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The hate of '68 created our current climate of hatred

The hate of '68 created our current climate of hatred
Chicago Tribune photo.

In 1968, the late great Mike Royko wrote a column, "LBJ Deserved a Better Fate." The column was about Lyndon Baines Johnson's decision not to run for another term as president.

Royko describes a hatred in the country that crossed all demographics.

Royko relates the hate directed at the President from everyone in every place. He made reference to the hatred of Americans for each other. Race, class, activists, anti-activists, politicians, workers, the unemployed, the list goes on.

Image: Chicago Tribune

Image: Chicago Tribune

Royko was prescient. 1968 was the onset of a divisive hatred that finally broke America in 2016. A hatred that turned a good people into mindless feral herds out for blood.

The hate is white hot, furious, and spews forth like molten lava and hot ash from a volcano. It leaves toxic waste in its wake.

Our people pledged allegiance to political parties, ideology, or single issues. Their allegiance took on religious fervor.

People and the people they elect to office refuse to consider the ideas of others. They are right. Everyone else is wrong.

America is fast becoming a nation of closed minded absolutists. A nation of ignorance and fear. A nation of hate.

Our elected officials and the people who elected them are no longer loyal patriotic Americans. They only love and are loyal to their party, ideology and narrow points of view to the exclusion of all other thoughts, ideas, voices, and people.

Those who disagree must be hated, shunned, bullied, and shamed in a spiteful war of words. They must be shouted down and shut up. Social media made this way too easy.

In the herds, everyone must think alike. General George S. Patton said, "If everyone is thinking alike, no one is thinking."

No one is thinking in the United States.

Contrary to popular belief, we are not a kind and gentle nation. Americans are always looking for a fight. For some reason, that defies logic, we need an enemy.

In the current festering political climate, the enemy is within. We are each other's enemy.

The divisions and hatred deepened when President Obama took office. Over eight years American fractured into divisive pieces. The rifts became wider. The chasms became deeper. Our solidarity as a nation was destroyed.

Hatred is rearing its ugly head of destruction with the incoming presidency of Donald Trump. If Barack Obama was loved and reviled, Donald Trump is abhorred. Trump brings out the worst in people, his defenders and detractors alike.

It is not just the incoming president fueling this hate. There is a general mistrust of all our institutions. Government, journalism, religion, academia, military, and law enforcement, to name a few.

The absolutist vitriol is deeper than the clash of ideas between right and left, Democrats and Republicans. America is forming into groups of extremists of all kinds. Extremism breeds blind hatred.

It is no longer palatable to agree to disagree. Compromise, a core principle and value in American politics, is a dirty word. People and politicians no longer want to find common ground to solve problems or create sound public policy.

The system is broke. America is broken.

America is a nation of one-way streets and dead ends. We see it throughout all levels of government and society.

Politicians and bigwigs from both parties put their hatred on display regularly on the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives.

We see hatred in the segments of news media, who turned criticism into adversarial hatred.

Academia, America's once crowning glory of education, is indoctrinating and producing ignorant uneducated haters.

Hatred is in the streets. Activists and protesters are no longer angry. They are hateful.

Hatred is in the pulpits, spewed by the clergy of all faiths.

The hate of '68 rose in a crescendo to the destructive hate of 2016.

Chicago Tribune photo.

Chicago Tribune photo.

If the election of Donald Trump is any indication, there will be no peace in our time.

The absolutists and their loyal disciples will continue to work against each other in a spirit of disharmony.

Ideologies will clash. The fractures will widen and deepen.

The herds will fight, scoring phyric victories with crushing defeats, leaving wrack and ruin in their wake.

A government cannot effectively govern without compromise. A people cannot live in harmony without tolerance.

The American people, over the decades, allowed a government that cannot govern and an intolerant social fabric too wild to tame.

Righteous anger is a good thing if it leads to constructive and productive change. When that anger turns to hatred only destruction and entrenchment occur.

President Obama entered office with a heavy burden. He was the nation's first African-American president. He represented what was supposed to be a change in this nation's sordid racial past.

Obama's election brought hope to many across the racial and ethnic demographic spectrum. Hope for them and their children. Hope for a brighter future. Hope that no matter your background, America has a seat for you at the table.

President Obama faced scorn and derision, in congress and in the nation. He rose above the fray with dignity and class. Even some of his vociferous political opponents concede the president was decent and a man of integrity.

History will judge President Obama. In fifteen or twenty years, we will learn if he was a great, mediocre, or bad president. We will know if our love or hate of the man was misplaced or rewarded.

The last two sentences of Royko's piece resonate today. "Maybe he wasn't the best president we might have had. But we sure as hell aren't the best people a president has ever had."

In today's climate of hate, we are no longer the best people a country ever had.

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