Love makes the world go ‘round. Not! Get with the program, my friends. In 2012, hate is like venom circulating through society. Hate allows only for the perpetuation of more hate. They have all kinds of catchy expressions to capture our obsession with hate: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” “You’re such a hater.” “Don’t drink the drink the haterade!” As a culture, we have devolved. We embrace and revolve around hate. Unfortunately, the place where America’s fascination with hate finds its fullest expression is where the heartbeat of hope should be strongest: politics.
As a child, some of my earliest heroes weren’t singers or movie stars. Aside from my parents, my idols were the eloquent, intelligent and seemingly wise men and women who were respected enough to hold elected office. I can remember keynote speeches at Democratic National Conventions as far back as when I was ten years old. These amazing men and women, who include Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, and Mario Cuomo, created my insatiable appetite for politics and inspired me to go to law school. For all of my policy critiques of President Barack Obama, I will always remember the inclusive, hopeful and unifying message that then, State Senator Barack Obama gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. It was the beginning of the latest Hope and Change era in politics.
Despite my idealized memories, hate politics are as old as politics itself. The Hope and Change era ushered in by Barack Obama in 2008 didn’t have a long shelf life. The hate struck back with devastating dark force. Hate has been dominating the political discourse since well before the Mid-term Elections of 2010. The rise of the TEA Party was the end of the force of Hope and Change. The TEA Party took their hate and anger, converted it into claims of job creation and deficit reduction sufficient to swindle the electorate and ride into the House of Representatives.
Congress isn’t the only place that the politics of hate is on display. If you watched any of the GOP Presidential Debates, you witnessed an astounding display of grandstanding, bullying, truthiness, absolute lies, brain freeze and yes, hate. It was unbelievable to see how the dwindling field of candidates behaved. Nothing was been off-limits, except the truth and real discussions about policy issues that actually matter to Americans. A serious discussion about the moon as the 51st state is enough to provoke hatred, but isn’t going to create jobs, improve education, eliminate poverty, feed the hungry or make America secure in an instable world. Even now that it’s just Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul, the slow trickle of tepid endorsements indicates a undercurrent of something dour and unpleasant in the GOP. Or maybe the GOP just isn’t that into Mitt Romney?
Don’t believe that the right and the Republicans cornered the market on hate and anger anymore. By the fall of 2011, progressives developed some hate and vitriol of their own, and the Occupy Movement was born. Nuances of the Occupy Movement are far too complicated to dissect in a few sentences. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that the Occupy Movement is an expression of the frustration, for most, and hatred, for some, at inequitable aspects of the economic and political systems that reduce opportunity and mobility for a majority of Americans.
Hate is easily understood and hard to contain. But hate, like any good venom, is lethal and kills everything in its path. Let’s spread truth and fairness instead. Innovation, growth and inspiration aren’t possible where hate has been spread. Let’s not be paralyzed by hate. The only hope for us all is if we paralyze hate instead.