Sunday, September 13, 2020

Is Your Hate Pure?

Samuel Moyn was referring, I thought, to Democratic loyalists' obsession with Trump and their evident belief that all criticism of Democratic politicians comes from the Right, and is therefore motivated by love of Donald Trump.  People on the left who vote Democratic but still criticize Democratic candidates must therefore love Trump and want him to win in November.

On reflection, though, I had to admit that I don't hate Trump all that much.  I want him out of office, I want him in prison, and he seems to be a completely loathsome person.  Is there anyone who likes him as a human being, let alone loves him?  He seems to have plenty of toadies, hangers-on, people who cling to him in hopes of scoring some money, prestige, or power: but asking whether they like him is like asking whether remora fish like sharks.  That's what a powerful man is supposed to be like, isn't it?

Perhaps since I'm at a safe distance from Trump, I don't feel a personal hatred or loathing for him.  I'd feel a profound satisfaction if he was convicted for his many crimes and spent the rest of his life in prison.  If he caught COVID-19 and died strangling in mucus, I'd feel a detached sympathy for him, but I would still say "Good riddance," and I wouldn't indulge in the eulogies that most people can't seem to resist about the worst human beings on the planet: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, John McCain, etc.  I figure there's a good chance I'll outlive him, and after the terrible damage he's done to this country and the world, I'm curious to see if the usual suspects try to paint him as a good man despite everything.  How low will they sink? ... But the point is, I don't hate him the way so many of liberals do, he's not an itch I have to scratch 24/7 until I bleed.  As my mother always said, if you pick at it, it won't get well.

I used to feel the same way about Barack Obama, as evil as he is.  I admit, when I learned he'd been lying about the Affordable Care Act, claiming falsely that "if you like the policy you have, you can keep it," I felt great anger and disgust; but that was about me, because I'd been defending the ACA based on that claim.  In the end I was even angrier at liberal ACA apologists who defended Obama's lies.  But I didn't hate him; to me that would be as absurd as loving him, thinking he's my father and and that he loves and cares for me. 

Until lately, that is.  His interventions and comments on the political scene this past year have been progressively more obnoxious, and last week he gave us this:

Quite a few people quoted Obama's by-now notorious boast:

“You wouldn’t always know it, but it went up every year I was president. That whole, suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas that was me, people.”

This is funny, really: I thought that Obama couldn't do anything, he was totally helpless because the wicked Republicans obstructed him at every turn?  So apparently he could do some things: subsidize fossil fuel companies, open the Arctic to drilling, waffle on the Dakota Access PipeLine, okay other oil pipelines.  Ironically, though, according to the AP article which quotes Obama's boast, many don't agree that he can take the credit for America's increased oil production.

People threw Obama's terrible environmental record back in his face.  One of the pleasant things about Twitter is that you often can get up in a politician's face, or at least his account, and tell him or her off.  You'll almost never get a reply, but it's better than shaking your fist and yelling at the TV. 

I've said before that Obama unknowingly did serious damage to the claim that voting can bring about change.  That ultimately helped to give us Donald Trump, as large numbers of people lost faith in the promises candidates make.  It didn't help that Obama was openly contemptuous of the voters, especially poor black voters, once he was in office, and just as contemptuous of activists who organized to pressure him outside the electoral process.  His wife, friend to war criminals, seconded that contempt this year. 

So now Obama claims that "Protecting our planet is on the ballot."  Is it?  Biden's website (recently and miraculously updated after the actress and activist Susan Sarandon pointed out it had been neglected) promises lofty goals, even alludes glancingly to the Green New Deal.  Will he deliver, assuming he wins the election?  Who knows?  Given his past, I sure don't.  One would have thought protecting the planet was on the ballot in 2008 and 2012, but it didn't quite work out that way.  Like it or not, you're not voting for issues, you're voting for a candidate, and then you're expected to shut up and get out of the way -- until your candidate needs more money.

Now, though, when I see that Obama has tweeted something, I feel a twinge of hatred.  Hatred isn't something I give lightly.  Like a vote, it has to be earned.  And I'm finally recognizing that Obama has earned it.  Which, I admit, with a dollar, will get him on the bus.  But it's a milestone for me.