On April 13, Dan Forest delivered a speech to the intensely right-wing Civitas Institute. Civitas prosecutes politics like warfare. The group’s chest of wisdom bristles with such gems as “Calling for more minority teachers does little to address bigger problems” and “Toxic Agenda: Elections in crisis, part I.”

Their site reads like some frothy mosh pit of Yippies shrieking in delirium for world revolution.

As you can guess, Forest’s speech was a piece of work. The thrust of his remarks insinuated that God deplores the Democratic agenda. Hinting at the repeal of Social Security, our second-ranking official wondered why “we would take care of mom and dad” if we knew they had a safety net. The warrior drew this line in the sand: “The Left” has no religion but politics.

Forest might want to ask the Reverend William Barber about that. But of deeper significance was Forest’s direct attack on the good faith, literal and figurative, of half his constituents. This man harbors deep suspicions toward his fellow Americans. It’s personal. His policy program brooks no compromise; his rhetorical portfolio contains not a conciliatory page.

Team Blue could rightly wonder whether Forest is intractable. The man seems to almost literally believe their platform was written by the devil. Defeat of liberalism equates to the defeat of demons. It would require extraordinary forbearance to compromise with such a man, if indeed dealmaking is even possible.

This hypothetical points to the hard, sad fact. As long as people like Forest dominate the GOP, polarization will persist. We cannot meet on common ground if one party has built a moat, covered it with oil, and set the whole thing on fire. Fixing government will require us to change the temperament of those who govern.


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