Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hating the 'left'

If you’re wondering why worshippers of President Donald Trump are really encouraging the rollback of environmental protections, the repeal of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and other things since Trump’s inauguration, Brian Beutler of The New Republic and Paul Krugman of The New York Times have both summed it up nicely.

This clause by Beutler about the ACA should explain it: “Republicans simply stapled together whatever set of measures they needed to pass a bill in the House, because the claim to having dismantled something important to Obama and liberals matters more to them than the underlying state of the U.S. health care system.”

Krugman has written that the opposition to the Paris Accord in particular and climate change in general “is largely driven by sheer spite.  [M]uch of today’s right seems driven above all by animus toward liberals rather than specific issues. If liberals are for it, they’re against it. If liberals hate it, it’s good.”

This is the reason our country is so divided — the contempt those on the right have for those perceived as left-leaning.

It started as far back as 1980, with the negative advertising against Democrats resulting in the first “Republican Revolution” and even some evangelicals referring to those more on the left as dangerous; since-disgraced evangelist Jimmy Swaggart once referred to liberal politics as “akin to Communism.” Later on conservatives did their best to have President Bill Clinton — who really wasn’t all that liberal, truth be told — removed from office, activists during the 1992 presidential campaign filing suit in Federal court to have him removed from the ballot and, failing that, setting him up for a failed impeachment.

Some years ago the evangelical ministry Sojourners that has always focused on social justice set up a blog, “God’s Politics,” after a 2004 book by the same name by founder Jim Wallis. Almost immediately conservatives started denouncing it, some of them making snide comments and others personally attacking folks who dared to disagree with them. Sojo tried everything to lower the temperature, even going to a Facebook-based commenting system so that people simply couldn’t anonymously flame others for disagreeing.

Not even that worked, as I suspected that it wouldn’t. The hate proved to be just too deep.

Recently I read an article online about narcissists, who exhibit the symptoms of “gaslighting,” projection, changing the subject and desiring control, and recognized that such typify many Trump supporters. They simply refuse to be confronted on their behavior, just like the object of their worship (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating, either). I don’t see liberals acting the same way; the few that do are basically on the margins and have little, if any, power.

All this flies in the face of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is at heart about reconciliation — with God through His cross but also with each other. That in America the Christian faith is often considered synonymous with right-wing politics thus should be problematic, and some churches I wouldn’t even attend if it displayed conservative literature.

I would hope that those of us who are followers of Christ develop the humility to learn what any opponent is thinking and how he or she comes to his or her convictions. Perhaps we all could learn something.

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