The Politics of Hate and the Soul of Democracy
The politics of hate will not win. So say those who have a strong abiding faith in human decency but a frail understanding of history. As noted by Eric Hoffer, the reflective student of mass movements, hate is the great unifier of political causes, the motivator of true believers. Sometimes it does win.
For now, hate is winning, and it is out of control. Kelley Paul, wife of Sen. Rand Paul, writes a heartfelt plea to Sen. Cory Booker to dial down the rhetoric of hate and incitement. The Pauls live in a state of fear. The senator was severely beaten by a deranged neighbor and still suffers the pain and physical damage of the beating. Mrs. Paul sleeps with a loaded gun by her bed. The local sheriff makes extra patrols around their home.
Rather than apologize for Sen. Booker’s incendiary comments, his staff seized on the tried-and-true “out of context” excuse, the same grasp of rhetorical straws Madonna used when she explained away her desire to blow up the White House.
Maxine Waters is unapologetic about incitement, having doubled down on the get-in-their-face tactic visited upon Sarah Sanders, now the only press secretary ever to need Secret Service protection, and more recently upon Sen. Ted Cruz, who can’t go out to dinner without being confronted by an angry in-your-face group of hooligans.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh were turned into political theater, encouraged by the antics of the Democratic members of the committee. There were neither pleas nor admonitions to their partisans in the audience to respect the need for civility in our democracy.
Never before in the history of any polity has one side maintained a monopoly on intimidation, harassment, and violence. The fragility of democracy is that mass movements feed on their success and move to the extremes. Today, it is harassment and intimidation. Tomorrow it will be violence. And violence will beget violence.
It was not just Hitler’s Brownshirts that loaded up sedans with tommy guns and shot up the watering holes of the Communists in the fading days of the hapless Weimar Republic. The Communists also knew how to cover the streets in the blood of their opponents.
The campus has become the Bonneville proving grounds of leftist violence. At present, they have a monopoly. They control who can speak and who can listen, and they receive little to no disciplinary action by perverted administrators who share their politics and salivate over their behavior, yearning to be out in the streets ganging up on unarmed conservatives.
Having a just cause gives moral license. That’s what is taught on campus. Redeem your guilt of white privilege by going into the street and being baptized in hooliganism, feeling the “agro” of a soccer rioter while smashing your way to social justice.
The spring panty raid of the 1950s has been replaced by the political violence of the twenty-first century. And the ritual, honed on the campus, has come to the nation’s capital where members of the Senate provide the same role models as do campus administrators.
For many, the meaning is to be found in the act, no matter how abhorrent or how out of place it is in a society that offers myriad forms for a variety of peaceful and civil actions.
And how will this violence play out? For the vulgar Marxists and their leftist companions who are embracing the revolution in the streets, they should be reminded that students of Marx have long noted that “Every revolution has its Thermidor.”
But the Thermidorian reaction, the gravedigger of revolutions, will not come from within the revolution. It will come on a November day when the soul of decent America will awake to the realization that this is not America as a democratic civilization.
For the soul of America is born of neither hatred nor the politics of confrontation. It is born of the essence of democracy, as that dead white European male Alexis de Tocqueville so eloquently noted. It is born of compromise and conciliation in the corridors of government.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.