There was a time we could talk to each other, without profanity, without ridicule, without insult, but that was a long-long time ago, perhaps before I left high school. Then again, maybe my memories are clouded and it has always been this way, just not reported by a bias press on a 24/7/365 assault of the senses.
The 1960’s were a time of social change and a radicalization of our society, and in turn, our politics. It was the beginning, at least in my memory, of public vilification and insult as a political strategy. This was obvious in the opposition’s treatment of Richard Nixon. It has only escalated since then as each side exchanges a tit for tat, and the younger politicians raise the stakes as they seek to climb the political ladder.
After the 2008 financial crash, and the election of Barrack Obama there arose a grass roots movement called the “Tea Party.” Although most closely aligned with Republican’s it was not directly controlled by the party, thus is was feared by both of the political powers as a threat to the status quo. The DNC, for its part, resorted to a standard practice of vilification and name calling. It accused those who supported the tea party as racists and homophobes. This practice had worked to silence dissent and quiet critics of its policies seeking larger government in the past, and should certainly work then. Unfortunately for the DNC and its most liberal supporters it did not, and the 2010, 12, 14 elections saw increasing gains in the Congress by those who chose to align with the fiscally conservative (i.e. smaller central government) views of the movement.
Still the DNC was unable, or unwilling, to recognize their party’s move to the left was alienating that large group of centrist voters (who make up the Tea Party) and who are necessary to carry either party to victory in the Presidential election. So, after 8-years of increasingly divisive leadership and vilification we come to 2016 and the creation of an independent candidate willing to speak directly to those segments of society the two mainstream parties had cast aside.
He ran as a Republican, but his message was not the traditional Republican message. He ran as a Conservative, but nothing in his past suggested he was sincere in his conservative views. What he did do was speak to the economic problems destroying our lower and middle class citizens. Problems that had only been given lip service by the two mainstream parties for 40 plus years. Problems that while tragically real to the average man or woman, are invisible to the urban and political elite who get to run this country. Problems that are drowned out by the increasingly louder voices of the agenda driven groups the two mainstream parties choose to embrace.
At the end of the day the RNC had no choice but to nominate him as he swept through the primary competitions. The DNC choice was far easier, for they had rigged their primaries to bestow the nomination on Ms. Clinton, despite her flaws, for she was preordained to be President. Unfortunately, those flaws -- as well as other choices by her closest advisors, would result in an unexpected loss in the election. And as in the battle of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War, the world was turned upside down.
I was reminded today of something George Santayana said, “To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.”
This, almost more than any time in the recent past, rings true for me, as I listen to the hyperbole of those who lost the 2016 election, as well as those in the main stream news media who are so closely aligned with them. It is also true of the President and his advisors as they continue to lower the standard of civil discourse in response to the rhetoric of the opposition.
It seems to me communication tools like twitter require a self-disciple that is sorely lacking in a significant (perhaps majority) of its users. The President included. It is kind of like going over a bumpy road without shock absorbers. If you are not belted in you will be thrown from the car.