The reason people can box for sport and exercise is that everybody agrees to a set of time-honored rules beforehand. Because of those rules, sparring can look like fighting, but it’s not really a fight because the participants aren’t trying to hurt or kill each other. So, everybody can get in shape and hone their skills without fearing for their lives. It’s the very picture of civilized conflict.
But let’s say one of the boxers decided he was going to start ignoring those rules — like, he started hitting below the belt or brought a brick or a knife into the ring with him — because he didn’t want everybody to get a good workout, he just wanted to win. That would change the complexion of the encounter.
It would be a great situation for the guy with the brick, as long as the other boxer was committed to upholding Marquess of Queensberry rules. He’d have free run of the ring and could do whatever he wanted. If his opponent really wanted to play by the rules, his only options would be to get his head caved in or flee the ring.
So then let’s say that the boxer with the brick, drunk with his success, decided to chase his opponent out into the parking lot and continue beating him with the brick, and then he showed up at his opponent’s job at the car dealership and jumped on top of his desk and continued to beat him with the brick, and then he chased him to his house… and so on and so on.
No matter how much the other boxer wanted to uphold the civilized rules, eventually, for the sake of self-preservation, he would have to start fighting back in kind. He would have to find his own bat or chainsaw or wild badger and use it against his attacker. When that finally happened, the first boxer, the one with the brick, might try to call him out for cheating. But his complaint would be absurd. A man can only take a beating for so long before he decides that civility is less important than keeping all the blood inside his body.
For a long time, leftist activists in America have been fighting without regard for the rules of civilized political conflict. More recently, they’ve stopped even being subtle about it. Anybody who doesn’t buy into liberal groupthink is subject to relentless, vicious, no-holds-barred attack. It doesn’t even matter if you’re just a regular civilian with no real influence of governmental power. If the left thinks they can make an example of you, they have no mercy.
This works out great for them as long as the other side isn’t willing to respond in kind. They can spend the day rioting to shut down a conservative speaker on a college campus and then grab a chalupa at Taco Bell and walk home safely, because they know that there’s not a mob of people on the other side who are going to track them down through their Facebook accounts and spend all night blowing air horns in their yards and throwing garbage through their windows. They can organize campaigns to get people with the wrong opinions fired and still feel secure in their own jobs. They can gin up scandals over the bad behavior of the opposition and, since they don’t care about their own bad behavior, never have to worry about retaliation.
But what if the other side, tired after decades of being kicked in the junk, decides that they don’t care about bad behavior either? Because that’s where we are now.
It’s been remarkable watching the whole Stormy Daniels episode play out. The press so desperately wanted it to be a scandal. It certainly had all the earmarks of a good one — the illicit sex to get people interested and the hush money angle to give it a sinister vibe. In the past, this kind of thing was enough to, if not end, at least cripple a presidency. A significant percentage of the Republican base wouldn’t tolerate this kind of moral failing in a political leader, and they would turn against him.
Not anymore. Exactly zero people who supported Trump before will change their minds because of Stormy Daniels. Nobody’s even surprised by this.
And I can only imagine what’s going through the heads of reporters as they continue to pursue these stories. “Hey, this kind of stuff used to work,” they think, as they despondently scratch their heads with their “I’m With Hillary!” commemorative pens and sip stale coffee out of their DNC Platinum Level Donor coffee mugs. “Why aren’t people reacting to these stories anymore?”
I don’t know if they’ll figure it out (probably not), but the reason seems pretty obvious: people have been beaten with bricks for so long that they are now willing to sacrifice moral standards for the sake of a win. Like a river erodes its banks, the ruthless, relentless push of leftism into every aspect of life has stripped away the civility from its victims.
We can only have an orderly society if most of the people care about the society, and the rules that keep it orderly, more than they care about winning political power. But once everybody gives up on order and winning at all costs becomes the norm — once all the Marquess of Queensberry rules have been stripped away — you don’t have a society at all. You just have warring factions grasping for power.