It appears on the Internet, that Hate trumps Love.
- There are 4370 Google hits for “Right Wing Hate Machine”.
- There are 3690 for “Republican Hate Machine”
- There are 4850 for “Left Wing Hate Machine”
- There are 571 for “Democratic Hate Machine”+ 840 for “Democrat Hate Machine”
- There are 3 Google hits for the “Right Wing Love Machine”
- There are 5 for “Republican Love Machine”
- There are 43 for “Left Wing Love Machine”
- There are 9 for “Democratic Love Machine” + 4 for “Democrat Love Machine”
and these are generally ironic or sarcastic.
When I attended a Reformocon (Reform Conservatism) summit 18 months ago, (where I presented Modernizing America’s Transportation Policy) someone snarked I was getting in bed with the Right Wing Hate Machine, and I shot back, no, it’s the Right Wing Love Machine.
Perhaps I am naive, but I believe there is a difference in the two groups. The Right-Wing Hate Machine (RWHM), comprising what we now call alt-right, fueled by talk radio, sanctioned by many churches and so-called religious leaders, and most recently inspired by Donald Trump, spews hate. It is the physical embodiment of the comments section on the Internet.
In contrast the Right Wing Love Machine (RWLM)* puts forward policy they will believe makes America better. As it is comprised of fallible people instead of Vulcans, it does sometimes get a bit worked up and needlessly mischaracterizes the opposition, but they don’t go around encouraging race war and trying to intimidate people. The difference between the RWHM and the RWLM is the difference between saying ‘Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster’ and ‘Hillary Clinton earned a lot of money while in “public service” somehow.’
The Left-Wing Hate Machine is not nearly so bad, nor so organized, nor has taken over a party, but is a natural response to the RWHM, and does needlessly demonize those they disagree with, practicing the politics of personal destruction, defining demons down, making it harder when they need to demonize someone actually worth demonizing.
Given what the two extreme wings say about each other why would anyone want to become a political figure. And given why a sane, rational person wouldn’t want to be a politician, is it a surprise we so seldom get great figures to be leaders.
A Love Machine tries to make the world a better place. You may disagree with its policies, but it keeps policy differences distinct from character assassination. Ideally we would have two (or more) sides that seek common ground, respect their opposition, understand the rules of the game, and acknowledge the results of legitimate elections.
The problem materializes in asymmetric warfare. It appears that Jesus’ admonition to “turn the other cheek” is insufficient, and will get you branded as a spineless weakling. One side cannot turn off the hate while the other continues to spew it. “When they go low, we go high” are nice words, but don’t think there aren’t sharp elbows nearby as well. When I say “one side” does this, it doesn’t mean everyone on that side does this. The first lady does not, nor does the President. They have allies and supporters who do.
Instead we have a dilemma where the rational strategy for one side is to spew hate when the other spews hate, and to spew hate when the other projects love. In short, because people don’t punish (and instead reward) going negative in campaigns and governance, we see negativity.
In game theory, the solution to the Prisoner’s Dilemma lies in Indefinitely Repeated Games. When a positive sum game is repeated an unknown number of times, cooperation beats defection. A single congressional or Presidential race however is played once, there is no repetition, hence no incentive for cooperating if you cannot enforce it by retaliating in the future. A competition between two stable political parties in contrast, has the potential to have the dynamics of Indefinitely Repeated Games. They can come to an agreement not to go negative on each other, to draw and respect boundaries of civil discourse. But this requires the long lasting institution of parties controls the politicking rather than many distinct individuals running personal campaigns. A parliamentary system with strong parties moves in that direction (though one can hardly say parliamentary systems lack negativity).
The other aspect of this Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma is that cooperation works if it is a positive sum game, that is, if the collective payoff of cooperating exceeds that of defecting. While people should be happier without negative campaigning, in the end much of politics is zero sum, either one side holds control or their opposition does. But policy is not. There should be gains from policy trades as the two sides care unequally about different issues. These policy trades are far more likely in a system where people get along and keep the personal out of it, while discourse remains professional. Again, people, even politicians, are not Vulcans.
In a Parliamentary System, the party in the majority can dictate its platform if it can whip its members in line. However, many systems have multiple parties, and lack a single majority party so require cooperation.
I realize the US will not get Parliamentary government any time soon. In the mean time …
Hate has always been with us. It seems to spike around elections, and has become far more visible with new social media smashing the moderating and centralizing influence of mid- late 20th century American Mass Media. One hopes new tools will come about which don’t silence dissent, but still defang the hate mongers.
After Donald Trump loses in November, it remains essential for America’s future for an there to be effective opposition party at the national level in the United States, one that was reasoned, pointed out the problems with the majority party’s solutions, and itself offered me alternatives and offered me solutions rather than simply playing Bartleby the Scrivener.
This requires the Love Machine reasserting control, pointing out how the Hate Machine, which has controlled the Republican Party in Congress for years now, and has foisted on the world such a piece of work as their nominee, has failed to achieve any of its ends, and has thus forfeited claims to legitimate control the party. This also requires the everyday membership develop a better filter to distinguish between the Love Machine, the Hate Machine, and the Batshit Insane.
The shorthand for identifying a member of the Right Wing Love Machine is any Republican who has disowned Trump from the start, or at least the middle, of the race, and stuck to it. #NeverTrump-come-latelies, who endorsed and then dis-endorsed, will of course make nice with the party, but they wear a virtual scarlet T, discrediting them in the eyes of the everyone else.
* Yes, there will be snark about a “Right Wing Love Machine” given the misdeeds, reputations, and boasting of Mr. Trump, Mr. Hastert, Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Giuliani and their brethren. I am sure the RWLM will not actually go by this name. Sex is not love people. The Right Wing Sex Machine would be a vastly different thing.