Students of civil wars they follow a well-established dynamic. A sect, radicalized by militant leaders, commits atrocities against another sect. The targeted group retaliates with its own massacres. And thus begins a cycle of violence. Think of Serbs Vs. Bosniaks in the former Yugoslavia, Sunnis Vs. Shiites in Iraq, Hutus vs. Tutsis in Rwanda. I fear that a similar process of mutual radicalization is occurring in America – minus, mercifully, widespread physical violence. Heather Heyer in Charlottesville last year, protesters and a right-wing hate group called Proud Boys – are still isolated occurrences. For now.
President Trump is the prime culprit. He claims Democrats are traitors who want to open the borders to murderers and rapists, who perpetrated "evil" hoax to stop the Supreme Court nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh and who are to turn America into another Venezuela – a bankrupt socialist dictatorship. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Who has been charged with any crime. Some of Trump's mini-me's are worse. Scott Wagner, the GOP's candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, threatened his Democratic opponent, Gov. Tom Wolf: "You better put a catcher's mask on your face because I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes."
The extremism of the right has provoked a predictable backlash from the left. Kavanaugh's hearing is heard again and again by the protesters, videos are circulating on the right-wing websites of the Supreme Court, and Republicans seek as White House aide Stephen Miller and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) Have been hounded at restaurants. Christine Blasey Ford's highly credible testimony – she was embraced by the headline-chasing attorney Michael Avenatti, who claimed that Kavanaugh had been complicit in gang rapes in high school .
I got a taste of leftist anger when I went to NPR's "On Point" last Thursday. One caller insisted that Trump was not another Hitler – he was worse! Another listener emailed that "I truly hope you promoted in agony as a result of the climate change you." Two days later, the Intercept, the Breitbart of the left, wrote that should be exiled from the "sanctuary of politics" because of my (now recived) support for the Iraq War – a position I shared with then-Sens. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Charles E. Schumer, among other democrats.
Trump to pour fuel on the partisan fire. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) Said protesters should harass Cabinet members When they go out in public. After the Kavanaugh vote, the liberal activist Kat Calvin tweeted that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) should never have "a moment of peace in public again."
More recently, Clinton told CNN: Eric Holder dismisses Michelle Obama's slogan, "When they go low, we go high." "When they go." low, "said Holder," we kick 'em. That's what this new Democratic Party is about. "
Here's what the new Democratic Party is about: impractical proposals with little analysis or detail. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Advocates breaking up big banks but can not answer basic questions about his plan. Nor has he offered any realistic way to pay for his grandiose ideas, which include Medicare-for-all, free tuition at public universities and a federal job guarantee. Yet these plans – the leftist version of "build the wall and make Mexico pay for it" – have been endorsed by leading Democratic presidential aspirants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even though this would simply mean some other agency would enforce immigration laws. As Holder said, "I do not think that, substantively or politically, that makes a great deal of sense."
Democrats will not defeat Trump by becoming the Trumps of the Left. The largest group of voters in America are independents (we make up 42 percent of the electorate), and are most likely to be attracted by intemperate outbursts and outlandish proposals. Progressives are no mob, but they abandon civility, they want to play in Trump's hands by allowing him to portray himself as the last line of defense against the Hugo Chavez of North America.
Even if such tactics can mobilize a progressive constituency and deliver short-term political victories, think of the long-term cost. We are already so tribalized that we have those with opposing viewpoints. There is a real danger that the social fabric could rip altogether, leading to violence in the streets, unless one side is principled enough to practice heroic self-restraint in the face of grievous provocation. And we know it will not be the Trumpified GOP.