It’s hard to pinpoint when this deep, divisive animosity first washed over the country. The election of Donald Trump seems like the starting point to many. However, I can personally trace the beginnings of this back to my days in high school in the early 2000’s. That is when I first encountered the hateful left
This is admittedly anecdotal.
I grew up in New York in the 1980’s and 1990’s. My parents were Republicans and loved Ronald Reagan. Though I knew my parents were Republicans, neither of them were particularly outspoken. I knew they voted red and liked Reagan. That was about as much of a political “indoctrination” as I had growing up.
We never spoke about politics, policies, or programs at the dinner table. Politics just wasn’t a part of our daily life. I never heard my parents talk about it with their friends, and my friends and I certainly didn’t know or care enough when I was young. Flash-forward to high school, the year 2000, and the 2000 Presidential Election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. This is when I first encountered the hateful left.
The 2000 Election And The Hateful Left
I was not old enough to vote in the 2000 election but my high school was doing a mock election of sorts as part of a learning exercise in politics, elections, etc. Remember, I had no clue about politics. I had no idea who Al Gore or George W. Bush was. I didn’t know or care about their politics, views, or policies.
A classmate and I were talking about the upcoming mock election and he asked me who I was voting for. I said I was voting for Bush. Why? I dunno. He was the Republican candidate and my parents were Republicans. I didn’t care, so whatever. I should pull the lever for Bush. It’s a mock election at a high school in New York and I’m 17 years old. As a result, it’s not like it means anything, right?
The look on my classmate’s face, and I still remember it, is usually reserved for people who admit to torturing small animals.
“Ew, you’re a Republican?” He asked. “How could you be that?”
To repeat myself yet again, remember that I had no idea what a Republican was. To be 100% fair, I’m sure my classmate really didn’t either. We were 17 after all. However, he had been taught in some way, shape, or form; perhaps by his parents, that Republicans were bad. Not just wrong or misguided or a political opponent. But bad.
Imagine My Reaction
I was surprised. Shocked, maybe. The moment still sticks out in my mind almost 20 years later. I may have even felt ashamed. For some reason, I had “outed” myself as something that other people looked down on. Something bad. Something maybe even evil as far as they were concerned.
That was the first moment I felt hatred from “the left.” It’s anecdotal, sure. I have no idea what became of my classmate or what he considers himself to be today, politically speaking. Granted, he was not “the left” at 17 years old and every bit as uninformed as I was. But whomever put that attitude in his head sure was.
It continued into college.
My experience in college was not as crazy as you hear about today. But the hateful left was there as well. There are a few moments that stick out in my mind as examples of what could be considered “hatred” by “the left” in college. I’ll stick to one for now.
I had just started school. This would probably have been barely a year after the exchange in high school. My first year in college and one of my first classes. A representative from a local New York organization came to speak with one of our classes.
This organization is relatively well known in New York and I won’t mention them by name. Primarily, they work towards social and environmental reform in and around New York State. The individual speaking (they may have been a student but I’m not sure), was pitching the organization and trying to get volunteers to come get involved. After telling us about all the things they were working on, I was interested. I mean, why not get involved, right? Maybe I could do some good.
The speaker said at the end of her talk that if we were interested to come see her and sign up.
“Unless you’re a Republican,” she said. “If so, then f**k you and we don’t want’cha.”
And just about everyone, including the professor, laughed.
Nothing To See Here?
It wasn’t the foul language. I’d heard plenty by then. I didn’t grow up sheltered. As a teenager, I was as foul-mouthed as they come. Still am, sometimes. But it was all of it. This person had been invited or at least allowed to come and speak to a Freshman college class. She cursed half the country and said “we don’t want you in our group.” The professor, leader of the class and a representative of the school, laughed and went right along with it. The hateful left strikes again.
Therefore, the message was clear. Republicans were not welcome at my school. If it wasn’t clear from that moment, it became clearer in the months and years ahead. I experienced or witnessed similar moments. Nothing was violent or traumatizing, mind you. But it was there and it was accepted.
If I had any Republican classmates, they didn’t out themselves. Classroom discussions about any social, government, or economic issue had to be given a left-leaning curve to it otherwise you weren’t taken seriously. No one voiced opposition. That the left-leaning perspective was the correct one was a foregone conclusion. Of course this is the right view to have. Anything else would just be ridiculous, if not evil. I, like many others, put my head down, did my work, and didn’t get involved.
This ridicule, condemnation, hatred, or spiteful feelings about the opposition were only coming, as far as I could see, from one side. The left. Republicans were the punchline to jokes. George W. Bush was literally Hitler (yes, it was said back then too), and anyone who was even slightly “on the right” was basically not welcomed in with open arms.
No, It Did Not Start With Trump
People like to speak about Trump as the cause of all this. That’s far too convenient. President Trump will not be remembered for being a great Statesman or an eloquent speaker. His rhetoric is charged, no doubt. However, as others have pointed out, Trump is not the cause. Trump is the effect. He is not the disease, but the symptom. Trump is not the beginning, and he may not be the end either.
The election of Trump is a response by Republicans for years of being demonized by their opponents.
Think aborting a baby is bad? You’re a misogynist who hates women. Want to own a gun? You support school shootings and love dead teenagers. Think there’s problems with welfare and it needs to be reformed? You hate poor people, you monster. Do you dare think that maybe the government running healthcare is a bad idea? Wow, now you hate sick cancer patients and want them to die. This is the hateful left.
Bubbling For Years
Years of this, fueled by fiery political rhetoric from the hateful left, and propped up by a corrupt and biased media which is essentially the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party (except for Fox News which is the same thing, just in the opposite direction), has led to this.
First, Republicans sent the good ol’ boy establishment GOP guy from Texas and he was called an illiterate moron who was somehow also literally Hitler and evil.
Then, Republicans sent the war hero whom the left has only recently decided they like again now that he’s deceased. He too was literally Hitler and according to Democrats and the media, probably senile and going to die in office. Then along came Mitt Romney. Perhaps the most morally decent person to seek the Presidency in the last several years. He too, was maligned as a rich misogynist with “binders full of women” who was going to bring back slavery.
Finally, Republicans said f**k it. This country is a china shop and we’re sending in the bull.
By The Way, I’m Not Even A Republican
I never felt like I was “raised to be a Republican.” It wasn’t a core part of my childhood. I certainly was not raised to hate my political opponents. Nor was I raised to think they were bad people. Certainly not evil.
I’m not even a Republican. When I turned 18 I registered to vote. My registration says “Independent.” It did then and it does now. Perhaps in part due to my upbringing I tend to side more with “the right” on issues, but I’m not a Republican and never have been.
So no, I’m not even a Republican. But based on my experienced with the hateful left as well as the behavior of the Democratic Party, I’m sure as hell not that either. I didn’t #walkaway from the Democratic Party. They never wanted me there to begin with.