Maybe it’s always there, from birth. A natural defense against being eaten by bears.
Maybe it seeps in over time.
Either way, this election will come down to who hates whom more.
That was clear last week in Cleveland as the Republicans poured contempt on Hispanic immigrants. They scorned Muslim Americans. And, most of all, they reviled that embodiment of all that is wrong in America and the universe, the central source of evil, princess of lies enthroned in the 9th ring of Hell beside her master, Lucifer, the beast of many names aka “Hillary Clinton.”
They hate her as the Judas Goat for what this country is fast becoming: a less white place. They dread what is happening so much they crowned an erratic egomaniac as their savior because, well, he promises to relieve them of the awful pressure that hatred brings.
It must be working. Nate Silver, the stats guru, said on Monday if the election were held now, Trump would win. Silver later dialed back that estimate but, to be frank, I still think Trump would win. Because to hope otherwise feels wishful. Sorry to be the one to tell you.
The Democratic National Convention opened in Philadelphia on Monday, and while their hatred was muted relative to the GOP, it was still there. Most notably with Bernie Sanders diehards hooting down speakers because they can’t let go of their contempt for bogeymen “millionaires and billionaires” and for a system that, like all systems, favors the rich and connected. Just like Trump fans, they hate Hillary Clinton, who they see astride a globe, a moneybag clutched in each hand, silk top hat jammed on her head, her hair sprouting snakes like Medusa.
Can Bernie Bros let their hatred go and vote for her? Doubtful. Hillary has been hated so hard for so long by so many it’s now a kind of second skin. Scaly skin, felt by even those who like her — or want to like her — and plan to vote for her, whether as the anti-Trump or because they believe a former secretary of state, former senator and first lady would make a better president than Vladimir Putin’s eager would-be lapdog.
Hillary Clinton isn’t the only one stained by hate. When Michelle Obama gave her poised, elegant and powerful speech, the bile I’ve read for eight years writhed groaning on the ground before me like a living thing, like Gollum, hissing “Chewbacca” and worse. And her central crime is . . . is . . . right, she tried to fight childhood obesity. Her sin flashed across Twitter even as she spoke: “Michelle left tasteless lunches that our kids threw out,” tweeted an unemployed Chicago radio host whose five kids were adults when Obama first took office.
You have to admire the nimbleness of hatred. Any factoid would do. Healthful lunches! You’d think she was Marie Antoinette.
I’m a bad hater. Always have been. I don’t hate Donald Trump. As a guy with a fairly large ego myself, I recognize a fellow sufferer. One reader asked “What if Trump makes a good president?” It’s certainly possible. Trump is so erratic and devoid of loyalty, nobody really knows what he would do as president. He could go back to being a Democrat. He could name Caitlyn Jenner secretary of health and human services.
Why not hope for the best? Since his election is a coin toss right now, find comfort where we may — it’s that or contemplate four years of Trump’s brown shirts plucking out my beard on the Wackerstrasse.
Who do you hate? It’s a complicated question. Sometimes, heading into work, I’ll glance into my reflection in a window and see one of those hook-nosed caricatures from the 1930s that ever-bolder white supremacists throw up on Twitter. Not every day but sometimes. Then I shake it off and go about my business. I wish there were a way to get rid of this stuff, but we can’t. We just have to live with it. It’s in our bones.
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