Sunday, October 24, 2004

intimidation

I know a Bush-hater who says he was glad the Florida challenge came out the way it did because he thought Bush supporters were angrier (I don't agree, but that's what he thinks). He felt it was better for them to win because that would calm things down. But this year he thinks Kerry supporters are angrier (clearly), so they ought to win.

I wonder if he hasn't stumbled across a premeditated strategy behind all the hatred and spite we are seeing from Democrats this year. Could it be that they think Republicans will back down and let them win from fear? That would explain the hateful rhetoric, the screaming and name-calling on news shows, the premeditated attack on a conservative, the violence against Republican campaign workers, and intimidation tactics against Republican voters. It is starting to look like an actual strategy rather than separate spontaneous incidents.

When this first occurred to me I thought it far-fetched. Would they really expect such a thing to work? But then I realized that I was thinking like someone who supports the Iraq war. I need to think like someone who opposes it. In fact, I need to think like someone who values international esteem more than national interest. I need to think like someone who doesn't want to go after the terrorists because it might make them really angry. I need to think like someone who would be willing to abandon the tiny nation of Israel to genocide so as not to provoke third world trouble makers.

In other words, I need to think like an appeaser. It's a harsh word, but here is the truth: I need to think like a coward.

The Democratic party is the home of the people who say we shouldn't let anyone have guns because you are more likely to shoot yourself than the bad guy. It's the party of people who think it is virtuous to surrender your wallet to a thug with a knife.

Sometimes you do have to surrender your wallet. If you are a woman or you are smaller than the thug, or if you are elderly, you may have no choice. But it's not virtuous, any more than avoiding an on-rushing train is virtuous. What is virtuous is risking your life to stop the thug. Not just to save the money in your wallet, but to make thuggery a more dangerous occupation.

Yet there is a strong movement in this country to view the passive victim as a hero and the hero as merely another thug. This is the philosophy of the coward.

It is no accident that the party that condones this philosophy is also opposed to the Iraq war. Attacking Iraq was analogous to kicking the thug in the balls. It's risky. A bad kick could get us killed. Even a good kick could get us stabbed. But if we are successful, it will make us and everyone else a lot safer.

Of course fear and intimidation work. It can work on a small scale, as when someone asks someone for a dollar in a threatening manner. Not threatening enough to make it a robbery, but threatening enough that the victim might not want to take the chance of it turning into a robbery. It works at a larger scale as when threatened riots change university policies. It can even happen at national scales, as when Spain was bombed a few days before the election. And if Bush loses in November, it will have happened to the US as well.

What the Democrats may have miscalculated is that Bush draws a large part of his support specifically from people who will not be intimidated. While Kerry voters wanted to run to the UN for comfort after 9/11, while they wanted to find a way appease the bad people, Bush voters wanted to go after the bastards.

I suspect that Bush voters are going to feel the same about any Democrats that try to intimidate them at the polls, too.

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