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I have to agree that these T-shirts- both of them- are funny

The problem- and it's a big one- is that too many people on both ends of the political spectrum don't have a sense of humor. They either don't laugh at good-natured, hyperbolic ribbing along ideological lines, or- probably more common and even worse- don't realize that it's a joke.

That said, what the "Powerline" post has to say needs expanding on. The thing is a two-edged sword.

I've spent a lot of time on this blog criticizing Donald Trump, whom I believe is a true threat to our democratic values, the moral survival (and perhaps he actual survival) of the Republican party, the Bill of Rights, the moral and spiritual condition of our nation, and perhaps even our national security. Let it be said that I also think that Bernie Sanders (even more than Hillary Clinton) is naive, economically illiterate, and would also be a disaster as president.

But he is not a Marxist, as people I like and respect repeatedly claim. And while I agree that his values are a threat to the values of the Bill of Rights- that's true of the values of the totalitarian Left generally- Bernie, unlike Trump, has never overtly encouraged violence against those who disagree with him. I don't know the man, and I may misread him entirely, but I see him as a woefully misguided and intellectually befuddled but good-hearted man who is simply wrong about practically everything.

Bernie and The Donald are not the same. Not remotely. For one thing, misguided as they very often are, Bernie has both convictions and a conscience. But the proverb about the boy who cried "Wolf!" applies here. If we take hyperbole seriously, and call Bernie a Marxist and actually believe those comparisons to Lenin and so forth, people might actually end up voting for somebody like Donald Trump in the primaries and there might be a danger of his becoming his party's nominee for president. After all, people might reason, the stuff people say about him is only so much hyperbole, isn't it?

I don't think The Donald is going to open concentration camps any more than Bernie Sanders is going to collectivize Iowa farms. I don't think Trump knows enough about the Constitution or history or the art of governing a nation to have evil, totalitarian intentions, either. But while there are lots of silly people in  back of Bernie Sanders, essentially the motivation out of which the operate is misguided sympathy for the underdog.

The motivations and emotions to which Trump appeals and which fuel his campaign to say the least are far less admirable And if our penchant for not simply humorously engaging in but actually believing over-the-top rhetoric has numbed us to the point where we actually can't tell the difference, our nation is in even deeper trouble than I think it is.

By all means, let's laugh at each other. The trick is  not to lose our capacity for recognizing when ii's a joke and when it's  no longer funny.


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