Saturday, September 24, 2011

Republicans: The Anatomy of Hate

My wife remarked I would have lasted about thirty seconds as a psychiatrist. Coming from her, this was a compliment. During her nursing training she had to do a rotation on psychiatry, in a very famous psychiatric hospital, Payne Whitney, in New York City and she said it was all she could do to stop herself from just slapping some of her depressed patients. "Man up," she wanted to say. "Just stop whining and pull yourself together."

So ours is not a household given to a lot of psychobabble.

On the other hand, when I look at the Republicans who are most prominent, from Rush Limbaugh, to Rick Perry, I cannot help but notice a few shared characteristics which one might describe as a syndrome of the hater.

Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, all very poor students. All, presumably, told at some tender age they were not the sharpest blades in the drawer, and you can just see them trying to prove all those doubters wrong. You see them struggling to change that past of humiliation.

And Rush, one has to admit, is a man with some pretty obvious reasons for self loathing. He is, after all, grotesque, physically. This is not a kind or socially correct thing to point out, but it's sort of the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to Rush, and for that matter Glenn. Pretty obvious insecurity and inferiority complexes just lighting up like neon.

Rick Perry, ditto. Not because he is physically grotesque. Not because he knows he is not going to walk out of the bar with a woman and he's over compensating for physical unattractiveness, but he was, as he freely admits, a dimwit in school. He tries to get past this by joking about it, as if to say, having been a dunce, well that doesn't mean your not smart, because, obviously, I've written this book which displays just how smart I am. I can see Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and ought to be executed, Texas style.

Rush Limbaugh hates the undeserving poor, the welfare queens who want to rape the system and free load off the hard working American Taxpayer. Mitch McConnell shares that hate and so does Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann. All the Republicans do. They hate the poor who are poor because they are undeserving and trying to live like parasites on the American taxpayer.

They are not simply derisive, they actively hate these fellow citizens. They hate criminals who commit heinous crimes and they want to kill them. Rick Perry has never lost sleep over killing prisoners on death row. And he is dead certain (excuse the pun) he has never executed an innocent man, that's how sure he is of the Texas courts.

In his certainty, Rick Perry shares this characteristic with all the big time Republicans, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Glenn, Rush, Sean, Michele. In fact, it is a source of some fascination and wonder to Democrats about just how sure these Republicans are of everything.

But there is nothing new in this.

Just after World War II, Jean Paul Sartre looked at the anti Semite. "Anti Semitism is a way of feeling good, proud even," Sartre observed. "It is not unusual for people to elect to live a life of passion rather than reason." The hater does this out of a "Longing for impenetrability. The rational man groans as he gropes for the truth; he knows that reasoning is no more than tentative, that other considerations may intervene to cast doubt on it...The Anti Semite has chosen hate because hate is a faith."

Democrats over the past three years, have agonized over the inability of Democrats, of the President in particular, to come up with a coherent, cogent and simple response, a catchy little catechism like the Republicans have: "Regulations, tax and spend, driving up the deficits for our grandchildren to pay. Government is not the solution; it is the problem."

Why don't we have a catchy little riff like that?

It's Bertrand Russel's plaintiff question: Why is it the stupid are cocksure, and the intelligent full of doubts?

Well, I guess the answer is, because the Right is always sure it's right. And the Left, well, they are pondering.

But Democrats have got to get beyond all this.

We may not have all the answers, but we do know this: The Republicans, for all their surety are wrong. They stamp their feet and throw tantrums, but what they are really saying is, "We cannot and will not do anything! No!" They are saying government cannot help. No. We will not allow it!

And Democrats, from the time of Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression know that government will fail, but it will try again, and it has to try and keep trying until something works. And eventually, something will work. And we call the successes Social Security and Medicare and The Interstate Highway System and the Internet and the Atom bomb (heaven help us) and a dead guy called Osama Bin Laden.

If you keep trying, eventually, something works.

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