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Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hatred

I suppose most people take political rhetoric with a grain of salt, which is certainly advisable. But I also notice a lot of people get caught up in the hateful narratives spun by the presidential campaigns and the media.

I understand, I think, the value of stoking the fires of hatred. It gets people worked up and aroused. It gets people’s attention and makes a more lasting impression than bland or even positive messages. This is a proven psychological fact.

I understand how it benefits the powers that be. But how does it benefit us? How does it benefit you?

Anger has value if it motivates to action. But wallowing in hatred is not the best thing for one’s mental health.

I’ll admit I’m seduced by these narratives as well, to some extent. I tune in to watch the presidential debates hoping to see some blood drawn. It appeals to my basest instincts. (And the debates have been rather disappointing on that front so far.) I get caught up in the fight, against my better judgment.

At the end of the day, though, I can laugh it off. My sense of ironic detachment is sufficient to keep me happy if not sane.

And yes, I’m aware of how high the stakes are. I’m aware of the eminent hate-worthiness of (insert candidate’s name here). But are you aware of how you’re being manipulated? The machinery of manufactured hatred has been especially transparent this go-round. Early on, the right targeted Hillary Clinton. The left was a little more uncertain, but a lot of the hatred seemed to be focused on Rudy Giuliani. It was amusing and instructive to see the gears grinding as the machinery had to be reconfigured and aimed at McCain and Obama. And of course, no one knew Sarah Palin from a hole in the ground until a month ago. Scramble, scramble, hate, hate, hate. It’s really kind of funny except for the toll it takes on our collective psyche.

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t pay close attention or form opinions. I’m only cautioning against a certain sort of overwrought anguish to which some of us are prone.

I guess what I’m trying to say is simply this, to any family and friends who will listen: It’s a well-known fact that too much hatred is bad for the soul. So if you find yourself caught up in that mess, please check yourself. Don’t let it get you frustrated, depressed, discouraged and overwhelmed. Don’t take it so serious. Take a step back. Do whatever you need to do to regain your perspective.

OK. I’m done preaching for a while.

Published inNews & MediaPolitix


  1. Agreed. They all suck. Not a single one gives a shit about us beyond what it takes to gain power.

    And I really like your term “manufactured hatred”.

  2. I agree with Lester. B may need a non-hateful hug right about now, but that’s no excuse for being a pussy. I will continue to hate the Bush administration’s policies over the past 8 years. And I will continue to hate selfishness and stupidity and I will work hard to try to change the world.

  3. Michael, maybe I should have mentioned that I have hated every president I can remember. Now who’s the pussy, you Bill Clinton-loving sumbitch? But seriously, if your hatred motivates you to “work hard to try to change the world” then it’s not exactly the sort of hatred I’m addressing. Hate on, my friend. We could use more of that kind of hatred. What I’m against is the hatred that saps energy and demotivates. It seems that many people caught up in the hatefest don’t do much by way of civic involvement, except maybe vote. What’s the point of getting all het up just to pull a lever?

  4. My mom says, “Don’t hate. Just strongly dislike.” What? I really can’t stand Bush, Rove, McCain, Palin and the New Republicans. How’s that?

  5. Kent Kent

    Both promised a new kind of politics, void of this type of campaigning. If you’re running, you can’t ignore the false claims of the other party completely. Kerry chose to ignore the ridiculous swiftboat claims for two weeks, and never recovered. In 2000. McCain suffered from assertions that he had an illegitimate black child, and lost the primary. The question is, “Which candidate seems more even handed, less prone to exaggeration, less angry, and less inclined to make far-flung statements intended to lure the parties more extreme members?” Is either party attempting, however imperfectly, to keep their campaign promise of a new type of campaigning? Who starts statements with “the place where we agree is,” the only reasonable starting point for compromise? People can find their own answers, but I wish everyone would engage the debate, not legislate it out of existence by trying to stand above it.

    It’s easy to sit back a observe, or say you “hate every president.” There’s no courage there, because it there’s no serious investment of intellectual energy.

  6. Kent, well said. I agree that all should engage the debate. Of course, we are a long way from that dream. I hope you don’t suppose that I am trying to “stand above it” all because that’s not the point I’m trying to make. Rather, I’d say that by indulging in paroxysms of hatred, we evade debate entirely. By allowing ourselves to be discouraged by hateful rhetoric, we minimize our effectiveness on all fronts.

    I am not one to sit back and observe; I do engage the debate in what is laughingly referred to as “real life” — but not so much on this blog. I write to another purpose here, and that intersects with presidential politics only rarely.

    Oh yeah: Reagan, two Bushes and a Clinton. Those are the presidents I’ve known. Yes, I’ve hated all four of ’em. If we should ever engage *that* debate, you’ll find I’ve made a considerable investment of intellectual energy in arriving at that conclusion.

  7. Kent Kent

    Is another way to say this “Hate is an means to avoid thinking”?

    But I fail to see the logical connect to inaction. You are making that claim in a prior response by saying that “people who get caught in the hatefest don’t do much by way of civic involvement.” You also acknowledge that “hate can motivate you to work hard and change the world.” I’m not convinced inaction is tied to hate. Inaction may be one of the few evils in the world that aren’t tied to hate. I’ve heard there are some pretty hateful people actively involved in destruction, for instance.

    I’m not sure hate “minimizes our effectiveness” either. Although it can certainly misdirect it towards harmful causes. It does so with miraculous effectiveness.

  8. Kent, despite the null, I thank you for your observations. You made me realize something. I think I have conflated two separate scenarios here. The hateful rhetoric flying around can get a person riled up for a while, but ultimately it turns many people off and makes them numb. Those two scenarios could play out in the same person over time, of course. Both scenarios can be troubling but they are different problems.

  9. mikesmiley mikesmiley

    It’s not the election that’s got me “frustrated, depressed, discouraged and overwhelmed.” It’s the bailout.

  10. Kent Kent

    Unfortunately, I suspect the situation is much worse than we imagine. The Times today has an article indicating that President Bush is considering having the government take an ownership stake in banks to try to restore confidence in the banking system. Paul Krugman, the Princeton Economist who won the John Bates Clark medal, perhaps the best indicator of a future Noble Prize, has backed this plan for some time, and the British government is moving in this direction.

    This administration would have equated such actions with socialism just a few months ago. Government owning banks? This administration has had one clear mantra – “privatize!”

    What are Bernanke and Paulson telling the President that he would even consider these actions?

    I’m not just discouraged and overwhelmed. I’m terrified!

  11. JS JS

    To borrow the phrase of a truly great American who cut through all of the hatred and broke down racial barriers:

    “Can’t we all just get along?”

    -Rodney King

    ps. In case you were wondering what ever happened to this outstanding social activist, here’s a summary:

    King was awarded 3.8 million in damages in a civil suit and in 1997 started a record label “called ‘Straight Alta-Pazz”. In 1998 that label released an album “Stranded”.

    In 1999 he was convicted of spouse abuse, sentenced to 90 days in jail and 4 years probation.

    In 2001 he was ordered to undergo a year of drug treatment after pleading guilty to 3 counts of being under the influence of PCP and indecent exposure.

    In April 2003 he was suspected to be under the influence when he crashed an SUV into a house, breaking his pelvis.

    In October 2003 Rodney was charged with punching his girlfriend.

    The bottom line is that even the “lovers” are “fighters.”

  12. Garvey Garvey

    I hate the idea that a reversion of the 2003 tax cuts would mean $130/month less for a family with a taxable income of 50K. That’s my electric bill right there.

  13. Garvey Garvey

    I should add: I don’t give a flying leap about our “standing in the world” or any of the other things the pols think are important. “All politics are local.” Damn skippy! And it doesn’t get more local than my ledger sheet. I cannot afford a tax increase of any kind.

  14. peptide peptide

    whose tax reversion are you talking about, garvey? the proposals of both candidates call for further cuts for those making 37.5k to 66.3k – Obama’s cuts for that tax bracket happen to be a bit less (2.4% compared to McCain’s .7% – see a chart here)

  15. peptide peptide

    meant to say, his tax cuts are larger for that tax bracket – got confused with the negative numbers for a sec

  16. peptide peptide

    for some reason my followup won’t appear – one more try- i meant to say obama’s cuts for that bracket, as for most middle income brackets are LARGER, not less

  17. Thanks so much for writing that. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks everyone is foaming at the mouth over this election. I’m so sick of flipping through hateful blog posts. And if I hear another immature or mean-spirited Palin or Obama joke I’m going to vomit.

    For the record, the hate drove me away. I’m voting third party – because I care so little which one of those machine politicians wins.

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