards", although he was referring to voting at all.

Thank you for bringing clarity to this phenomenon.

I wrote a long commentary on this awesome post. And then I let it go, because all it does, in fact, is depress me to think about the long, painful slide of The Loyal Opposition.

Yes. Yes and it saddens me to no end.

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It is not that Dems "pick up bad habits from Republicans." it is that Republicans are actively changing the culture, and Dems follow. Which prompts Republicans to reciprocate and take it to the next level. It's like dealing with a collection of poorly behaving 11 year olds.

I have been lecturing about this 10 years. It goes hand in hand with the overall loss of legitimacy. When the system as a whole is delegitimized, very bad things start to happen for everyone.

Consider any experience you have standing in line for something, or trying to merge into traffic. If people stand in line and move in order, things proceed smoothly and a wait is tolerable. But then someone starts to cut in line. Someone else follows. it doesn't take long for things to degenerate into a free for all, because if you try to behave appropriately you will absolutely wait forever.

There are union people picketing Pega (for not choosing them to work on a job that they refused to bid for!). They are handing out flyers about how bad Pega is.

The interesting thing about the flyers is that they are not "signed" by anyone at all - not "Union #42" or "Pipefitters" or whoever. It's just anonymous leafletting.

I, of course, called them out on it - pointing out that their group didn't have the guts to sign their own leaflets. The guy shrugged - he was more involved in looking at his handheld than real picketing.

I don't think we currently have conservatives and liberals in American politics; we have moderate-conservatives and lunatic-conservatives. I want the current Republican party to be demolished and discredited so that the new opposition can be to the LEFT of the current Democratic party.

We can't expect any sort of third party to ever be viable so long as we retain our current Constitution and election methods. Strong-president systems tend to lead to single party rule; in view of the record around the world for systems like ours the surprise is not that we only have two significant political parties, but that we still have two and not one.

I've considered Republican political strategy to be mostly about bullying since I saw the clips of the shouting crowds outside the Florida polling offices that election officials gave into during the Bush/Gore elections. Then it got worse.

I'm very sad to hear that there are Democrats who are following in their footsteps. I have many issues with the Democratic platform these days, but it is, at least, not entirely based on lies and marketing. Just mostly.

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