Tolerate the intolerant? I don’t think so.

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I generally agree with NY Times columnist Frank Bruni, but not this time.

According to Bruni, The Democrats Screwed Up.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Republicans won because they were willing to betray American law and Constitutional principles.[/pullquote]

Despite all the discussion of demographic forces that doomed the G.O.P., it will soon control the presidency as well as both chambers of Congress and two of every three governor’s offices. And that’s not just a function of James Comey, Julian Assange and misogyny. Democrats who believe so are dangerously mistaken.

Other factors conspired in the party’s debacle. One in particular haunts me. From the presidential race on down, Democrats adopted a strategy of inclusiveness that excluded a hefty share of Americans and consigned many to a “basket of deplorables” who aren’t all deplorable. Some are hurt. Some are confused.

We’re supposed to tolerate the intolerant.

Liberals miss this by being illiberal. They shame not just the racists and sexists who deserve it but all who disagree. A 64-year-old Southern woman not onboard with marriage equality finds herself characterized as a hateful boob. Never mind that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton weren’t themselves onboard just five short years ago.

Political correctness has morphed into a moral purity that may feel exhilarating but isn’t remotely tactical. It’s a handmaiden to smugness and sanctimony, undermining its own goals.

I don’t think so.

The Republican success is undeniable but it was NOT achieved by Bruni’s strategy — understanding why the majority of the country votes Democratic or pondering Obama’s successes. That idea is ludicrous. The Republicans captured all three branches of government because they were willing to stretch American law and Constitutional principles out of all recognition.

1. They hold the House because of gerrymandering. If House seats were apportioned based on the proportion of people who vote for Democrats, it would be overwhelmingly Democratic. Gerrymandering involves carving House electoral districts to favor the party in power within a state. It is a deliberate tactic to frustrate the will of the voters and substitute the will of the political elite.

2. Gerrymandering allowed Republicans to achieved their victory by a deliberate campaign of shutting government down both literally and figuratively. Mitch McConnell and his colleagues played the long game. They gambled that by using intransigence to break the government, they could benefit from the desperation of those who perceived government as broken. They were right.

3. They achieved their victory by mobilizing the forces of hate. Anyone who thinks that hate wasn’t on the ballot is living in a dream world. Trump used hate to rile up a large segment of the population and bet that the rest were perfectly willing to live with hate, intimidation, discrimation and violence if they thought they could find economic relief.

4. They achieved their victory by lying. From the past 25 years, from Fox News to Breibart, the Republican press has engaged in a propaganda campaign that would make the Nazis proud. They learned from Hitler: if you tell a lie big enough for long enough, people will believe it.

5. They achieved their victory by criminalizing the political opposition. I suspect that when historians come to write the story of Trump’s election, they will begin not with his decision to run, but with Ken Starr’s investigation that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Hillary Clinton’s loss is a direct consequence of the 25 year campaign to frustrate the electoral will of the voters by constantly prosecuting Democratic winners. The lesson they learned from the Clinton impeachment was not that prosecuting your political opponents doesn’t work (though it didn’t work that time). The lesson they took away was that they didn’t try hard enough. They spent the next 25 years spending billions investigating Hillary Clinton, finding nothing, but betting that the mere act of investigating her would cast a pall of suspicion that she would never shake.

The Republicans control all three branches of government because they were willing to ignore the Constitution and frustrate the will of the people by gerrymandering, breaking the government, mobilizing the forces of hate, telling monstrous lies and criminalizing the opposition party.

The idea that the Democratic party could have won if it had been more inclusive of the intolerant is naive in the extreme. It is the naïveté of Bruni and other liberals that has allowed this to happen, not the failure to embrace the intolerant.

Republicans made tactical decisions to put their insatiable appetite for political power ahead of the needs of the people of the United States. And it worked.

Is there any well-informed person who does not think Bill Clinton would have done more to help Americans, including those of the Republican party, if he had not been frustrated by Republican intransigence and the impeachment?

Is there any well-informed person who does not think that Barack Obama would have done more to help Americans, including those of the Republican party, if he had not been frustrated by the Republican tactical decision to break the government and thereby thwart all his efforts to improve the economic fortunes of everyone?

Is there any well-informed person who does not think that Hillary Clinton would have done more to help the intolerant than Donald Trump and the Republicans are ever going to to do?

To imagine that the election results would have been different if liberals had been more tolerant of the intolerant is quaintly and tragically liberal. It reflects a world view that we can all live in harmony if we just try harder to understand each other. And it is worse than wrong. By ignoring the massive, long-term tactical effort that the Republican’s made to capture all three branches of government we’ve missed the most important lesson: their deliberate political tactics worked.

Tolerate the intolerant? I don’t think so.

To paraphrase Bruni, tolerating the intolerant is political correctness morphed into moral purity; it may feel exhilarating but isn’t remotely tactical. Indeed, it’s the exact opposite of a winning strategy.

To win we have to fight the political tactics that have been used against us — gerrymandering, intransigence, hate, propaganda and misuse of laws — not withdraw into the liberal fantasy that all we ever need is greater sympathy and more understanding.