I have written about liberal anger before, but this seems like a good time to reexamine the subject. It has been more than half a year since Donald Trump was elected president, but his detractors remain in high dudgeon. They can’t seem to get their hatred of him out of their craw.
Ever since Congressman Steve Scalise was shot, we have had multiple analyses of the foul state of political affairs. Almost everyone agrees that the level of civility is at an all-time low. The best that the experts have to offer, however, are pious platitudes about our need to come together.
Nevertheless, once the raw memories of the assassination attempt and of Kathy Griffin’s severed head stunt subside, we will probably be back at the same old stand. The press will be as mean spirited and the non-stop finger pointing will resume.
But why is this so? Why do polls show that a majority of Democrats believe they could never have respectful relationships with conservatives because those on the right are evil? How did they come to this conclusion?
The answer is that Liberalism is dying. As a political philosophy, it is in its death throes. Having demonstrated that it is ideologically bankrupt, those who dedicated their lives to it are in a state of crisis. They are not sure what to do, so they lash out.
First it is necessary to understand how anger works. We become angry when we are frustrated. When we want something badly but do not get it, we become furious. What is more, the more we want it and the more categorically we are thwarted, the angrier we become.
Indeed, if we become angry enough, the emotion turns into rage. At this point, it becomes primitive. Instead of thinking through what we want or the best way to get it, we let fly. We act like small children who impotently strike at those who get in their way.
Under the best of circumstances, anger helps us get what we desire. It motivates those blocking our path either to give us what we ask or to step out of the way. When we are enraged, however, we become ineffective. We do not intimidate others into compliance, but stimulate them to fight back.
This is particularly so when anger is displaced. If it is directed at those who are not the source of our frustration, they may have little choice but to resist. Although liberals believe conservatives are the cause of their distress, the real problem is that their objectives are unreachable. Their programs failed because they were destined to fail.
Barak Obama did not bring us hope and change. He did not reform health care in a way that improved the national wellbeing. Nor did the economy revive under his tutelage. Nor did crime go down. Nor did educational achievement go up. Nor did peace break out on the international front.
Liberals know this. They may not admit it out loud. They may not acknowledge it under their breath. But in their heart of hearts they know. They realize that people neither are nor ever will be completely equal. They understand that universal love is a pipe dream.
Why then can’t the fess up? It is because they have no alternative. If they could detect another path toward their goals, they might change direction. But they can’t. And so what do they do? They double down. They demand more of what has not worked.
We saw this in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She was fresh out of ideas. All she could mange was to recycle Obama’s worn out policies. We now see it in the Democrat’s congressional response to Trump. Their leaders do not offer coherent substitutes. By their own admission, they are merely organizing a resistance.
The trouble is that this will not help achieve their underlying goals and consequently they will remain frustrated. But if they remain frustrated, they will also remain angry. Furthermore, if their anger continues to be primitive and violent, it will not promote their ends; hence they are apt to become cruder and more aggressive.
The answer? We must give Liberalism a decent burial. This zombie must not be allowed to disturb the peace of the living.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Kennesaw State University