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Andrew M. Lindner, Fargo, Published November 02 2013

Letter: Talk of treason is not helpful

Republicans in the U.S. House “came dangerously close to treason,” writes Dudley Wells in an Oct. 30 letter. Though I agree with Wells that the government shutdown was irresponsible, to suggest that it amounts to treason exacerbates a political culture of incivility that makes it harder to seriously address important questions about the future of our society.

Wells also compares the House Republicans to “spoiled children.” In fact, quite unlike irrational children, the conservative movement in the U.S. has strategically mobilized over the past 35 years, carefully re-framing issues, expanding conservative mass media and redistricting to their electoral advantage. The upshot, as research by political scientists like Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal demonstrates, has been the institutionalization of an increasingly far right group of Republicans in Congress. In short, conservatives have been strategic and effective in pursuing their cause, not at all child-like.

While I personally view the Republican Party’s ideology and recent tactics as misguided and economically damaging, mischaracterizations and extreme language don’t help us achieve reasonable solutions to our nation’s problems.