The tendency of American voters to treat political problems as if they were occurring in an alternate universe was first noted by Matthew Yglesias during the Iraq war debate, when he coined the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics, in which the US military has unlimited powers if only it is wielded by someone with sufficient will; Julian Sanchez expanded this to the home front with the Care Bear Stare Theory of Domestic Politics: “They’d line up together and emit a glowing manifestation of their boundless caring, which seemed capable of solving just about any problem.” Sound familiar? If only people cared enough.
What we need, in other words, is not some image-conscious politician who is going to assemble some half-hearted compromise by horse-trading with various interest groups; instead, we need a hero with the will to make things happen, perhaps bolstered by a patriotic band of citizens who will stand behind him caring their little hearts out.
Unfortunately, this is not a very good description of the real world. And when all the caring and the willing fails, people start talking crazy. Faced with the unhappy reality that their desired outcomes are simply not achievable in the current political landscape, they embrace extreme, destructive measures that have no chance of succeeding. The only thing that can be said for many of these ideas is that they haven’t been tried yet. The same can be said for picking up this fork I happen to have sitting next to me and jamming it into my brain stem.