Won’t Back Down?

If you back a rat into a corner, it may turn around and make a stand that sends you — a much bigger and scarier creature altogether — scampering for safety.

Much of the art of politics consists in choosing very carefully which corners to back people into, and what to demand of people so cornered.

No one eagerly accepts defeat or humiliation. And the political mind is always attuned to precedent: how will the outcome in this corner affect what happens in the next?

It’s tempting to insist on a total outcome: this always to rats.

But it’s worth asking: if we do this to those we’ve cornered, what might happen to us when we’re cornered?