There's fighting. And then there's gonzo fighting.
There are indeed circumstances that may warrant fighting to the death. Soldiers in battle, for example, who find themselves face-to-face with the enemy where it's either their own lives or the lives of the enemy. Yes, then you must pull out all the stops and fight like the Dickens for your very survival.
But more commonly there is the sort of fighting that occurs, say, within a family between siblings. Two brothers trying to share the PlayStation suddenly burst into a wrestling match. Even though they are indeed fighting, they will nonetheless not take it to an extreme. They will not punch each other in the face as hard as they can. They will not claw each other's eyes out. They will not break each other's bones.
Why? Because even though they are inflamed at one another, they still recognize the bigger picture. After all, they are still siblings. These brothers are still on the same team, they still love each other, and they still believe in the larger concept of living together in a unified family.
In our democracy when Republicans have political differences with Democrats, is this more like a fight to the death, or more like a fight between siblings within a family?
Republicans clearly view this as a fight to the death. They are willing to pull out all the stops and fight tooth and nail. They view Democrats as an existential threat and a mortal enemy that must be destroyed at all cost.
The latest outburst of this Republican hostility is on display right before our very eyes in the matter of replacing the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia. The Republicans immediately flew into a rage and began fighting as if their entire existence were suddenly under imminent threat.
The Senate Republicans have refused to even hold a vote on President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, and many Republicans will not even extend the courtesy of meeting with Judge Garland.
The only little problem with this obstruction, of course, is that there is no constitutional basis for it.
But no matter. The Republicans don't care one whit. They care only about power. Republicans are not hampered by having to abide by principles, morals, faith, integrity, or even their supposedly beloved Constitution. They don't even care about doing what is best for ordinary people, or even for the nation. Instead, Republicans are driven by possessing power and control for themselves.
And in order to satisfy this lust for power, Republicans are willing to fight too hard to get it. Way too hard.
We have seen this over and over again, especially in recent years.
One prime example was the government shutdown of 2013. Republicans were so adamant about having their own way that they were willing to shut down the entire government and cause the United States to default on its debt, which would have plunged the entire world into a financial fiasco. But Republicans didn't care. If Republicans couldn't get their own way, well, then, they were willing to blow it all up and ruin everything for everyone.
Gridlock is another example. From the moment President Obama set foot in the Oval Office, the Republicans openly adopted a political strategy of deliberately creating gridlock by blocking anything and everything in order to intentionally cause so much frustration across the land that the people would finally, although unfairly, blame the man in the White House. The Republicans did not care one iota about all of the pain and suffering they were inflicting upon ordinary people across the nation. They cared only about getting their own way of tarnishing Obama in order to retake the presidency for themselves.
The examples go on and on. Just think of Benghazi. For crying out loud, this was an attack against our very own fellow Americans. It was obviously not Hillary Clinton's fault. Yet the Republicans pulled out all the stops and abandoned any measure of decency in trying to blame Benghazi on Hillary Clinton for the political purpose of destroying her presidential candidacy.
Democrats do not engage in this sort of destructive warfare against Republicans. Over the years there have been a number of similar foreign attacks against Americans during Republican administrations, and Democrats have not sunk so low as to turn them into political issues by trying to blame the attacks on Republicans.
In fact, the September 11th terrorist attack occurred under the Republican President George W. Bush. But the Democrats did not abandon all decency and seek to exploit this for political gain by trying to blame it all on President Bush. My goodness, just think if a Democrat had been president then. The Republicans would still be having a field day with that one.
Another example of Republican fanatical hostility is the tizzy over Hillary Clinton's emails. This was hardly some dark and sinister plot. It was a matter of convenience that we can all relate to. And it was hardly any sort of a secret because all of Hillary's emails for years, including emails sent to Republicans, displayed her email address clearly showing that she was not using a government computer server. In addition, prior secretaries of state, including Republicans, had also used personal email addresses in the exact same manner. Yet nonetheless, Republicans are using this silly issue to fight to the death in an attempt to destroy Hillary's presidential candidacy so they can seize the presidency for themselves.
The Republicans also waged an endless witch-hunt of an investigation that eventually culminated in the House of Representatives impeaching Democratic President Bill Clinton. Whoa! This must have been serious! What high crimes did President Clinton commit that so drastically undermined the office of the presidency? Well, he engaged in an incident of extramarital sexual conduct.
Seriously? Yeah. I know. It's absurd.
And never mind how many Republicans had engaged in extramarital affairs themselves. But no matter. The Republicans just fight, fight, fight as hard as they can regardless of whether it is right or wrong.
Just for the record, this little impeachment stunt did not remove President Clinton from the presidency because the Senate ended the shenanigans by voting against impeachment.
It's rather funny because all of these flimsy accusations against Democrats pale in comparison to the truly sinister acts that have actually been committed by Republicans. Despite all their bluster and ballyhoo against Democrats, it all amounts to nonsense, and instead, it is the Republicans that have an appalling record of abusing power.
None other than the very hero of the modern day Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, was the guy who engaged in the outrageously illegal Iran-Contra scandal.
President Reagan illegally sold weapons to Iran (yes, Iran!) in violation of the sanctions against Iran in exchange for the release of a few American hostages in order to make Reagan falsely appear as a hero in America.
And if that weren't enough, Reagan also secretly diverted the proceeds from these weapons sales to illegally fund one of his covert rebel groups the Contras in Nicaragua, which funding had been expressly prohibited by Congress under the Boland Amendment.
Wow! Now this was some seriously illegal activity that required enormous planning and coordination. And not only did the Reagan administration blatantly violate the law and abuse their power, but they also engaged in an elaborate cover-up scheme to hide their wrongdoing.
Just imagine if Obama would have done something like this. The Republicans would be apoplectic!
And let's not forget about the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of Republican President Richard Nixon. In the heat of President Nixon's reelection campaign, the Nixon team secretly hired a group of burglars to physically break into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (located in an office building in Washington, D.C. named "Watergate") to steal information that Nixon could use against the Democrats in his presidential reelection campaign. Stunning!
The subsequent investigation revealed that the Nixon administration had been engaged in a massive cover-up filled with all sorts of lies and deception in order to hide their illicit activities. The investigation also uncovered a number of other abuses of power by the Nixon administration, such as bugging the offices of political opponents, and inappropriately using the power of the FBI, CIA, and IRS to conduct surveillance and harassment against citizens who were politically opposed to Nixon.
These are indeed extremely serious and outrageous abuses of power by the Republicans. President Obama never even came close to any such acts that were so utterly repugnant to our democracy. The Republicans, however, are willing to go to any lengths whatsoever, legal or illegal, moral or immoral, in order to have their own way.
The list of Republican war crimes against our democracy runs on and on. The Republicans sought to ignore the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. They have been enacting frivolous regulations across the country that impose enormous burdens upon abortion clinics specifically designed to force the clinics out of business. And Republicans have been busy enacting so-called "voter ID" laws specifically designed to deter citizens from voting.
These actions are all shockingly anti-democratic, and often just downright dirty tricks.
Even though the Republicans have been successful with some of their destructive tactics, they are imposing a much greater cost upon our society. Such bitter fighting is having a detrimental effect upon the nation overall.
For one thing, it is extremely undignified for people who are supposedly the nation's top leaders to display such disgraceful behavior.
But mainly, all of this fighting has the effect of setting an example for the entire nation. When ordinary people throughout the country look to our leaders, what do they see? They see our leaders denouncing citizens of the opposing political party in the most vile of terms. They see our leaders inciting fear and paranoia by claiming that the other party poses dangerous threats. They see our leaders vehemently attacking and disparaging our very own institutions of government.
All of this divisiveness and destructiveness has the effect of turning people against each other throughout the land, and weakening the cohesiveness of our society overall.
We as a nation are a family. We consist of Republicans and Democrats alike, just like families consist of brothers and sisters. It is understandable that siblings will disagree from time to time, but when siblings fight, they never fight too hard. They never fight to destroy each other because doing so would destroy the family.
We as a nation are comprised of roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. Our way forward is not to fight as hard as we can against each other in order for one group to vanquish the other and dominate and control the other. No. Our way forward is together. Our way forward is to share our self-governance. Our way forward is to cooperate.
Our way forward is to follow our constitutional system of government. This means that we must honor and respect our system's peaceful and democratic transitions of power from one party to the other, including at the Supreme Court.
Like responsible parents who set a good example for the entire family, we need responsible leaders who set a good example for the entire nation.
We need leaders who do not fight with reckless abandon, but instead who are dignified and honorable, and who exemplify the grander vision of keeping us all together.