There is a far greater level of suspiciousness in politics among the electorate than previously. Think about the negative stereotypes of politicians and political discussion as the guide to understanding negative attitudes in politics as such. It seems that the worst one could say about the older perception was that politics is about (1) grandiosity and self-seeking among the politicians (I associate this with the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz), and (2) blowhard opinionating among the people, neither of which was perceived by most as being an important part of normal life. Though our new suspicions build on that, they introduce new elements.
The new ickiness is on both sides, and what characterizes it is not a lack of civility: that’s surface effect. It’s a lack of trust. Both sides seem to think the other side is deeply malicious and no more to be reasoned with than an enemy soldier who is shooting at you. I find this really really disturbing. (I was watching Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles recently, which is also quite intriguing as a portrait of the disintegration of the American family, and a recurring element is how important it is to not trust people because though they seem just like you and act just like you, really they are just soulless robots programmed to deceive, exploit and then kill you. Just like [pick one: Republicans|Democrats]).
In an earlier post I moaned about not having any political allies because of the philosophical oddities of my perspective (sympathetic to Cato-style liberal-libertarianism, but minus the obsession with economic efficiency and fantasies about natural right). But perhaps the recipe for isolation is a fundamental decency and trust of human beings that increasingly has no place in our world.