From no consensus to open hatred

I want to share something (with permission) a friend wrote:

I have seen and heard the most vile and hate mongering commentary from the voting (and non-voting) community this year than ever before. I understand all the frustration and anger being felt, as well as having the freedom of voicing “colorful” opinions. I’m referring to those people who display a mind-boggling depth of out-of-control anger that has them speaking and writing such horrifying commentary. This kind of behavior speaks more to their own character than that of the candidates. If that kind of hatred could make a positive difference or affect change that’s one thing. But there seems to be too many people out there who feel horrible inside themselves on a daily basis (that has nothing to do with politics), and this election season has been an excuse to spit it out into the world with a vengeance.

How sadly true. The anger is growing and that disturbs me, as it should disturb anyone. I think that one side of the political coin has been feeding off of, deliberately feeding into, and capitalizing on fear for a couple of decades and now that anger has been given a pseudo-legitimacy, well, they went pro on the fear long ago and seem to me to be licking their chops at the opportunities anger presents.

king1I’ve maintained for quite some time that I don’t think I’ll see consensus in our government again in my lifetime. I’ve watched the American political process devolve starting with Reagan, and then that division concreting into written policy with Newt Gingrich (the GOPAC memo “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control” of 1994). Garry Trudeau, in 2008 nailed that memo spot on as the “founding document of the modern hate-speech movement”; the “Magna Carta of Attack Politics”:

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Karl Rove elevated the game with campaign strategies of using governing policy to increase attacks on political opponents and further the division of the parties, as well as generating more fear in the voting populace. When was the last time you heard “Orange Alert”? (Hint: during a particular reelection year and oddly whenever Rove’s boss was slipping in the polls.)

The all-in “No” to anything and everything Democrat that followed Barrack Obama’s election crested at the midterm elections of 2010, pounding the final nail in the coffin that holds, may it rest in peace, all hope at political consensus.  Speaker of the House John Boehner said “this is not the time for compromise.” And Mitch McConnell’s “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” is often quoted without the context of him claiming to be willing to work with Obama if Obama was “willing to meet us halfway.” Of course, the net was higher on Obama’s side of McConnell’s tennis court and “halfway”, in reality, well… wasn’t. The next six years were a comically tragic exercise in non-productivity, with the House voting who knows how many times to repeal Obamacare in part or entirety (and incidentally, proposing no replacement) and completely flabbergasting statement of the Senate Majority Leader blaming the President for not explaining his reasons for vetoing their Saudi lawsuit bill. It is unbecoming of me to call Mr. Mitch an idiot, but really? The President vetoed the bad bill! Overturning the veto – with the commensurate consequences – is totally…totally…on Congress.

13149191And it is impossible to ignore the Ailes Channel and talk radio – fanning the flames of division since inception. Gone is any pretense of journalism and integrity. Give Vince McMahon’s World “Wrestling” Entertainment a “conservative” political makeover, jack it to unprecedented lows, load it with personalities like O’Reilly, Hannity, and the sty of other heads and you’ve got a propaganda apparatus that hammers the wedge in deeper with every utterance of Newt’s language that matters.

Any hint at compromise is a sign of weakness … to the perverse depths of even Mr. No-Compromise Boehner being ousted for engaging in …wait for it!…(non)bipartisanship! So, yes, I did not expect to see consensus again.

fe4bbe81600a40063594e597e00eb05b_xlBut then 2016 comes along and defies everything to date. I’m sure that someone predicted the rise of a vile, racist opportunist, misogynistic, xenomisic, serial lying self-admitted sexual predator who incites and encourages violence. A note on that word “xenomisic”, with the red squiggle in my editor that says it isn’t a word. The suffix “-misia” denotes “hatred of” and I’ve coined it now. I learned through research that “homomisia” and “homomisic” were recommended at least as far back as 2003 so I can’t claim coinage on them… Anyway, that predator’s eventual nomination was a surprise, if his pomposity wasn’t. But the mind-numbing backing shouldn’t have been a surprise given the trend since 1994, and I admit being wholly unprepared for the masses of dregs suddenly no longer feeling bound by societal conventions.

Hate-speech becomes a norm and is excused, accepted, even encouraged by those masses. So-called locker room talk is dismissed by masquerading paragons of Christian virtue as “macho“. And then news of this breaks yesterday:

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What kind of person does something like that? It goes against all critical thinking to conclude with insufficient data, but I probably won’t be wrong if I think it has something to do with the candidate and his message. And mentioning the candidate, I was surprised at how long it took me to track down a response from the named campaign. In any civilized world…okay, semi-civilized – the vandalism is quite obvious, even if a link to the fire may not be, thus “civilized” is too generous a word…the politicians named would be racing to condemn the action and disassociate any connection. Seemed too long for that guy.

stock-photo-9558300-delete-keyHard as it may be for some who know me to believe, I hit the delete/backspace key more than not lately. It’s been socks, yard decorations, book reviews, and the occasional pun. And yet, despite that deliberate, conscious effort, I recently shared a link on a friend’s post that showed the original post to be false. I was subsequently attacked ad nauseam by someone I do not know for declining to engage in an off-topic hijacking. I did not want to litter the friend’s page, but I did respond, professionally, to some of the uninformed, inflammatory, and completely wrong characterizations of me…for not engaging! And I tried unsuccessfully to recenter the digression from the original post in that same professional manner, disengaging politely. Imagine my surprise to see that the aggressor messaged me on FB to continue the lambasting!

The hatred of the young person (I admit I checked – the persister was born the year before I was married) took me aback despite seeing it so much more in the news every day and on social media. Now, that young person was friends with my friend, but I’m seeing many more people jumping in on pages of people they do not know because “your post showed up in my feed and I had to tell you you were stupid”, or words to that effect. My daughter-in-law regularly gets such trolls on her posts. But that’s not all.

I am profoundly saddened when I have to “unfollow” family to keep from seeing racist posts. Yes…relatives. And racism. And posts in vigorous support of that billionaire – who somehow with all of his sins that are mortal in pretty much every religious book, is still not as bad as his opponent? I can “unfriend” people I find too unredeeming to stay “friends” with, but what am I to do with the relatives?

I am afraid for our country. I think that the alarmingly diminishing odds favor He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named slinking away to his new network and failed hotels. Now, if the unthinkable happens, I do believe that I will see consensus in my lifetime, if only to keep the insanity in check.

But I don’t think I’ll see the hatred gone any time soon. I feel he and his campaign have opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box engendering the hatred and empowered the hateful, and those are not going away. I wish they would, but the hidden beasts are out of the closet (I bet they hate that reference), and I can’t unsee what my relatives have posted.

I can, however…look on the bright side.

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