By Rod Dreher
Russian Orthodoxy treasures the yurodivy, or “holy fool,” an ascetic who behaves in ways that seem insane to normal people, but who, in so doing, reveal Christian truth. The New Age guru and Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson is not a holy fool according to the usual definition, but I can’t help thinking that to some extent, she’s playing that role. We all love to laugh at her, because she is something of a kook … but she’s onto something important about us.
In last night’s Democratic debate, Williamson spoke of the “dark psychic force” of “collectivized hatred” that Donald Trump draws up and exploits. Here’s the clip:
I know: ha ha, what a ding-dong! But she’s not wrong, except in that she pins this entirely on Trump. David French says that yes, it’s obvious that Trump stokes and weaponizes this stuff. But in pointing out that the other side does too, French — an original Never Trumper — is not trying to whatabout the discussion. He writes:
At the risk of incurring Williamson’s wrath by getting a tad wonky, there is a nerd term for Williamson’s psychic force. It’s called negative polarization, it’s rampant, and it’s used to rationalize and justify all manner of excesses and outrages. Essentially, negative polarization means that individuals are drawn to their political party or faction primarily out of a spirit of opposition. They hate the other side more than they love their own.
As I’ve written many times before, the evidence of that hate is everywhere — especially in America’s most politically engaged citizens. A recent study documented some rather alarming statistics. For example, “42 percent of the people in each party view the opposition as ‘downright evil.’” A stunning 20 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans believe “we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died.” And if the opposing party wins the 2020 election, 18 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Republicans “feel violence would be justified.” A More in Common survey found that 86 percent of Republicans think Democrats are brainwashed, 84 percent think they’re hateful, and 71 percent think they’re racist. The Democrats were even more disdainful of Republicans — 88 percent think Republicans are brainwashed, 87 percent think they’re hateful, and 89 percent think they’re racist.
Each side has its own narrative — pointing to real incidents and real bigotry — that justifies its increasing disdain. And don’t think for a moment that this is a phenomenon that started with Trump. Pew Research Center data from 2014 shows an astonishing rise in polarization even before Trump. Republicans and Democrats not only grew further apart ideologically, they hated each other more. The percentage of Americans holding a “very unfavorable” view of their political opponents more than doubled between 1994 and 2014, on both sides.
The Left (so far) has not produced a national politician as capable of embodying and mobilizing negative polarization as well as Trump has. But it will. …read more
Via:: American Conservative
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