The movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" features Frank Bennett, one of the most convincingly commonplace and for this reason menacing villains in modern cinema.
Frank's stupid, he's violent and he's like far too many men in the real world. He wants his way. He's a man. It's appropriate that his will be done, that his image as a fine outstanding (wait for it) MAN be honored at all times. He's outclassed in all respects by other people in his wife's life - largely by his own choice to indulge his vain temperament and lash out for his being disrespected.
Like I said, Frank's a type we see in America all too often: the bully, the batterer, the guy with the superlative weapons who only hits the headlines because he got the drop on a bunch of first graders. In general it's a pattern of choices to use intimidation, force and escalating threats and acting on same to act out against perceived loss of control.
No, it's more than that: The violence, even if not protested, is an entitlement of control. Men get to slap their wives and children around in this mindset - oh, and lesser men and women (and their kids, too), because entitled. Because respect. Because eff you, I'm a man and I get to do this.
Now, let's pivot this frame of reference to one of the simpler political disputes to come along in a while: The October 2013 attempt by the Tea Party-dominated Republicans to shutdown the government. That's not politics as usual; that's abuse.
For better or worse, cringing a bit at the forced metaphor, the two major parties are married. They're genderless, but 'spoused' for sure. They exist in a long-noted (and often-disparaged) symbiosis, a partnership bound up in the structure of how we conduct elections in a system of government designed around tournament competition as the best, albeit often uncomfortable, means to derive public policy outcomes.
Suffice to say this marriage amongst the two major parties is beset with domestic troubles. There's lots of drama, boy, is there. And more than a little roughhousing and occasional fisticuffs.
However, only one of the parties is a spouse-beater.
Only one of the parties is fuming at not getting 100% of its way.
Only one of the parties is Frank Bennett punishing a country that's leaving him behind
Only one of the parties is pushing America down the stairs.