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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

America's fresh wave of tough-guy politics, coupled with protests that harass unpopular public servants who appear in the public sphere, has encouraged a dramatic escalation in political rhetoric.

Why it matters: Norms are hard to create, and easy to unravel. The shock factor of hearing grown men use such charged metaphors may have worn off, but that doesn't mean Americans have to resign themselves into accepting this as normal.

Driving the news: Pennsylvania's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Scott Wagner, is featured in a new video where he tells his opponent:

  • "You better put a catcher's mask on your face because I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes because I'm going to win this for the state of Pennsylvania."

Flashback to Wednesday: Eric Holder said Michelle Obama's "when they go low, we go high" slogan was too soft, and should instead be:

  • "No, when they go low, we kick them... When I say we kick them, I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate, we don’t do anything illegal, but we have to be tough and we have to fight."

Between the lines: Politicians are not to blame for the actions of others, but they can do their part to cool the rhetoric in these abnormally heated times.

  • Remember: In the past two years, we've had a gunman attempt to assassinate Republicans on a baseball diamond, and a white supremacist kill a woman with his car in Charlottesville.

What's next: Rep. Steve Scalise, who was nearly killed on that diamond, has pushed back on the recent rhetoric:

  • On Holder: "As a survivor of a politically motivated attack, it is tragic to think this is an acceptable state of political discourse in our country. I refuse to stand for it. Democratic leaders need to condemn, rather than promote these dangerous calls to action."
  • On Wagner: "These comments are totally unacceptable. As I’ve said many times before, there is absolutely no place in our politics for this kind of rhetoric."

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
15 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.