One of the reasons we should, as I suggested on Wednesday, brace ourselves for four more years of governmental dysfunction is that, whatever the numbers may tell us, the primary reaction to Tuesday’s election may be one of unbridled hatred. I caught a taste of this from one of this morning’s calls made to C-SPAN by an irate listener (eventually cut off) who fomented about what was really wrong with the country, which was a failure of immigrants to recognize “American values.” When pressed by the announcer as to just what those values were, the result was a tirade about how democratic values always lead to dictatorship and must give way to republican values as the basis for stable government. (Since this was radio, there was no way to tell whether the speaker was using upper or lower case for those adjectives.) Then we had the FOX40 news story about a woman from Turlock (California), who used Facebook to rant about the election results, managing to include both the N-word and “assassination” in a single thirteen-word post.
The fact is that, if social capital were traded on a stock
exchange, its value would be on the rise due to a growing enthusiasm for hate
speech. I suspect we have Bill Clinton to thank for this, not for what he did
but for how he provoked it. By beating the Republicans at their own game,
Clinton inspired the Republican Party, at that time under the spell of Newt
Gingrich, to plant a Blake-like “poison tree” nurtured by every possible
expression of raw hatred. By now just about any politician interested in
survival has made use of the fruits of that tree, the most notable exception
being our President, who has become the most prominent target of that hatred,
as Clinton had been during his second term of office.
Is it any wonder that a government motivated by nothing
other than hatred should be so dysfunctional?