Politics in America has always been dirty business. More recently a serious division has grown between those vying for public office. This gap, which is best characterized by the perspectives of liberals and conservatives, has made it almost impossible for our federal government to operate efficiently.
The bad blood has spread to average Americans. It is impossible to have a substantive conversation about race, the economy, immigration, foreign policy, abortion, gun control, government transparency, religion, military strength and so many other topics without an ensuing screaming match.
The past few presidential elections have exacerbated this problem. Some were very close and the losers were infuriated by the outcomes. The presidents struggled to govern when the split between the majority and minority was just a few seats in Congress.
The opposition, too often, has been unable to accept the results of elections and support the new president. This attitude was stoked by campaigns that went far beyond policy differences. The contenders attacked each other personally. Now digging up dirt on one’s opponent is an important element of every election. The issues uncovered continue to plague the victor after the election.
The press and TV media are complicit in this unseemly process that breeds negativity and resentment. For the most part, these groups are hungry to find dirty laundry and tell the world without regard to political affiliation. This is what sells newspapers and makes viewers tune in each night. However journalists have begun to take sides in recent times, and they are mostly supporters of liberal candidates and causes. Newspapers have become biased as editors allow reporters’ personal opinions to infiltrate reporting.
Vicious attacks by the opposition are not new, although Donald Trump has been lambasted more than any other president in history. Real hatred in politics became a major issue during the Clinton administration. Conservatives were taken aback by Bill’s salacious life style before, during and after his presidency. Opponents of Clinton could not get over the fact that a blatant philanderer, a man, who lied under oath, was in the White House.
This animosity was transferred to his wife whose attitude and sense of entitlement made conservatives go bonkers. If you are not a Hillary fan, you despise her. There is no middle ground.
George W. Bush was subjected to the wrath of liberals who claimed that he stole the election from Al Gore. The latter won the popular vote, but Bush won the more important electoral vote. Bush was derided from day one even as he capably dealt with 9/11. Unfortunately his opponents disapproved of the way he responded to terrorism culminating with invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nevertheless Bush was treated unfairly and in a cruel personal way. His competency and down home style was mocked. Dan Rather of CBs, in his zeal to destroy the Bush presidency, reported erroneously about Bush’s military service and was sanctioned by his employer.
Barack Obama is an uber populist. He attacked the most successful among us in his quest to become president. Class warfare was his main weapon, and it backfired on him.
From the start Obama wanted to make a huge splash legislatively. He ramrodded Obamacare through Congress creating enormous resentment among the opposition and many Americans. This trillion dollar plus entitlement was not supported by one Republican in Congress.
Ted Kennedy’s death caused the Democrats to lose their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Republican Scott Brown campaigned against Obamacare and won the seat. Obama over estimated his influence. Thereafter the president was a lame duck only able to govern with presidential mandates.
The venom directed at Obama was a function of his own desire to bring down affluent Americans and his total disregard for the opposition. He got what he deserved, a backlash that made his presidency moot. Yet, the bad feelings among conservatives were disappointing in retrospect.
This set the stage for the unmitigated opposition to Donald Trump even before he took office. Liberals were attributing problems in the country to the new president-elect before he stepped into the White House. Every scowl and misstep by Trump was met with snide comments. After one year he is to blame for all problems in the country. The hatred, some of which is deserved, is tearing the country apart. Politics has become a gottcha contest where both parties are trying to prove that the other party sucks.
Americans should be concerned about the future of their government. The situation did not begin with Trump, but hopefully it will end with him.