There is a dangerous and irresponsible strain of opinion telling the Democratic Party today that when they lose, it’s because they aren’t fighting hard enough. Here’s one outline of this opinion from Politico editor John Harris. Here’s another way of stating the opinion, from a writer at Wired. The thesis goes something like this: the left has total dominance of the culture, and total dominance of the popular vote, so the answer to why they lose not infrequently is that the system is rigged against them, and they must fight all the harder and “take the gloves off” or something like that to achieve their ends.
The gloves have been off for a very long time in American politics. How quickly we forget the attempted murder of multiple Republican politicians including Steve Scalise, who may never walk normally again. Just this past week we saw a Democratic staffer who doxxed multiple Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee indicted, facing nearly 50 years in federal prison for his crimes. We saw Cory Gardner revealing his wife had received graphic texts of a beheading after his vote for Kavanaugh, along with their home address. And in Washington, we saw whatever all this is.
And this is not new, of course – it stretches back a long time. The gloves were off for the American Left in the late 1960s, when campus and activist violence became normalized. They were off in the 1970s when the outgrowth of that spirit of protest led to the sequence of Weathermen bombings that crisscrossed the nation.
Politically, the gloves were off during Robert Bork and judicial filibusters and the extreme procedural measures to pass Obamacare and the “pen and phone” mode of governance that came after. And of course they were off as a matter of communication too, when Democrats turned a nice fellow like Mitt Romney into a scheming misogynist who wanted poor people to die from cancer and never paid his taxes. Harry Reid’s reaction when confronted with lying about that point, which the media had covered excessively, was: “Romney didn’t win, did he?” Were the gloves on then?