by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The better life becomes for the vast majority of Americans — and it is better by nearly every quantifiable measure — the angrier, more disgruntled, and more radicalized people seem to get. We see it in the embrace of delusional election conspiracy theories, in both 2016 and 2020, and in the general apocalyptic tone of partisan rhetoric and media coverage, which permeates all sides. Maybe the “endless series of hobgoblins” convinces us we’re perpetually on the precipice of some new disaster — whether it’s the climate-change apocalypse or the destruction of the middle class or the rise of white supremacy, or any other such myths — or maybe a loss of faith has left us susceptible to stupid ideas as we rummage for meaningful ones in the junkyard of politics. Whatever the case, all this anger is, for me, the biggest mystery of the modern age.
It must be simply exhausting to internalize every political event, every election loss, as an existential threat to democracy. …
… Some days I think we’ve lost our collective minds. The fact is, it’s not only the slack-jawed QAnon yokels on Parler or the violent communist Antifa radicals who spread conspiracies and hysteria; it’s professors from leading institutions of learning, cultural and media figures, senators and presidents. Some of them need to be held to higher standards than others, but there are far too many people, incentivized by the promise of more social-media followers and clicks, generating anger.
I don’t have any solutions to offer, other than to say: When Democrats lost in 2016 and started marching around in pussy hats, lionizing detestable people, and spreading political hysteria, conservatives used to lecture them by saying, “All you had to be was not crazy.” This should be an American credo.