We've all likely observed that civility in government has taken a major-league hit in the last 10 or so years.  Apparently in Wisconsin, where the Republican Party has a virtual lock on state government (and yet went for Obama in 2012!), any sign or change of compromise, cooperation or even civility has completely gone by the boards.

This was observed by Rachel Maddow in one of her television broadcasts and further commented on by the Daily Kos.  Submitted for your approval:

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To say that I find this kind of behavior frightening is to understate the case to the point of criminality.  If a government devolves to the point where rights of the minority are lost to the tyranny of the majority, then democracy is in deep trouble and EVERYONE - Republican, Democrat and Independent - should be worried as hell.

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Loren, how much credibility do you give to the historians who say the behavior of politicians in America's first decade was less civil than that of politicians now?

Jefferson's opponents called him an atheist and Obama's opponents call him a Muslim.

Hamilton died as the result of a duel; Rand Paul hinted at that now-illegal option.

For decades poor people died of starvation.

Good point, Tom.  I'm not a student of history.  I know this and that, but haven't dug into the details, and maybe I should.  It's possible that, as with many other social trends, these things go in cycles.  Still, I wonder when the last time was that our representatives became so polarized and intransigent that they refused to bargain, refused to compromise, and took a "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude.  Such a time predates my life, I'm pretty sure, and a healthy portion of what I know of the history of the 20th century.  Even Roosevelt's packing the Supreme Court in the 30s doesn't match up to the current day, or I don't think it does.

As to Jefferson and Hamilton (and Burr) and that, the only thing I can guess is that those events and those around them reflected a nation not settled into a steady-state condition, that it was still suffering from the transients resulting from the event of its creation.  Then again, I'm an engineer, and we see stuff like that in terms of transient and steady-state solutions.  As regards that, a relatively new variable has been introduced: a variable that wants to behave like a constant, that doesn't want to change, and wants the rest of the system to conform to it.  That event appears to me to have created a new transient, a pretty ugly one, and any engineer will tell you that computing the solution when things are in flux is a far more difficult task than dealing with the equation where the dust has settled.

This new trend worries the hell outta me, Tom ... and if anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear 'em.

...a variable that wants to behave like a constant, that doesn't want to change, and wants the rest of the system to conform to it.

The GOP's Tea Partiers? Its evangelicals? Its libertarians?

Each and every member of each of the above is a transient -- believing it's constant, refusing to change, and wanting the rest of us to conform.

Way back when I was studying differential equations I believed steady states lasted long enough to describe, transients were few enough to approximate, and computers could solve the equations.

Then someone told me we don't have the computing power to do more than guess at the weather.

And then I got into politics.

Yeah.  Are we having fun yet?




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