A lot of people think the term “decimation” just means to utterly destroy or wreck something. It actually is a military term derived from a form of punishment in which one in every ten members of a given unit that was guilty of some crime (usually cowardice or treason) was killed. The very existence of such a word indicates the reality that, while cowardice is a terrible flaw of human character, it is normally thought to be worthy of menial punishment, except in certain situations – and in those situations, where cowardice can cause untold damage and havoc, it must be met with the harshest forms of punishment imaginable.
The last Western war to face a potentially critical mass of cowardice on the battlefield was World War I. In defense of the soldiers (particularly British and French) in question, warfare during World War I was an unimaginably hellish experience, perhaps unlike any before or since. The industrial revolution had allowed mankind to develop weapons that were capable of inflicting previously unimagined levels of human slaughter, yet military tactics had not yet successfully grappled with how to properly utilize infantry under these conditions. As a result, in the opening days of the war, men were sent senselessly across open fields into the teeth of open artillery and machine gun barrages, resulting in daily casualty figures that outstrip most modern multi-year wars. This led to the most well known feature of World War I, wherein soldiers dug trenches in the earth because to stay above the surface for any prolonged period of time represented suicide.
Nevertheless it was not an acceptable state of affairs for the French and British to remain in their trenches and the Germans to remain in theirs. The nature of warfare demanded that one side or the other eventually had to win and neither would have accepted the status quo as the lines were drawn at the end of 1914. Accordingly, as one side or the other believed they had a tactical advantage that could be pressed in order to gain mere acres of territory, men were ordered to go “over the top” of the trenches and face the very real possibility (and in some cases probability) that they would die. In many cases men would go over the top to attempt to secure the same objective over and over, with nothing to show for it but more corpses of their friends festering in the trenches beside them. And from the end of 1914 through the war’s conclusion in 1918, the Western front in particular saw shockingly little actual movement or forward progress on either side, to the point that the average soldier might well have seen no point to the death and destruction he saw around him.
Perhaps not surprisingly in these conditions, refusal to go over the top became an endemic problem. The French army, which had previously acquitted itself with astonishing heroism and skill, began to face a total breakdown of discipline in 1917, as French soldiers who were sent to the front began to bleat like sheep during their marches, leading to a mutiny that very nearly gave the war to the Germans. The British army, as well, faced massive episodes of cowardice, especially while Lord Kitchener’s army was being ground to obliteration in the abbatoir of the Somme in 1916. The responses of British and French high command which finally righted the ship and saved Europe from German hegemony incorporated some measure of improved wartime conditions for the troops, but also a not insignificant measure of summary execution of deserters and cowards, combined with a healthy dose of the infamous Field Punishment No. 1.
The reason for this harsh punishment is obvious: some men will refuse to go over the top unless the chances of being shot by their own side for refusing to do so outweigh the chances of being shot by the enemy for agreeing to do so. And unless you are prepared to lose a war, you have to be prepared to demonstrate to the troops on your own side that this is the calculus they face.
Let me say something right now before I go on that will hopefully forestall any screeching. Obviously, I don’t advocate for the literal shooting of anyone, much less any elected official. What follows merely refers to figuratively doing so, in the sense of causing them to lose their elections.
So anyway, with that long prelude out of the way, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) yesterday assumed the fetal position and flat refused to go over the top to fight Obama’s executive amnesty. He was aided in this by not insignificant numbers of spineless Republican senators who are frankly too afraid to face the consequences of a potential shelling for shutting down DHS. I think that we sometimes underestimate the justifiable fear people like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other Republicans feel about the prospect of losing a Senate seat. After all, to paraphrase Rod Blagojevich, a senate seat is a valuable flipping thing. Many of the people who currently have them have essentially crawled across broken glass to get them, spent vast amounts of their own money on them, and shaken thousands of hands at thousands of boring fundraisers to keep them.
Look, the reality is these people are going to do whatever they can to keep them. The absolute only way they will ever go over the top on any issue that doesn’t poll with clear majority support is if they are more afraid of us shooting them than the other side doing so. Right now, they fear that very little. They were afraid, for a time, after 2010 and to a lesser degree 2012. 2014 emboldened them. They once again believe themselves bulletproof from our side. They do not believe that refusal to go over the top will cost them their jobs. They only believe that going over the top might. And so we can expect more of the same from them over the course of the next two years.
We have to make some examples. The equation has changed. No longer is it sufficient to try to primary them. Now we have to be actively willing to help these people lose to Democrats, if need be, to discourage cowardice in this very real war for the survival of our country. Especially in the case of Republicans who represent red states/districts. Taking out a red state democrat in the general might in many cases be easier than taking out an entrenched Republican in a primary. And this is an especially difficult pill to swallow in the case of a Senate seat – but if we are not prepared to do it, then there is no point to having a Republican majority any more. The feckless cowards we have there now funded DHS in exactly the same way Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) would have. And if there’s no point to having a Republican majority anymore, then the country is lost.
Cowardice must be punished with defeat. By Democrats, if necessary. Because cowardice is cancerous and worse than frank opposition. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) is not pro-choice, she just lost her courage at the worst possible moment, and as a result a critical bloc of the caucus caved when they caught her cowardice in the trench. Her and others like her must be replaced at any and all costs. The only alternative is to prepare to accept the terms of the enemy. And hopefully we are not there yet.