Talking about reducing the vitriol in political discussion in this country is unrealistic when somewhere between twenty and thirty percent at each end of the political spectrum believes that the political system is an illegitimate usurpation of power by either an entrenched public sector elite or a corporate elite.* It’s not the rhetoric that clothes the beliefs that are dangerous: it’s the beliefs themselves.
*The evidence is at most suggestive, but at one time 36% could not say with confidence that 9/11 wasn’t an “inside job” by the Bush administration, and more recently, 23% cannot say with confidence that President Obama is a U.S. citizen with constitutional authority to serve as president. I don’t believe these are the reasons for the belief in illegitimacy, but they are symptomatic of it. I will explore the reasons in a future post.