“…and I Don’t Like Anyone Very Much…”

[With apologies to The Kingston Trio]

Because I’m a registered Republican and have given money in the past to a select few Democratic candidates, over the past few months both my snailmail and my email have been deluged with appeals for money and support from both parties and from candidates from both political parties. Each party and every candidate insists that the very existence of the United States is threatened if they don’t get adequate funding in order to defeat the “evil other.”

Now, I’d be the first to admit that there are politicians in each party that the respective party – and the world – could and should do without. Parties being what they are – greedy and without ethics [ethics are only used in judging the other party] – that’s not going to happen.

Depressingly predictable is that the vast majority of these desperate-sounding appeals are close to fact-free, along the lines of “if the other party gains/maintains control of Congress, the sky will fall.” The specifics of how the sky will fall, of course, are also general, but behind the vague generalities, the implications are obvious.

If those free-spending free-sex Democrats get control, they’ll take away our guns, require abortions, indoctrinate our kids with gay and lesbian propaganda, give the vote to every illegal immigrant, require paying people for not working, and bankrupt the entire country, and that’s just for starters.

If those authoritarian Republican Trump clones get control, they’ll take away civil rights from anyone not a white male, ban all abortions for any reason, fortify and militarize the southern border, pass more tax cuts for selfish millionaires, keep the minimum wage as low as possible, accelerate climate change and destroy the environment in a generation, and that’s just for starters.

I’ll also admit that there are politicians close to those extremes, not that most would ever admit it publicly, but I did spend twenty years in the Washington, D.C., political climate and there have always been extremists, just not so many that are so extreme. Even so, I’ve never seen such vitriol on such a wide scale – not in the fifty-plus years that I’ve been in and watched U.S. politics.

And that’s why I don’t like any of them very much – this frantic sky-is-falling, violent-hatred fund-raising just exacerbates the current polarization… and by engaging in it, they may well permanently fracture the underlying consensus required for a democratic political system.

10 thoughts on ““…and I Don’t Like Anyone Very Much…””

  1. KTL says:

    LEM,

    Okay, I’ll bite. Your premise seems correct to me that the sales pitch is ‘the sky is falling’. But one has to admit that now, as much as ever, the use of selling fear works. It works in the US. It works in other countries. Presumably, it has always worked to some extent. It is counterproductive, especially when the reasons used to stoke fear become ever more extreme. What to do?

    As for a partisan specific, I can only say that banning abortions for any reason is becoming much more likely in the US (at least for many of the states), and this notion is not a blip in time. It is traceable back for more than a decade and is seemingly predictable in the years ahead based on laws passed in various states, trigger laws pending, and the actions to date of the US Supreme Court.

    Most of the other issues should have some middle ground upon which to legislate or set policy, but our congress seems incapable and unwilling of moving on anything. That’s all well and good if the world were static. But it is not. Times and situations change that require action in the legislature, if to do nothing else, but maintain our way of life. However, one would hope that those politicians would endeavor to continuously improve the lives of Americans. Apparently, the benefits of such actions to said politicians must not be present or those elected are a few sigma off the center of the behavioral/ethical distribution of most Americans. Sigh.

    The older I get, the closer I become to being a complete misanthrope.

  2. Tim says:

    Your post reminds me of the BreXit debate in the UK with all the predictions of doom accompanied with mudslinging from both sides and a polarised media.

  3. Postagoras says:

    It’s true that the outreach to voters has become shrill, but I think that is a result of the polarization, and not a cause of it.
    For decades now, Republican electoral strategy has definitely been reliant on a core of reliable primary voters who respond to fear.

    1. Damon Seba says:

      And the democrats don’t? Both parties use fear for donations and to drive home the elections. Look at the recent “Supreme Court” leak, and tell me it doesn’t stir up both bases

      1. Right now, no one knows who of what party was the leaker. You’re also right that both parties use fear as a motivator, but so far as I can determine, in the past decade, the only “positive” motivator used by Republicans has been tax cuts, and almost all their “stands” have been negative.

        1. Damon Seba says:

          I agree

  4. Lourain says:

    And moderates are attacked from both sides…

  5. Tom says:

    Despite what anarchist seem to believe people don’t like chaos so, as Alistair MacLean pointed out, for authoritarians “Fear is the Key”. The concept is not new but chaos produces many and varied solutions competing for attention and funds. Most of the solutions have not been thought through and so frightening consequences from inaction are included in the requests and demands. The few reasoned arguments seem to get lost.

    Thus we are again suffering from our poor communication and inadequate analysis of the presented solutions.

    Do we do the usual? Pander to our bias? Or at this time: is there a single specific quality which is needed and can be identified in our willing representatives. Something that we can use to vote for rather than against!

  6. Grey says:

    Well, this is a timely essay given the medieval, revanchist (albeit draft) Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, and laying the groundwork to roll back several hundred years of social progress.

    This is the same group of justices who will be ruling on any election disputes this fall or in two years. Best of luck there, Democrats.

    Does that sound shrill?

    1. KTL says:

      Grey,

      I’d argue that doesn’t sound shrill at all. It sounds like an objective conclusion. The Supreme Court draft opinion signals a scorched earth strategy consistent with that of many state legislatures on abortion (as the first battle). The draft opinion leaves a lot of room open for future attacks on other rights gained, that are so called non-enumerated constitutional rights that everyone (Republican and Democrat) enjoys. Here are two troubling points made just the last two days that exemplify the stakes:

      1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/05/04/abortion-digital-privacy/
      In the above link is an explanation regarding how privacy breaches that exist now are being used, and can be to criminally prosecute, those seeking an abortion (even across state lines to a legal abortion clinic).
      2. Reporter Yamiche Alcindor was asked last night about her discussions with abortion activists and what they will do if abortions are ruled illegal. She reported that a long time activist says that he will now take his group to fight against LGBTQ causes.

      There’s no hiding that this is an asymmetric fight for the ability to shape the present and future for Americans. The stacking of the courts and state legislatures with self-selected and now elected extremists will not be unraveled for a very long time and the likelihood of large shifts in policy happening relatively quickly are quite high, in my opinion.

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