Sadly, in America we live in the culture of hate-based politics. It is not new. Hatred in politics is as old as Plato. The internet has taken it to new levels.
We used to put the hate aside to work on issues as a nation. Revenge, rather than finding conservative or liberal answers to society’s problems, now seems to be how we govern. The Trump agenda is driven by hate for brown people. The progressive movement hates the wealthy yet tries to mask their hostility in a cloak of “fairness.”
The hate generated by President Trump’s Twitter account is not the cause of our national loathing. It was in place long before Donald Trump and is bipartisan. However, it seems to have grown since the rise of the internet.
The crescendo increased during the Clarence Thomas hearings. That was when Ted Kennedy decided to use abortion as a political tool of hate. That marked the first time abortion became a partisan tool in a national discussion.
If the Greek mythology character of Pandora and her box exists in real life, the contents spilled onto America due to those hearings. Washington and the nation changed then. I was in the Capitol Building in those days. You could feel the tension everywhere. We went from having colleagues who threw barbs, which were meant for consumption back home, to two chambers full of people who genuinely dislike each other. Ted tried to pick up the pieces with a flash of bipartisanship post-Thomas.
He gave the GOP much that they wanted on other issues as an olive branch. It was like trying to unexplode a bomb once it hits the target. The hate unleashed in the Senate Judiciary Committee those three days in September of 1991 is still a tide pounding relentlessly in our public lives.
The Republicans and Democrats have become more like the Manson Family Cult than they are organizations working to shape society. The cult of personality is a common theme in partisan politics. Rather than cultists, we now call them movements and populists. It sounds more agreeable, but it is the same thing.
The behavior filters down to wannabe despots in local counties, towns, cities, and villages in America. The hateful conduct of party leaders in Washington is permeating local politics. Local tinhorns use hate for those who criticize them as their weapons of choice against real or imagined rivals.
Absent any useful ideas on how to fix a community’s problems, local Boss Hawgs appeal to emotion, and their call of choice is hate. The results are the locals don’t work together to fix problems because of polarization and diverting attention away from pressing issues that need resolution.
Of course, if one can’t solve an issue, diverting public attention away to an evil boogeyman takes a dim-witted politician off the hook.
We love to hide our hate by blaming the target. Donald Trump is why I hate, is something I read with frequency. It is the same script I saw during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama presidencies from their opposition.
It is not true. No one makes you hate. Hate is our individual choice. It is a choice the two major parties want us to make because it staves off asking parties and candidates embarrassing questions like, what are you doing, or going to do for us?
We need to put the hate aside and ask the tough questions. The problem is that hate works so well that politicians prefer it as a tool. It works on social media. There are no pesky editors or reporters to direct the discussion back to issues.
Hate in the world of Twitter and Facebook is a bonus for unethical or stupid politicians because there are no gatekeepers. We must become our gatekeepers. So far, that is not working out too well.
We need to stop being like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. We need to stop falling for politician’s hateful narratives. If we don’t, we will destroy our communities and our nation.