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Why Do Americans Hate Each Other?

Political acrimony is at a fever pitch in America, but why?


The applicable adjective for the current American political moment is acrimony. We just don’t like each other very much. Leftists look at Donald Trump supporters as knuckle-dragging, racist rubes, brainwashed by Fox News into a non-sentient cult of the president. Conservatives see leftists as self-flagellating imbeciles who find offense at the bottom of the cereal box every morning.

Politics! Politics is the winner in our current millue. Never in my lifetime have we been so mired in the working of our government. We have really convinced ourselves that this is life and death stuff when its actually congressional staffers trying to knock out just enough work to justify lunch at Chipotle near Capitol Hill. Which I assume exists.

What do you want? What do you want from your government? Do you want safety? Security? Health care? Something to be proud of? Let me suggest, and I’m just spitballing off the cuff here, that none of this matters as much as you want it to. Americans are not the product of our government; we are the result of its limitations.

During staff meetings at The Federalist, I smoke and pace, my two favorite things. We always start with politics, the blood sport: How to best express the stupitidies and aggravations of those who want to govern us. It’s a good oppurtunity to get nice and angry.

During the conversation, culture also comes up. What are we doing in the culture space? To be completely honest I tune out a little at this point, and check my email or Twitter feed as the ladies discuss recent developments on “The Bachelor.” I mean, I’d rather watch videotape of my own death than five minutes of “The Bachelor,” but people want to read about it.

Why? Why do people want to read about “The Bachelor,” or obscure TV shows, or weird novels and abstract movies? At a time the entire American democratic experiment is teetering on the cliff like an Oldsmobile, or so we are told, what possible purchase could such vain pursuits have? Why would we care?

They care because we are not on the cliff. We are the same firm, good, ground of the American continent that we have always been on. We are the luckiest people who have ever drawn breath by every measurable measure, we drew the top card, hit the scratch-off, call it what you will. Yet we hate each other.

It’s a strange state of affairs, and I am by no means innocent in regard to it. Acrimony. Why? What? What are we so angry about? I think we are frustrated. We have these awful, beautiful, horrible, tremendous ideas about what life can be. If only. Well, maybe it already is.

I don’t want to hate people. I want to have a beer and listen to the Beach Boys, wink and flirt and marvel at being alive. I want to take the opportunity granted to us as Americans to do whatever insane, crazy thing pops into my head. If you hate Trump, hate Trump. But don’t hate me. I’m not your enemy.

As Americans we occupy a space (and I do intend the Occupy pun) that is unique. We can do whatever we want. No citizens of any nation have ever labored under such liberty. In most places, people are told what to do. Not here. It’s on you, Chuck.

I don’t hate anyone. Don’t hate me. We are so lucky in myriad ways that our petty political disputes pale in comparison to our reasons to be grateful. Somebody is going to win the election. One side will rejoice, the other will cry havoc. But America will not change. It will still and always be the place we are lucky enough to live in.