In any political conflict between extremists and non-extremists, the non-extremists start with one serious disadvantage. They tend to be conflict-averse. Moderate-minded people tend naturally to be people of moderate temperament. When they encounter rage, hate, and paranoia, they flinch. Extremists, on the other hand, delight in conflict. Simply by being louder and nastier, they bully the non-extremists into silence, acquiescence, or exit. Which happens to be the recent history of the Republican party.

What America needs now, and what the Republican party most especially needs, are moderate-minded people who are also tough-minded — who won’t be shrieked down and who won’t be intimidated. “Civility” cannot mean: you yell, I yield. Conservatives deplore those old-line 1960s liberals who shriveled up when challenged by student radicals and Black Power militants. Well, now it’s happening in our house, and it is we who are being tested: Do we dare confront our own radicals? It’s not enough to have greater wisdom, greater tolerance, and greater patriotism if you don’t also muster courage, endurance, and will to win. Otherwise, you’re playing by Weimar rules.