I generally try not to personalize politics, but few people have done more lasting harm to the institutions of democracy in this country the Tom "The Hammer" DeLay. I do not refer here to his policies (e.g., collapse of fiscal responsibility). I refer to the K St. Project, the 2002 redistricting, and other steps takien to created what DeLay himself called "the permanent Republican majority."
Legitimacy is a funny thing. Most people in the U.S. have lived with it so long we have forgotten its importance. DeLay's emphasis on winning not merely a short term political fight, but to fundamentally change the nature and character of political institutions, undermined the legitimacy of the process. And most folks outside of DC don't know the half of it.
And the Democrats will respond if they get power. They must. Failure to respond in kind will be seen by Republicans as weakness and Democrates in the base as betrayal. In fact, if the Dems win in November, I expect a two-year purging that will make the worst Republican excess seem like naughty pranks.
And there is nothing that can be done to stop it. Because politics has a set of real laws that govern just as solidly as the laws of economics govern industrial behavior and the laws of physics govern radio. Tom DeLay set the current avalanche in motion. It can no longer stop with his removal, or even a change of party, anymore than a snowflake can decide to stop the avalanche or a single cow can stop the stampede.
Ugly times ahead.