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Voter fatique, anger and hate: A deadly trio that threatens America

By DOUG THOMPSON
A Capitol Hill Blue Commentary
June 4, 2012

An agry voter vents his spleen against former Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (Bradley C. Bower/Associated Press)

In Wisconsin Tuesday, voters go to the polls for the seventh time in 14 months.  That’s an election every 60 days.  With recalls, special elections and whatnot, voters in Wisconsin say they are just sick and tired of politics and elections.

They’re not alone.

In emails, interviews and postings, voters from sea to shining sea tell Capitol Hill Blue they are sick and tired of nonstop campaigning, 24/7 political news and the endless barrage of campaign ads, robocalls an pollsters.

“We haven’t even reached the convention yet and I’m sick and tired of the whole thing,” says Susanna Bennett of Milwaukee.  ‘We go in and vote and it doesn’t mean a goddamned thing.”

Allison Watkins of Denver writes in an email that she’s afraid to pick up the phone for fear it will be another pollster or automated phone call promoting or slamming a candidate or cause.

“At this point, I’d welcome a call from a collection agency,” she says.

Which begs the question: If voters are bummed out now, six months before the election, what will they be in November.

“Pissed off,” says Arthur Maxwell of Danbury, North Carolina.  “I look at my choices and cringe. I’d just as soon toss the whole lot out and start over.”

Political strategist Gary Cardin says voter fatigue is growing and may reach epidemic proportions this year.

“Voters are tired, they’re frustrated and they’re unhappy with what they see as limited differences between the candidates,” Cardin says. “It is little wonder that populist movement gain momentum in this political environment.  Voters have no where else to turn so they look for alternatives even when those alternatives may represent the political fringe.”

Along with voter fatigue, political veterans worry about the rise in anger and outright hate in America.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, says membership is up in militias, white supremacist and separatist groups.

In 2011, the SPLC found, the number of active hate groups in America topped 1,000 for the first time and the organization found a disturbing increase in the anti-government “Patriot” movement.

Says the center:

Several factors fueled the growth: resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the lagging economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at minorities and the government.

Far-right extremists remain highly energized, even as politicians across the country co-opt many of the radical ideas and issues that are important to them,” said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report. “This success in having their voices heard in the political arena, where they have long occupied the fringe of conservative thought, might eventually take the wind out of their sails, but so far we’re not seeing any sign of that.”

The SPLC documented 1,002 hate groups operating in 2010 – a 7.5 percent increase from the 932 groups active a year earlier and a 66 percent rise since 2000. It is the first time the number of hate groups has topped 1,000 since the SPLC began counting them in the 1980s.

But the most dramatic growth in the radical right came in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. These conspiracy-minded organizations, which see the federal government as their primary enemy, grew by 61 percent over the previous year. Their numbers increased to 824 groups in 2010, from 512 groups a year earlier. Previously, the only higher count of Patriot groups came in 1996, during the movement’s heyday, when the SPLC found 858 groups. Militias, the paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement, grew from 127 groups to 330 – a 160 percent increase.

Does this kind of anger and hate translate into reform of the American political system?  We doubt it.  When anger replaces reason and hate dominates debate, the result is all too often chaotic and dangerous.

There’s no doubt that the political system that runs this country is in deep, serious trouble.

But does voter fatique, anger and hate deal with the problem or simply add to it?

In our opinion, giving up, getting mad or dispensing hate only makes things worse.

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9 Responses to Voter fatique, anger and hate: A deadly trio that threatens America

  1. Sandy Price

    June 4, 2012 at 10:25 am

    “Anger replaces reason” says it all! The rise in hate groups has been around since the end of WW2. Angry people began to group together and they found little in the way of positive leadership. It may be my loss of memory but where is the concept of replacing whose politicians that trigger our anger?

    Rather than searching for a person to lead us out of our anger, the angry people turned on the government itself. Look at Rome, look at the French Revolution and finally look at our American Revolution. Oh yes, America did gather around a revolution that put our anger into order.

    Our break from England had a purpose and it worked. It was only a start in our desire for a Democracy. It was based on REASON and it worked.

    Keeping America on the correct road to success has been the problem. We took our collective eyes off the target of freedom and a massive superstition took over that helped assign a label dividing all of us and leading us back in the attitude of anger.

    Freeing the slaves gave them a label of race that has grown over the years. The list of hate groups from Potok has not decreased over the years and has fine-tuned the groups showing more and more anger.

    We now have anger defining these growing groups and many on their way have picked up with the religious right and are now designing the force of promoting only white Christian membership based on anger that goes back over 2000 years.

    Americans are programmed to use only the two major groups trying for leadership and these two groups will go to war based on how much anger brings in the most money.

    We haven’t a clue what Gov. Romney will do with the power behind the White House. He will fail or survive based on how much anger is found in the House and Senate. “REASON” no longer exists in either House.

    We have a major war going on in Wisconsin on whether Unions can exist or fail. I have no dog in this fight because the war is being fought on a false premise. I see no problem with workers having a choice on union membership. My problem is their demand on never crossing a picket line that goes along with the union contract. The unions seem to want to direct the lives of their members. Is that unreasonable? I think it is.

    Thank you Doug. We need more commentaries like this to get CHB to get involved is these issues.

    Now, all we need is some leadership based on REASON to represent our alternatives. I would love to see more involvement from the Governors but not if it means having to put up with the anger found in groups like the Tea Party.

    • tabonsell

      June 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      Don’t drink the anti-union Kool-Aid because unions are not trying to “direct the lives of their members”.

      A system in which two groups with somewhat conflicting objectives get together (labor and management) and work out an acceptable agreement after discussing their differences, is the essence of a democracy.

      A system in which the one at the peak of the pyramid directs everyone and everything below that “you will take what I decide you will take. No discussion, No agreements. My word is all, that matters” it the bedrock of a dictatorship.

      Do you need any other lesson on why the political right is so hell bent on destroying any and all unions?

  2. Lillibet Hunt

    June 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I sometimes find myself wondering if we are stuck in a time loop that has taken us back to a 21st Century version of pre-War Germany. Were we paperclipped, transported in real time into a nightmare version of the Fourth Reich? We’ve had destruction of the Constitution legalized, our rights curtailed, our privacy eliminated. But wait, there’s more. We also have crippling refusal to cooperate among leaders and hate groups multiplying like mushrooms after a rain. And so, I wonder…

    Are we to be governed by control over our every move, from associations in the workplace to governing our reproductive rights, if those still exist, to monitoring every email to be certain we’re not part of some unapproved association?

    Really?

    And, they throw in an election every 60 days for Wisconsin, but the rest of us are fatigued even without that stunning frequency of electoral largesse. Those of us in less strenuous election areas are also fatigued. Tired beyond words, in fact.

    During the last Big Election, many of us voted for different things, and certainly for serious change from the last guy. What we got was more of the same, doubled down and made more serious. We are unable to go to certain buildings if celebrities of a certain protection scheme, and we can be disappeared forever without anyone knowing, thanks to a New Year’s Eve signing spree in the WH.

    Is this how they want us to be encouraged and willing participants in a scheme to defraud every last one of us for the benefit of the top of the proverbial heap? Or, should we just close our eyes and believe that all is well, clicking those ruby slippers will bring us out of Oz, and there is no one behind the curtain?

    I am fatigued by what passes for politicians these days, who seem to be interested only in their own benefits. I am tired of rulers, rather than government that governs. There is a difference. I am sick of searchings, proddings, probings and intimidation from any side. I am tired, bone tired, of hoping someday a politician will actually follow through on a promise, and being disappointed 100% of the time, decade in and decade out.

    • Willie Buck Merle

      June 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      You speaketh truth about Weimar.

  3. Sandy Price

    June 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Good stuff Lil. Maybe the women should gather around and do something about our problems. I’m long past the need for women’s health issues but my girls and granddaughter are absolutely in need of as much care as possible. It is not the cost of these procedures as much as the care the women receive in preventive medicine. My girls are very busy in their work and do not seem convinced they need to follow up on preventive actions. They are too old to take any more directives from me. I had to learn when to stop overseeing their medical care.

    My girls have chosen not to breed but that should have nothing to do with how they maintain their health in their later years.

    Hope you are well and happy. Enjoy your summer.

  4. Almandine

    June 4, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    The SPLC as the bastion of truth, justice, and sound opinion?

    Many would say otherwise… e.g.,

    (Link removed because we don’t use this site to send traffic to extremist, fringe web sites)

    • Doug Thompson

      June 5, 2012 at 6:27 am

      “Many would say otherwise…” ????

      Mac, you find a link to an obscure, extremist web site and use that to make a claim that “many” doubt the SPLC’s motives.

      Not here you don’t.

      I’ve warned you before about digging up links to sites like this and the link has been removed. This site does not exist to provide a platform for the ravings of lunatic web sites.

      The link has been removed.

  5. Lillibet Hunt

    June 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Sandy, I hope you and your girls are and remain well, happy and healthy.

    I don’t know what the answer is for the current crop of candidates. It’s going to require more than women standing together. We need good men and women of sound mind and little tolerance for the idiocy spewed 24/7 by the political class, the media class and the class that need more schooling.

    The choice of clean the slate and start over is attractive. Surely these are not the best we can put out for electing. We also need to erase billions of pages of statutes, regulations and caselaw to restore justice to the judicial system. Both law and lawmakers need a remake.

    Working as I do in the legal system, I am appalled at the low level of what is called without the appropriate laugh track, justice. I work in the system and fear I made a wrong choice those decades ago. Each day is another heartbreak, even when I win, because getting to winning requires so much more effort to identify true truth that would earlier have been self evident, over truth that is concocted in another lawyer’s mind (existing nowhere else in the Universe.)

    In an age of universal falsehood that has permeated every level of society, it is darned difficult to even have the time to contemplate improvement when running full speed just to stay still.

  6. Keith

    June 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Many of us can still remember when our elected representatives didn’t need millions upon millions of dollars to get elected and were therefore NOT in a perpetual campaign mode.

    That fact, in turn, has fueled the need for candidates to amass millions upon millions of dollars for campaign advertising, travel…and polling. The result is a self-perpetuating political class who now must regularly accept “bribes” in the form of campaign cash in order to feed their habit. And the amount of cash they amass before and during actual voting is, it turn, based on the results of seemingly endless polls that rely on a seemingly endless harassment of “victims” (voters) from pollsters continually looking up every orifice of every potential voter’s anatomy.

    Living in New Hampshire as I do, I was ready to pull my telephone out of the wall in the weeks and months leading up to our Primary last January.

    Not only did I and my family have to endure each and every candidate’s endless political blather on television, we also had to endure all the automated “get out the vote” and pollster phone calls directed our way at all hours. It got the point that we were missing important personal calls because none of us dared answer the phone for fear of having to endure yet another pollster’s stupid questions.

    Political campaigns in our country now go on for too damn long. And we, the people, can and must break this horribly corrupt cycle.

    As I’ve said previously, our friends to the north in Canada have the right idea. There, once the government “dissolves” everyone has just 30 days or so to campaign, with the taxpayers largely picking up the tab for their (refreshingly brief) campaigns. Then, elections are held and everyone goes back to work.

    Because their elections are largely publicly funded, Canadians have never had to endure the seemingly endless bombardment of political advertising and intrusive polling (along with all the other related BS that goes with such perpetual campaigning). And, as you might guess, life is FAR less politically polarized north of the border as a direct result.

    However, the big problem with such short campaigns, of course, would be that some three TRILLION dollars of campaign cash (as estimated for the 2008 US elections) would no longer be flowing into corporate pockets. That’s because, unfortunately, political campaigns have now become a HUGE (spelled: “perpetually self-fulfilling”) industry in our country.

    And THAT my friends…as with so many other things ailing our nation today…is the REAL root cause of the problem!