Free Markets, Free People

MichaelW

I'm a husband, father, and attorney living in Northern Virginia trying to make my way through this world like everyone else. Stay outta my way, and you can bet I'll stay out of yours ... and I'll even help keep others from bothering you as well.


How To Manipulate Women Voters: An Obama Campaign Primer

If it’s not painfully obvious by now, the Obama campaign is banking on women voters being the key to re-election. Running on “Hope and Change” isn’t going to work this time around, and the specter of George Bush will only get about as many miles as a Chevy Volt on a full charge. The usually reliable grievance groups, identity cohorts and college students are not as enthused this time around, and the Obama campaign is apparently worried about that $1,000,000,000 in cash won’t be enough to get it past the finish line. So, naturally, some voting bloc must be pandered to and manipulated in order to secure a second term.

Enter the Contraception Wars (a major battle of the General War on Women). Relying on the various Democratic identity politics to get your voter base out is tedious, time consuming, and requires a lot more vote-buying to pay off the different interest groups. Seeing as how they may not be a reliable base anyway, then why not go for the largest voting bloc out there: women!

In recent elections, voter turnout rates for women have equaled or exceeded voter turnout rates for men. Women, who constitute more than half the population, have cast between four and seven million more votes than men in recent elections. In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion [of] female adults who voted has exceeded the proportion of made adults who voted.

The one thing that all women have in common is that they alone have the necessary biological equipment for having babies. If they were made to feel that their equipment was under attack (“Republicans are coming to steal your ladyparts!“), and that only Obamamagne can defend their honor, then perhaps they will race to the polls in support of their hero. Of course, there will have to be some “free” stuff thrown in to sweeten the pot and make women feel as if they are losing something unless Obama is re-elected. Accordingly, what follows is the multi-step process for ensuring the women vote goes solidly for Obama in November:

1. Raise awareness: Subtly introduce the subject of contraception from out of left field at a Republican debate. This will get the tongues wagging and foreshadow who the villains are.

2. Free Stuff: Using your arrogated powers, mandate that all employers who provide insurance must include contraception (including abortifacients and sterilization) in their plans, regardless of conscientious objection, the First Amendment or, y’know, any of that freedom nonsense. By giving women “free” contraception, etc., you necessarily pit them against those who would deny them their grant. Executing this step is vitally important to framing the villains and carrying out Step 3.

3. Create the wedge issue: Because certain quarters will predictably howl at the intrusion upon their liberties, this Step is almost self-executing. Once the villainous voices are set to wailing, pretend to show concern for their plaints and then offer an “accommodation” that changes nothing but highlights your Solomonic wisdom (aided, of course, by a compliant media). The results of this Step are two-fold — (a) it politicizes the issue so that people will have to choose sides, and (b) it creates the illusion that you are fair and just, while your opponents are rigid and uncaring.

4. Flip the issue: Up to this point, the issue has been “I want to give you free stuff, but the greedy bastards don’t want to pay for it.” That may raise legitimate concerns among a sizable portion of the voting bloc you are courting. So, instead, change the narrative to “I want to protect your ability to get the free stuff, but they don’t want you to have it at all!” In flipping the issue from “don’t want to pay for” to “want to ban” you have neatly cleaved your intended voting bloc from your political enemies. Under this telling of the story, the villains are out to get women and only you will stand up to protect them.

5. Generate sound bytes: This Step is a bit tricky and must be followed carefully. The basis for any campaign is a good PR strategy. There will be plenty of older sound bytes out there already, but those will be generally stale and unhelpful. What you need to properly execute this Step is a current controversy. In order to do that you will need a public forum (such as Congressional hearing) in which to force the issue. Start by finding someone to represent your voting bloc and push her presence at the forum in a way that is sure to keep her from actually appearing. (As an added bonus, falsely claim that no representative of the voting bloc was allowed to appear.) Be sure that this speaker will be a sympathetic victim such as a lowly “college student” (regardless of whether she is or not). Now, and this part is very important, have your willing victim draw enemy fire by testifying about activities that perfectly fit the definition of “slut”, all but openly daring your opponents to use the word. Don’t worry about someone taking the bait — someone always rises to occasion.

6. Profit: Now that you have created a wedge issue, identified victim and villain, and staked out your claim to your voter bloc, all you have to do is pound the wedge home. Using your newly generated sound byte(s), you are firmly on the path to political nirvana. Your friends and allies will eagerly disseminate, distort and decry the outrageous outrageousness of your political opponents, firmly ensconcing your coveted voter bloc on your side. It will be the talk of the town for quite some time, ready to be refreshed at the right moments. In addition, it will provide a welcome distraction to your pathetic record, a flailing economy, and impending dangers that show you unequal to the task.

That is, of course, unless you’ve miscalculated. If your premise is wrong that women are all the same and will all vote the same way if given the proper motivation, then this plan could backfire.

Or maybe, just maybe, women aren’t as manipulable as you believe, and they actually care about their families, their jobs, their home budgets, and their liberties. If that’s the case, then you might just be screwed no matter what you do.


An Electric Car Mandate?

The editors of the Washington Examiner consider the probable effects of the new CAFE standards (being imposed by the EPA now instead of NHTSA) and ask a pertinent question:

Getting from the current 35 mpg CAFE standard to 54.5 can be achieved by such expedients as making air conditioning systems work more efficiently. We have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to anybody who thinks that’s even remotely realistic. There is one primary method of increasing fuel economy — weight reduction. That in turn means automakers will have to use much more exotic materials, including especially the petroleum-processing byproduct known as “plastic.” But using more plastic will make it much more difficult to satisfy current federal safety standards. The bottom-line will be much more expensive vehicles and dramatically fewer kinds of vehicles.

[...]

Total costs, as calculated by the EPA, will exceed $157 billion, making this by far the most expensive CAFE rule ever. For comparison, the previous rule in 2010 cost $51 billion, according to the EPA. But the EPA doesn’t include this fact in its calculation: Annual U.S. car sales are 14-16 million units, yet over time, this rule will remove the equivalent of half a year’s worth of buyers. Will that be when the EPA takes a cue from Obamacare and issues an individual mandate that we all must buy Chevy Volts?

I’m just curious, for those who support the individual mandate dictated by Obamacare, what is the argument that such an electric car mandate isn’t possible? If the federal government can force us to purchase insurance from the companies it allows to offer the product based on the idea that health care is a national issue, how is promoting cleaner air and more energy security not the same thing? Indeed, it would seem that the arguments are even stronger for forcing everyone to buy electric cars if furthering the “common good” is the only real restriction on federal power.

So what is the difference from a legal, constitutional standpoint? Is there one?


Eastwood and Down

A man. A plan. A Super Bowl ad promoting the re-election of Barack Obama masquerading as a Clint Eastwood promotion for Chrysler.

I’m not sure what I’m more appalled by: the fact that Josey Wales is supporting crony capitalism, or the fact that the American taxpayers are funding a Super Bowl ad for the sitting president. How is this even possible?

I can understand that Clint Eastwood is just making a buck, and that perhaps he didn’t understand the ramifications of a bailed-out company spending $3 million per 30 seconds to send a special love note to its benefactor. But “Halftime in America”? Anyone even slightly cognizant of the 80′s would have to recognize the parallels to Reagan’s “Morning in America” campaign. Obama is half way through a potential two terms, thus this is his “halftime”. Ergo, supporting Obama in the next election equates to better times ahead.

In other words, we were fed blatant propaganda via our tax dollars.

Think about this for just a second. A company that was formerly held by a well-heeled hedge fund, and which was bailed out by the current administration, just spent gobs of money (that we provided it) to promote the re-election of its savior. On the most watched television event in the world. Starring one of the most respected actors in history. How is this not a disgusting display of crony capitalism?

Just to be clear, I’m not one to say that these sorts of ads should be illegal (although, I certainly question how — keeping in mind that money is fungible — taxpayer funds can be used to make this sort of ad). Let people say and pay for whatever message they want to broadcast. The more speech the better, IMHO.

My problem here is that we were milked by this company, and that we’re paying for the ads to glorify the guy who milked us.

A lot of fools decided to (sort of) camp out in various parks around the nation in order to protest this very behavior. Will any of them stand up and decry this ad? Of course not. Instead, the few of them who make it to the polls will vote to re-elect Obama, and therefor to further crony capitalism so that people better-connected than themselves can have worry-free employment at far greater than the market rate, and the national average.

We can have a country of laws, in which we are all treated equally with respect to individual rights protecting autonomy, or we can have a rule of man in which the favored make all of our decisions for us and reap the benefits of everyone’s effort. We are long down that second road.

I just hope that, unlike the Super Bowl, it is not the patriots who lose. I fear that there is no other possible outcome when we are forced to pay for the very propaganda that laces our wrists in chains.


The “Gimme Generation”

I‘ve mentioned before about the seemingly unbridgeable ideological divide confronting our federal representatives in Washington, DC. This seems to be a generational version of the same thing (my emphasis):

Young folks today appear to have the same dreams and ambitions that my generation had at the same age. We wanted an education, a good career, a home of our own and a happy life. The main difference between today’s youthful opinion is that most of us expected to stay in school, work hard and earn a good life instead of having it given to us at someone else’s expense — a point of view expressed by many young adults today.

Proof of the pudding showed up this fall in a survey conducted by Professor Jack W. Chambless at Valencia College in Florida. He asked his students to write a short essay expressing their view of The American Dream.

Most of the students responded with the familiar notions of youth expressed by my generation with one important and notable exception. Instead of taking personal responsibility for their future, they noted that the government should, “Pay my tuition, provide me with a job, give me money for a house, make sure I get free health care and pay for my retirement.” If necessary, “… raise taxes on rich people so that I can have more money …”

What else would you expect from young Americans, who, after several generations, have grown accustomed to a “Nanny State” in which the Federal Government has taken more and more license with the lives of individual Americans? This entire process has resulted in a citizenry in which one-half of wage earners pay no income tax at all and, indeed, in some cases even get a “refund” even though that refund comes from one of the other half of Americans who have paid income tax. If this is not a prime Marxist example of government, “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need,” I don’t know what is.

In fact, according to clip below, 80% of the students opined that health care, tuition, down payments and jobs should all be provided by the government at no cost to themselves. And, while this certainly isn’t a scientific poll or anything even approaching the sort, it should be noted that this was from a class of 200 college kids. So, at least 160 of them thought this way. Which is more than just pathetic and sad. It’s a harbinger of terrible things to come.

I truly pray that Valencia College has cornered the market on freeloaders, thus making this a terribly skewed sample. Or maybe the students surveyed are just a bunch of smart-asses having fun with their professor. Indeed, I’m sure that something far less than 8 in 10 college students believes that government should just provide for their every want and desire, paying for out of the pockets of the “rich” if need be (one wonders where they think all these goodies originate?).

But the number doesn’t really need to be all that high before serious issues arise. If, instead, the number is only 20% (or 1 in 5), that would be better, but still alarming. Consider that if 20% of the electorate feels this way, and that the remaining 80% are diametrically opposed on almost every issue, then pleasing that smaller cohort becomes the key to political victory. In short, giving free stuff to the 20% in exchange for their votes. Which is not at all unlike what we have now.

Of course if that number is higher that 1 in 5, the problem becomes much worse. At least, until they run out of other people’s money.

You can see a video of an interview with the professor who conducted the survey here.


Competing Visions: Why The Super Committee Failed

As Bruce points out below, the failure of the Super Committee should come as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention. Even where committees arrive at an agreed solution, it rarely ever gets implemented. What’s worse, in this case, the Super Committee was operating under the sword of automatic spending cuts to domestic and military programs should it fail to arrive at a consensus — i.e. no side had any incentive to deliver more or less than what would automatically go into place anyway. Of course, Pres. Obama running a re-election campaign based on a “do nothing” Congress certainly didn’t inspire his Democratic brethren on the Super Committee to find common ground either.

But these aren’t the real reasons for the Super Committee failure. Instead, as Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) writes in the Wall Street Journal today, the underlying problem is one of ideological impasse:

Ultimately, the committee did not succeed because we could not bridge the gap between two dramatically competing visions of the role government should play in a free society, the proper purpose and design of the social safety net, and the fundamentals of job creation and economic growth.

For the members of the Super Committee, the choice seemed to be between raising taxes on a small percentage of earners and making no cuts or reforms to the shibboleths of Medicare and Social Security, or reducing taxes and modestly curbing entitlements at some point in the future. In other words, it was a choice between expanding or slightly retarding the growth of government. However, it’s not just the specifics that make compromise difficult, if not impossible. Where one side believes that government is always the answer to what ails us, and the other (at least nominally) operates from the premise that individual effort leads to greater prosperity for all, there is only so much compromise that can be reached between the two. Eventually, government will be either too small or too big for the other side to bear.

This is the crucible in which somehow a compromise was to be reached on federal spending.

As it stands now, government spending is equal to about 35% to 40% of GDP, while our national debt is around 100% of GDP. At the federal level, we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that we spend, and entertaining trillion dollar plus deficits year after year for as long as we can reasonably forecast. This is the vision of those who see government as playing the primary role in most every aspect of society since it costs a lot of money to execute that vision. Yet, despite the fact that government has done nothing but grow over the past sixty years, they are convinced that anything smaller than what we currently have will lead to economic and social ruin. To be sure, after finally getting the government foot in the door of universal health care, the liberal base is not about to countenance any willing walk-back on those gains. The Democrats on the Super Committee were well aware of this, and that accepting changes to Medicare and Social Security or any other dearly loved social program would result in a deep backlash from those who believe that all of life is dependent on government.

Opposing that vision are those who think that government should be smaller and less intrusive, especially with respect to our economy. They look at our ever-growing debt and anemic, if not illusory, economic gains and see nothing but trouble down the road we’re traveling. Unfortunately, while total government spending is often publicly recognized as the problem, too many of these visionaries think that simply reducing tax rates will flood the federal coffers and all will be right with world. It’s true that raising taxes in a declining or struggling economy will tend to exacerbate, not alleviate, the problem. But Republicans on the committee also know that their base stand ready to punish any member who suggests raising taxes, now or in the future, regardless of the fact that the spending cuts necessary to get our debt problems under control simply aren’t feasible. And they won’t have much better luck at the ballot box if they even hint at reforming Medicare or Social Security.

Even where they are willing to take that chance, however, the Democrats can’t politically afford to compromise:

The Medicare reforms would make no changes for those in or near retirement. Beginning in 2022, beneficiaries would be guaranteed a choice of Medicare-approved private health coverage options and guaranteed a premium-support payment to help pay for the plan they choose.

Democrats rejected this approach but assured us on numerous occasions they would offer a “structural” or “architectural” Medicare reform plan of their own. While I do not question their good faith effort to do so, they never did.

Republicans on the committee also offered to negotiate a plan based on the bipartisan “Protect Medicare Act” authored by Alice Rivlin, one of President Bill Clinton’s budget directors, and Pete Domenici, a former Republican senator from New Mexico. Rivlin-Domenici offered financial support to seniors to purchase quality, affordable health coverage in Medicare-approved plans. These seniors would be able to choose from a list of Medicare-guaranteed coverage options, similar to the House budget’s approach—except that Rivlin-Domenici would continue to include a traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan among the options.

This approach was also rejected by committee Democrats.

The Congressional Budget Office, the Medicare trustees, and the Government Accountability Office have each repeatedly said that our health-care entitlements are unsustainable. Committee Democrats offered modest adjustments to these programs, but they were far from sufficient to meet the challenge. And even their modest changes were made contingent upon a minimum of $1 trillion in higher taxes—a move sure to stifle job creation during the worst economy in recent memory.

Even if Republicans agreed to every tax increase desired by the president, our national debt would continue to grow uncontrollably. Controlling spending is therefore a crucial challenge. The other is economic growth and job creation, which would produce the necessary revenue to fund our priorities.

Meanwhile, we operate under a tax system that is so heavily skewed towards the highest income producers that our government is dependent on about five percent of the taxpayers for a majority of its revenue, and only a quarter of all tax payers for more than 85% of that revenue. To the Democrats, this is apparently a good start. Republicans, on the other hand, see an unfair system that, if properly reworked, could raise even more revenue. Either way the spending, and thus the government, grows.

The definition of “priorities” is the real sticking point. It means either that everything from price and income support to cradle-to-grave health care is a priority, or that only the basic structural necessities of national defense, courts of law and last-resort safety nets qualify. There has been a great deal of compromise on that definition over the past several decades (albeit, always resulting in an expanding government), but it seems that we’ve finally reached the limit where any further acquiescence by one side results in unbearable loss to the other side. It’s difficult to see how we can successfully move forward as a unified country with such diametrically opposed visions for the role of government. Indeed, maybe we can’t for very much longer.


“You can’t make the poor rich by making the rich poorer”

That’s a quote from attributed to Abraham Lincoln* as delivered by Richard Epstein in his discussion of economic inequality (a meme that is all the rage right now). Interestingly enough, this interview was conducted and broadcast by PBS (as tree hugging sister notes “I’m sure whoever’s idea it was has been sacked. Along with all the llama trainers”).

In any event, this is as good a retort to the #OWS nonsense as you’ll likely find. Enjoy (HT: Insty):

Watch Does U.S. Economic Inequality Have a Good Side? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

ADDED: Although Epstein doesn’t say it explicitly, essentially he describes “economic inequality” as a benign effect, rather than a malignant cause. Understanding the difference leads to understanding why allowing for the greatest number of opportunities works better at increasing everyone’s wealth instead of trying to equalize outcomes.

* Thanks to DWPittelli for pointing out this misattribution in the comments (“It was the Reverend William John Henry Boetcker (1873–1962) who wrote “you cannot help the poor by destroying the rich” and 9 other related aphorisms in 1916. A printing error in 1942 led to the confusion between some Lincoln quotes and these Boetcker quotes.”).


Good News! Biden Not The Real President!

After much agitation from the “birther” crowd, and the recent pressure from Donald Trump, President Obama finally released his long-form birth certificate. And it is wholly unremarkable:

The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country. Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate. They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting.

Pres. Obama\'s Long Form Birth Certificate

Nothing about whether his parents were married, or what his religion is, or really anything else. Just the fact that he was born in Honolulu (which many of us already knew).

Of course, the fully committed will still carry on with the conspiracy theory, but hopefully those who were simply skeptical because Obama was so reluctant to release the document will now be satisfied. And then maybe we can all concentrate on the myriad real world reasons why Obama is unqualified to be President of the United States.


The Government Is A Wanton Slut

So we’ve reached an agreement. I’m not surprised. The entire argument — over money, of course — was nothing more than a prelude to an inevitable act.

Foreplay, if you will.

Oh sure, the back and forth was heated at times, but was there ever any doubt that the money-spenders would arrive at a deal? I mean, you cut off a gold-digger from the credit cards and concessions will inevitably be made. Not at first of course (even whores have their pride), but once it becomes inevitable that the spigot will be cut off, even the lowliest scum whores will come to obeisance. It’s what they do.

Without the sweet ambrosia of federal income, the power brokers — a.k.a. your elected officials — would lose all of their power, ephemeral as it may be. And powerless whores are the lowliest whores of all.

Why are they (i.e. Congress, the White House) whores? Because no matter what, regardless of any consequences, our “betters” have declared themselves to be more concerned with maintaining their ability to lord their will over our money (being realistic, our credit), than they are with protecting our ability to spend it as we see fit. Their main worry is that they won’t be able to control how we spend that money, and — most importantly — that it won’t go to the “correct” people. Frankly, if they can’t control our income/wealth/money, then they can’t control us. Indeed, without access to our tax dollars, congress-critters will have no influence at all. And that will not abide for too many if them.

Whatever the deal may be, the only certainty is that, like any John, we’re screwed. And that we will still be paying maximum price for that pleasure.

I don’t mean to make light of the fact that the House was able to wrestle some budget cuts away from the opposition. Kudos are definitely due. But they are paltry … i.e. cuts of $39,000,000,000 in the face of a $1,650,000,000,000 deficit just for this year, which is about a 2.4% cut. Seriously? Who cares?

The unfortunate answer is, “your representatives of all stripes and colors.” Because they need that money to dole out the gifts that keep them in power. A government shutdown means that there will be no incoming money to buy the power and influence our rulers crave. They may whinge about seniors dying and children crying, but what they truly care about is the power of the purse. With that power they can pay off favored constituents whom they will eventually call to account for the government’s distribution of largesse (witness the current fear-mongering about budget-cutters wanting to “kill women” and starve the elderly). They are simply using our tax dollars to buy their own power.

Our elected money-spenders will always bleat in earnest when their source of power is interrupted. So, of course a budget deal was cut. Like a wanton slut, they will always strike a deal to keep the money flowing.


Eco-Fail

The mantra amongst the warmist community is that if we don’t curb our carbon emissions drastically, the planet will warm severely and wreak all sorts of havoc. While the actual science doesn’t support that notion, the levers of power around the world are encouraged to heed the warmists’ warnings by curbing freedom and subsidizing things like the “green economy.” The London suburb community known as Muswell Hill took some initiative in that regard and built The Living Ark:

The LivingARK is a zero-carbon cabin designed to facilitate education on low carbon building technologies and raise awareness of climate change. It will be used to showcase sustainability not only to Muswell Hill Primary School pupils but to other local schools, community groups and residents. There are educational information boards both inside and outside the ARK which will explain the concept of a zero-carbon building and will also cover wider ranging topics such as sustainable transport, food-growing and an explanation of climate change.

Presumably, it’s called an Ark in reference to the massive flooding that’s supposed to happen thanks to Anthropogenic Global Warming. Ironically, its designed to prevent such a catastrophe from happening in the first place. Unfortunately, the designers forgot that England doesn’t get a whole lot of sun:

Eco-campaigners who built a classroom powered by the sun believed they were paving the way for the future.

Instead they have been taught a valuable lesson – there is not enough sun in North London to sufficiently heat their building.

[...]

It boasts laudable green credentials and is made from sustainable wood, sheep’s wool and soil. The roof is made of mud and grass and it has its own ‘rain pod’ and solar panels.

But there is snag – its solar panels only provide enough energy to power a few lightbulbs.

As a result the classroom is bitterly cold and uninhabitable for lessons.

Oops. And at a cost of just over $40,000, and rather expensive “oops.”

Local councillors, at Labour run Haringey council, who were behind the initiative, opened it with great fanfare in December as a beacon of their climate change policy.

But today a local parent at the 419-pupil school said teachers weren’t allowing pupils into the classroom because it was too cold.

‘What is the point of a classroom that can’t be used when it’s a bit cold outside? My kids have been told it’s too cold for them to use as nobody can figure out how to heat it,’ said the parent, who did not want to be named.

‘This is just an expensive piece of hollowed out wood and no use to anyone. We are living in Britain, not the Caribbean.’

The ‘waste’ of money comes as councils across the country are facing a severe shortage of school places.

By 2018 they will need to find an additional 500,000 primary places due to a population surge.

Once again cold, hard reality smacks down attempts to wish a fantasy world into existence. Maybe they, and the rest of the warmist cult, should pay a little more attention to that science stuff that nanny-staters are always claiming to be so fond of.


Runaway Legislatures: Civility is a process, not just words

Since the tragedy in Arizona, where nineteen people were shot (including U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords) and six murdered, talk of “civility” has been plentiful.  The right side of the political spectrum was called to the mat for using such horrible words as “target” and “socialism” and having the temerity to employ Hitler/Nazism comparisons in protest signage (that, the truth be told, they weren’t even carrying).  Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement were specifically denigrated for employing uncivil “eliminationist” rhetoric that was directly responsible for Mr. Jared Lee Loughner pulling the trigger in that awful event on January 8, 2011.

The gross mendacity (and unintentional preterition) of these charges  against the right generally, and the Tea Partiers specifically, is bad enough.  That they are leveled with abject hypocrisy is even worse.  But politics is not a sport well-played in a tit-for-tat fashion.  Everyone is guilty of hyperbole and hypocrisy at some point, regardless of political afflialiation.

What’s truly galling is the way that “civility” is suddenly determined by the language an opponent employs.  Civility has nothing to do with words, but instead, everything to do with action.  On that score, Democrats are behaving in as uncivil a manner as is possible.

A civilized nation conducts itself according to a defined, written, universally applicable and executable set of laws.  Adherence to such laws are the immutable backbone of any society capable of survival.  Wanton disregard of such laws inexorably leads to chaos and tyranny.  Ergo, “civility” does not depend on people speaking nicely about one another, but upon everyone playing by the same rules.

The current flouting of the legal process in Wisconsin and now Indiana, (and what previously occurred in Texas), is the true definition of uncivil.  Ignoring and actively undermining the electoral process is the epitome of “uncivil” action.  Whatever harsh words may or may not have been spoken before, civility is still entirely dependent upon the process for determining the course of action in pursuit of public goals.  Running away in avoidance of legislative duties smacks of cowardice and worse.  It uproots the civil process.

A common observation of the democracy holds that voting is simply a proxy for violence.  Fleshed out a bit, the process of electoral action is made in lieu of battle.  We could decide the course of society based on bloody battle alone, and let might make right. Instead, civil societies have chosen to allow the consent of the governed to rule, the best of which societies have done so through a responsive and accountable republic.  When the governors cease to heed to will of the governed, however, civil society becomes endangered and trouble is inevitable.

No less than Thomas Jefferson warned of the dangers in pursuing “uncivil” means of governance in the “shot across the bow” leading to the American Revolution, entitled “A Summary View of the Rights of British America” (emphasis added):

And this his majesty will think we have reason to expect when he reflects that he is no more than the chief officer of the people, appointed by the laws, and circumscribed with definite powers, to assist in working the great machine of government erected for their use, and consequently subject to their superintendance

To remind him that our ancestors, before their emigration to America, were the free inhabitants of the British dominions in Europe, and possessed a right, which nature has given to all men, of departing from the country in which chance, not choice has placed them, of going in quest of new habitations, and of there establishing new societies, under such laws and regulations as to them shall seem most likely to promote public happiness. That their Saxon ancestors had under this universal law, in like manner, left their native wilds and woods in the North of Europe, had possessed themselves of the island of Britain then less charged with inhabitants, and had established there that system of laws which has so long been the glory and protection of that country … Their own blood was spilt in acquiring lands for their settlement, their own fortunes expended in making that settlement effectual. For themselves they fought, for themselves they conquered, and for themselves alone they have right to hold

But that not long were they permitted, however far they thought themselves removed from the hand of oppression, to hold undisturbed the rights thus acquired at the hazard of their lives and loss of their fortunes. A family of princes was then on the British throne, whose treasonable crimes against their people brought on them afterwards the exertion of those sacred and sovereign rights of punishment, reserved in the hands of the people for cases of extreme necessity, and judged by the constitution unsafe to be delegated to any other judicature. While every day brought forth some new and unjustifiable exertion of power over their subjects on that side the water, it was not to be expected that those here, much less able at that time to oppose the designs of despotism, should be exempted from injury. Accordingly that country which had been acquired by the lives, the labors and the fortunes of individual adventurers, was by these princes at several times parted out and distributed among the favorites and followers of their fortunes; and by an assumed right of the crown alone were erected into distinct and independent governments

Jefferson later simplified his empirical understanding of how societies work with the infamous quote: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Another way of comprehending the principle is that a nation of laws only survives as long as the laws are adhered to. Every sovereign, whether composed of one or many, can only retain the authority entrusted to it by the people for as long as it respects that trust.  Once it strays, enough to undermine the confidence of the governed, those “sacred and sovereign rights of punishment” will come into play.  While such an extreme consequence may be remote at this time, there is no good that can come from enacting the foundations for its execution.

When the basis of a democratic republic — i.e. the electoral process — is entirely ignored and, worse, evaded as a politically inconvenient nuisance to the preferred outcomes of the very people entrusted with the public duty to  uphold the republic, is there any doubt that it will fall?

Civility in our political language is certainly useful and desirable, if not actually attainable.  In contrast, civility – i.e. respect for the process and outcomes thereof – is the sine qua non of our democratic institutions.  While we may prefer the former, we really must insist on the latter.