Abetted by the ruling government in Washington hate is increasing in the US and lies are the norm. Some decry the hateful rhetoric on both sides, they blame both Republicans and Democrats for the dysfunction in Washington. However, there are not two sides to the issue of hate speech in contemporary American politics just as there are not two sides to the scientific consensus on global warming. While Democrats are far from blameless, to suggest that there is some kind of equivalency between the two parties is like the President’s suggestion that there is some form of moral equivalency between Neo-Nazis and those that oppose fascism. To illustrate this point consider the fact that the vast majority of terror attacks are committed by white people associated with the radical right. Only a tiny fraction of this violence comes from the extreme left. While Trump certainly bears the lion’s share of the responsibility Republicans have been flirting with racism, sexism, and xenophobia for a long time. The cornerstone of Republican efforts to seize power has been othering* their political opposition. Trump’s racism would not have resonated had the GOP not been stoking the fires of hatred and division for so long.
It all started in 1978 when the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and the presidency. One man hatched a plot to end their rule by ending bipartisanship. He surrounded himself with an unscrupulous few who conspired to gain power by fostering division. The movement steadily grew and over the years it has manifested in different ways. In recent years the purveyors of this mass manipulation began planting hateful narratives in the minds of the disenfranchised and those who lament the loss of their privilege. Forty years later the president of the United States is using this hate-filled narrative to sew divisions that gird his hold on power
While Trump may wear the crown of the hater-in-chief, it is the Republicans who are responsible for creating the political climate that facilitated his rise to power. Trump is the culmination of a virulent strain of Republicanism. For years the GOP has done one thing to captivate public interest while working on a far more sinister agenda that has come to fruition with massive tax cuts to corporations and wealthy Americans along with a policy of radical deregulation. The third tier is doing away with “entitlements” like social security and medicare. Obstructionism and the virulent othering we see in Washington is the creation of the GOP. Republicans crafted narratives in a cynical bid to seize power. They then began working with industry to dupe the American people. In this context, Trump is the culmination of Republican malfeasance.
It started with Republican legislator Newt Gingrich and more recently Mitch McConnell was the torchbearer for this hateful brand of politics. According to the November 2018 Atlantic article, Newt Gingrich is “The Man Who Broke Politics.” Forty years ago Newt Gingrich addressed a group of Republicans and lamented the GOP’s failure to get “nasty”. Gingrich played a key role in making the party combative and obstructionist This is the man who sought to kill bipartisanship. He characterized politics as a war to power and dehumanizing Democrats was the key to his strategy. To broaden his reach Gingrich made a series of cassettes that contained, among other things, a recommended list of words to describe Democrats. Here is a list of these words: Sick, liar, traitor, corrupt, pathetic, anti-flag, and radical.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a page from Gingrich’s playbook during the Obama presidency. His obstructionism will go down in history. He infamously bragged that his proudest moments were obstructing the legislative agenda of President Obama. In a cynical bid to deny the Democrats any legislative success, McConnell even refused to support legislation that had previously been sponsored by Republicans. This cynical Republican tactic led to accusations that Washington is broken. This is exactly the outcome that Gingrich was seeking. Disagreement was always the intent of the founding fathers, however, they could not have anticipated the extent to which partisanship would take precedence over the national interest. They could not have anticipated the utter lack of moral fiber and absence of character we see from Republican legislators, they could not have anticipated the self-serving narcissism of a man like Trump.
*Othering: The process whereby an individual or groups of people attribute negative characteristics to other individuals or groups of people that set them apart as representing that which is opposite to them.