Anger

Author: Gary Hart

Does American politics demand anger?  The answer is clearly no.  Then why are we so angry with each other?

I know the answer is no because I served in the United States Senate where, at least during the 1970s, there was little anger, at least by today’s standards, and a general atmosphere of cooperation and conciliation between the two major parties and the complex coalitions they each represented.

Then things changed.  Something called “movement conservatism” arose and had a my way or the highway attitude.  It contained a good deal of anger and considerable resistance to negotiation or cooperation.  Domestic and foreign policy issues became black and white virtually overnight.

At the same time, the news business began to migrate away from the centrist non-partisan networks toward partisan media providing support for and confirming the biases of a polarizing electorate.  This new media confirmed our hardening biases.  They told us what we wanted to hear and often were very selective about facts.

Values changed.  Greed became good.  Cut taxes for the wealthy.  Blue collar workers would just have to work harder to claim middle class status.  An economic revolution replaced steel mills with computers and the economic base moved from Detroit to Silicon Valley.

Never mind loss of jobs, income, and homes.  Wall Street financed technology and more computers.  The ladder of opportunity was available primarily to technocrats.  Family farms were consolidated into corporate farms.  Small towns shriveled and their residents with them.

Good news did not last long.  Within months after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cold War was replaced by the War on Terror and endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Both cost about the same amount of money, except terrorists were not intimidated by giant aircraft carriers, B-2 bombers, and expensive technology.

Then, on top of the economic and military revolutions came globalization, mass South-North migrations, climate change, and pandemics.  A deadly virus could get on a commercial airplane in China and be in Seattle in 14 hours.

Revolutions were layered on top of each other.  Predictably, the conservative mind came to pull up the draw bridges figuratively and build walls literally.  Tax cuts did not solve the economic revolutions.  Border walls did not keep out the viruses. Destruction of environmental protections did not reduce the temperature of the climate.

So, perhaps the accumulation of frustrations at multiple revolutions inevitable would produce anger.  But why anger at each other?  Why tear the country apart over “massive voter fraud” for which there was no proof?  Something deeper is at work here.

Today’s conservative anger seeks domination.  It seeks to place ideological jurists on every federal courtroom bench.  There is no room even for moderation, not to mention liberal principles.  All regulations for health, safety, and the environment must be dismissed.  All government appointees, even to third and fourth level positions, must be totally loyal to the president…not the Constitution.

There is no room for cooperation or negotiation.  This is a prescription for autocracy little known in American history.  Less than a handful of elected conservatives believe there was anything near to the fraudulent election conduct needed to provide a Trump victory.  Yet, with very few exceptions, the rest remain silent during the dictatorial rages too immature to accept defeat or the unanimous verdicts of federal courts across the land.

Conservatives not only challenge liberal beliefs, they are made angry by them.  They must be crushed and buried.  Conservative dogma must dominate at every point regardless of whether it makes any sense.  The question of why remains unanswered.

Anger on both sides?  Possibly, but imagine how the incumbent president would have behaved if, as in 2000, he had lost the presidency because of a few hundred disputed votes in Florida and the decision of one Supreme Court justice.

 

11 Responses to “Anger”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    A couple of thoughts …

    I wonder what a President Biden could get from the next Congress if, at the beginning of his administration, he advocated for the return of the two thirds vote requirement for Supreme Court justices. That, in and of itself, might instigate cooperation over obstruction. And, just imagine all that might be gained in return! I’m just sayin’ …

    As for the anger, I don’t recall ever seeing Joe Biden all that angry. At least, not without flashing that famous Biden smile. I think we are going to see a dramatic dialing down of the anger very soon. Why? Because the new president isn’t in this for himself. He will actually be getting out of bed every morning ready, willing and able to fight and work for the American people, ALL of the American people.

    It is going to be an absolute joy to witness.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    And, it’s going to be very hard for Republicans and Retrumplicans to be angry with a president like that! At least, it’ll be fun watching they try. 🙂

  3. Michael Says:

    After a couple of decades of the conservative media complex finding big ratings in white grievance politics it should come as no surprise that the Republican Party moved its base there too. Anger works. It drives people to the polls. But it also has to be continually fed or the target audience gets bored and tunes out. Their rage has now reached the point where the traditional guardrails of our democracy (such as it was) no longer mean anything to them. Democracy is no longer a brand Republicans need to associate themselves with. Anger has to be translated into action, and that action has to cement their dominant position in society by destroying the ‘others’ ability to change it. And that requires extremism, not compromise. Not only is there no guarantee that they won win in the end, but the chances are better than even that they will.

  4. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    Dear Elizabeth,

    Please take off your 1970’s rose-colored glasses. As the Senator stated, the repubican response to your glowing view of a Congress full of compromise will be “It’s our way or the highway. from the repubicans” Biden’s “smile” ain’t gonna cut it. If, and I say a BIG IF, the Democrats can squeak out a double victory in Georgia on 5 January, 2021 and win both Senate seats, thus delivering a defeat to McConnell and the repubican sycophants of the current occupant of the white house, they will have a slim majority Congress that would not be able to get 60 Senate votes for a SCOTUS confirmation. They will have to get all that they can get done in the next two years, because just like President Obama, the by-year elections will render their control of Congress back to the repubicans, and thus endth the “Happy days are here again” administration of President Joe Biden. Sorry to burst your nice bubble, but it ain’t gonna happen. The Democrats have 2, not 4, years in which to accomplish everything that they can before they loose control of Congress, totally.

  5. Gary Hart Says:

    We cannot leave behind a dreadful year, characterized by pain and death, on the subject of anger. So, to our hardy band of faithful followers and especially commentators, it is my hope for one and all that 2021 becomes a blessed year for our nation and all peoples of good will. Here is wishing you each and everyone a Happy New Year. Gary

  6. Jack DuVall Says:

    Intemperate ideological confrontations, between and within modern political parties, were promoted on nationwide television in the 1960s through the 1990s and beyond –when Republican politicians such as Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump ended up on national presidential tickets, some of whom elevated winning above improving our democracy. American politics is in need of reform and regeneration.

  7. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Oh, Stephen, let’s parse that out. Because, it’ll be fun, for me, at least. Heh.

    1970s rose-coloured glasses, Stephen!? 🙂 Though, it’s true that I have, I gleefully admit, been caught in a ’70s (and 80’s!) Canadian classic rock groove for the last many months and, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll stay caught for a while yet. “But, you don’t really care for music, do you?”. Sorry, couldn’t resist using that line.

    My glowing view of a Congress full of compromise? Okay, now THAT hurt. Perhaps you’re not a big fan of quid pro quo, either? 🙂

    Besides, if I can’t be the one playing the cockeyed optimist around here, then who among us will!? 🙂

    Happy New Year, Stephen, anyways!

  8. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Well, Senator Hart, it is the New Year and the last post of 2020 is still entitled, ‘Anger’ … I’m just sayin’

    A sudden urge is coming over me and I don’t think I’ll be able to stop it – no I’m sure I won’t. So, I’d like to end my comments here on your last post in 2020, called ‘Anger’, with a Christmas tune from Gowan, Lawrence Gowan to all my American friends as he is also the lead singer for Styx, or one of them, since 1999. He wrote this in October and released it in December. For the performance, he collaborated with yet another power trio out of Toronto (think Rush and Triumph, for starters) – a band called Stuck On Planet Earth. The lyrics poke a little fun at some of the crazy ideas of 2020 but, ultimately (stop reading here, Stephen, and go straight to the link!) it is a tune that is hopeful for the future.

    Anyway, enough of the introductions … please enjoy, Can You Make It Feel Like Christmas – Happy New Year, everyone! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tpmRe2U5Oc

  9. Edward Goldstick Says:

    I was about to post something when I saw that Gary had jumped in after my having read messieurs Michael and Stephen P., and I could add no more since [he] deserves the last word as this is ultimately his space. I was tempted to say that we must set aside rosy perspectives and pessimistic realism in the days, weeks, months, and years to come… that the hard work has hardly begun with the hope that we will see the beginnings of a new era, one that our nation has never fully embraced in which the parallel shiboleths of racism and misogyny are increasing unable to reassert themselves under the guise of “compromise”.

    It’s actually now 24 hours since I formed the preceding thoughts and have revised them for insertion here for two reasons:

    1- this cogent speculation offered by Steve Schmidt on the fractious future of the GOP electorate in the near future…

    (https://twitter.com/SteveSchmidtSES/status/1345533164102541315)

    2- the recent telephone discussion between Trump and the GA Secretary of State that seems to be a prima facie basis for removal from office.

    The only question, if I may, is just what the rest of us – whether Democrats and/or progressives or just responsible citizens can do to facilitate these processes in a constructive sense.

    Happy New Year to all…

  10. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Stephen,

    Two things … You may be right about my rose-coloured glasses when it comes to what Biden will be able to accomplish in terms of moving toward a less divided America, number one; and, number two, I had a bit of a light bulb going on moment today while listening to the latest recorded phone call between Trump and Georgia Republicans.

    I think the president understands, quite clearly and rationally, that many Americans are wholly disenchanted with both political parties and they see political strength in a leader who consistently disparages both, straight talks about how things have been done poorly in the past, and who puts America first on the world stage, in his rhetoric if not in reality. This is a very appealing message – because it is deeply rooted in how many people feel about politics and politicians.

    I was also listening to some of the Democrats campaigning in Georgia, including vice president-elect Harris (haven’t heard what Biden has said in this campaign) and it seemed to me that they are only widening the gulf that already exists with their typical campaign speechifying and their constant obsession with Trump’s latest antics.

  11. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    Happy New Year to our much valued host, Senator Hart and friends on this precious site

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