1. Unsurprisingly, this bit of kneejerk onanism from the WaPo editorial board completely misses the significance of this whole episode. In fact, it gets it wrong in exactly the same way Very Serious People have been getting in wrong in DC for decades.
2. The salient fact about US politics is that the right has been going steadily more crazy for decades -- breaking the law, disregarding norms, sinking into a hermetically sealed media bubble filled with paranoid conspiracy theories, seeking to disenfranchise opponents, etc.
3. At every stage, it gets worse. Norms & values we thought inviolate are crapped on, lawlessness becomes more brazen, ugly prejudices we thought buried, or at least suppressed, roar back to the surface. And with every increment, the question re-presents itself:
4. What should the rest of us do? The ~25% of Americans who believe & want horrible, illiberal shit ("deplorables," you might call them) have taken over the GOP. They are driving it toward fascism as fast as the system will allow them. What's the right response?
5. For years, lefties have been warning about this devolution of the GOP, going back to Reagan. They have bene dismissed as crazy partisan hippies, condemned as "uncivil," told they are part of the problem, because being mad about illiberalism is just like illiberalism.
6. The question has always been, where do you draw the line? At what point in the GOP's devolution do we say: OK, that's too far. We're no longer in Normal Politics. We're in a crisis situation, on the verge of losing our democracy. Where is the line?
7. The most insidious thing about the descent into illiberalism is that it is incremental. There's no dramatic moment, no Rubicon. Every step seems bad, but only a little worse than the previous step. Smart autocrats are careful not to provide that moment.
8. As this slide into illiberalism has continued, the mainstream DC establishment, including the sorts of Very Serious People that write major newspaper editorials, have *helped prevent that moment*. They have normalized, normalized, normalized, greasing the skids.
9. When lefties have tried to draw a line, create a moment, force a reckoning, the establishment has united in a single voice to say: calm down. Let's be civil & work together. Let's not raise our voices or be shrill. Both sides do it. We're still in Normal Politics.
10. Now here we are with a president who very openly pines for tyranny, explicitly disregards laws & norms, is nakedly racist, lies as often as he breathes, and oh yeah, is now JAILING TODDLERS TO DETER LEGAL IMMIGRATION.
11. By jailing toddlers, Trump has potentially made a mistake. Instead of incremental illiberalism, this seems like a jump, something to shock the conscience. It is yet another opportunity for a Moment, a time for the rest of us to say: no. This is not normal. It's not ok.
12. That what's the owner of the Red Hen was doing by refusing to serve Sanders: saying, No. This is not just a normal political dispute that can remain confined to the political sphere. You cannot support this & still expect to be treated like a normal, decent person.
13. The owner was trying to draw a line, disrupt the normal daily patterns of civility & accommodation, create a Moment around which people can rally to echo the message: No. This is not normal, not "just politics." We must stop pretending it is; we must snap out of hypnosis.
14. And so, right on cue, the Very Serious People ride to the rescue of the aspiring tyrants, saying, yet again: Calm Down. Let's not get crazy here. Let's not be RUDE. Heavens no. We must retain our decorum at all costs.
15. WaPo editors say that accepting incivility (gasp) is a "slippery slope." But that gets it exactly wrong. WE ARE ALREADY ON THE SLIPPERY SLOPE. It's a slope that leads to illiberalism, violence, & collapse. It's a slope greased accommodation & civility.
16. What the Red Hen owner (& others) are trying to do is jerk us awake, push of OFF the slippery slope. They're trying desperately to draw a line, to cease the slide. And every time they try -- even now, even to this day, even with toddlers in cages -- the MSM scolds them.
17. The Very Serious People who serve as tone police in DC need to decide what they value more: democracy or civility. Because we're just sliding, sliding, sliding down this slope, pretending all the while that things are still Normal. To get off the slide ...
18. ... will, almost by definition, require a break with Normal. It will require some sand in the gears, some raised voices, some violations of decorum and precedent. I dunno if restaurant service is the right mechanism, or even a good one. No one knows.
19. The WaPo editorial board, like the MSM establishment more generally, has been utterly fucking useless in slowing our slide to illiberalism. They've done nothing but obscure what's happening behind a veneer of Normal. They have failed. But for the luvagod ...
20. ... the very least they can do is refrain from concern trolling citizens who are (RIGHTLY) in a panic about the loss of their country. Maybe the agents of this cruelty, the ones lying on its behalf, should feel a little discomfort. There are worse things in the world. </fin>
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