One man's punishment is another man's abuse. Literally. Nobody admits to being an abuser, but punishing "them that deserve it" is widely practiced. Who "deserves" to be punished? Well, if one listens to the Cons' assertion that everybody is born evil, punishment and deprivation are the default conditions and the right to go on living has to be earned.
However, it's not necessary to be overt and posit an ideological rationalization. Abuse spawns resentment and then resentment turns around and punishes to even the score. It's a reverse cost/benefit situation in which the loss and deprivation are visited on strangers.
Abusers punish someone else because they can't retaliate against whoever beat them up. In a just society there'd be an intervention and abusers would not get away with their behavior from the get go.
A society which tolerates abuse is unjust.
So, what are we to make of citizens who are convinced that the sole function of public corporations is to be punitive? They have apparently taken the proposition that only agents of government may punish and substituted the belief that their sole function is to punish. They see the President as Disciplinarian-in-Chief. No wonder Obama strikes them as weak.
How to explain the difference between the use of force being restricted to governments and governments being restricted to using force?
Do flawed individuals, like Mark Sanford, get elected because citizens expect them to know punishment is not nice and to restrain themselves in meting it out? Or, again like Sanford, do they just want to get the abusers out of town? Is that how we end up with a Capitol full of clowns?