OPINION: Can we see past our own cultural blind spots?
Though hard to measure, the inability of liberals to deal with the reality of President Donald Trump might have even eclipsed the right’s loathing of Obama at this point.
Not even six months into his presidency, the Trump Derangement Syndrome checklist is already sizable.
Does the left consider Trump a fascist dictator? (As the right did with Obama.) Have liberals concocted wild conspiracy theories about Trump? (As the right did with Obama.) Has political discourse devolved into little more than childish name-calling? (As the right did with Obama.) Has Trump been declared the anti-Christ? (Was Obama?).
Yes, to all of the above.
Boehlert wrote in 2016 that President Obama’s “feral critics have excitedly denounced him in real time as an ‘arrogant,’ ‘flippant’ ‘jerk.’ He was ‘fake,’ ‘thin-skinned,’ ‘cocky and snide’; ‘patronizing,’ ‘demagogic,’ ‘unpresidential,’ and really, really ‘arrogant.”
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Of course, all of these things and worse have now been said about Trump.
The left even makes fun of the food Trump eats and harps on his constant golfing (As the right did with Obama.)
Most of these attacks on Trump are not political discussions. It is celebrity bashing masked as political discourse. As noted at length, both sides do it.
Because the target is a politician, we fool ourselves into believing this kind of muckraking is politics, but it’s really no different than finding different ways to hate on Kim Kardashian, Amy Schumer, Kanye West or whatever celebrity happens to be trending at any given moment. The president is just a celebrity who doesn’t go away for four to eight years.
When policy debates get overtaken by a fixation on personalities, we’re really not even talking about politics anymore — it’s tribal warfare. It’s a middle school lunchroom. And to what end?
Because it makes us feel good. We seek first not wisdom or truth, but confirmation bias, whether it comes Samantha Bee or Sean Hannity. There’s a deep-seated need for many of us to cheer good guys and jeer bad ones. We do this in our entertainment. We do it in sports. We do it in our politics. We treat politics more like religious dogma.
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This is not to say there aren’t differences between Trump and other presidents. In style, tone temperament specifically, that is certainly the case. Obama and Bush were not the same man or president.
But this untamable vitriol seems to have peaked already with Trump. There’s a reason a strong majority of Americans right now think our politics have become less civil.
The notion that right or left will one day vanquish the other side and all will be set aright is improbable and inaccurate. There is much both sides get right and wrong.
But to figure out how to agree on the good parts and ditch the bad, we will have to talk to each other. Many people aren’t willing to do that right now and it’s getting worse.
That’s not productive nor is it really true politics, even if we are used to it.
Jack Hunter is the politics editor at Rare.