Consciously, carefully and consistently, political elements over the past 40-plus years have sought to appeal to the basest of human desires and emotions — greed and fear — with great success. Sadly, that success is measured in polarization and distrust, and a now structural incapacity to get things done.
Randian egoism and the myth of rugged individualism teach that it is good to be self-absorbed. Naturally, these ideas have “trickled down” to regular people and, combined with old prejudices and fears, debased educational systems and new economic realities.
The result has been the ascendancy of Donald Trump.
The thinking is that it’s good to want for yourself and a weakness to care for others — especially those different than you. “Political correctness” is a slur. And politicians know that it is easier to hurl accusations about political rivals and ‘others’ than to actually do the business of their constituents.
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The former garners attention and gins up the base, and also gives institutional reinforcement to distrust and fear. The latter requires compromise and civil discourse, anathema in today’s politics.
One can almost hear it now from opposition leaders after the November election, “Our No. 1 priority is making sure President Clinton is a one-term president,” the business of the people be damned.
Timothy W. Harrington, Miami