Beware The Dangers Of America’s Cultural Revolution


More than 40 years ago, Americans watched the Chinese Great Cultural Revolution and were shocked by the rudeness of the young, the demonization of those in opposition, the redefinition of key words and phrases, all of which led to a tremendous drop in prosperity for the whole country.

We are now going through something similar here in America. Watch the news on television, particularly the cable stations which provide news around the clock, and many of us who are older wonder what happened to all the old rules.

We used to have a phrase “loyal opposition” to describe the minority party, those out of power. It was expected that even though they would argue against policies of the majority, they would accept the fact that they did not have control.

This no longer happens. Our politicians seem to have gone mad. Now, to be appropriately honest, I am a cynic. My own view is that politicians can be divided into two groups: those who are bought and those who are just not worth the money. Of course, money is just one element involved. If you want to move ahead as a Democrat, just go left. For the Republicans, it used to be to go right, but since Trump, even that is dubious.

At this point, there are no real debates. Representatives of the parties talk past each other. It is not enough to simply agree to disagree, or even to simply disagree. You must paint the other opinion as clearly wrong, almost certainly insane, the work of evil people who expect some kind of reward from their bad works, and, if one is religious, probably the work of the devil.

I was watching Bill Maher on HBO and he said that living in America now is like living in Nazi Germany, and the audience went wild with applause. Of course, had he been that critical of Adolf Hitler, it is likely he would have been a resident of concentration camp by nightfall. Perhaps a good chunk of the audience would have been there, too, for the crime of listening to him. Some people were saying similar things on Inauguration Day, before President Trump even had a chance to do anything much to annoy anyone. But if you oppose Trump, then he or those who support him are clearly evil. Women who voted for him were obviously being intimidated by their husbands. And so on.

And, of course, the conservatives among us spent countless hours going over Bill Clinton’s antics, particularly dealing with women, as a reason to not support Hillary Clinton. People reading conservative web sites would wonder why Ms. Clinton was not residing in some federal prison for crimes they are certain could easily be proven if only the evil liberals in power went after them. And they were certain the “deep state” was covering up her crimes.

There have been reports of divorces over disagreements, although I wonder about the solidity of the marriages if that could drive the people apart. We certainly know of people who will no longer really talk to friends they have had for decades because of political disagreements.

All of this has led to tragedy. There are real problems facing this nation. But if different groups do not listen to each other, there are no grounds for compromise. Obamacare was passed with almost no Republican votes. The recent Republican tax cut had very few Democratic supporters. Our infrastructure is falling apart, many school systems are in disaster mode, and whether or not a bill passes seems more based on politics than need.

It makes it easier to hold a political base when the other side is painted as “evil.” Of course, that also means we will be cutting off some of our friends and limiting relations with some of our family members. We can congratulate ourselves on being really smart, since our ideas are clearly the correct ones; all issues are settled. Well, settled until something new pops in that has to be integrated.

And clearly those other evil folk are responsible for bridges not being repaired, for needed changes in regulations, for improving education, for dealing with problems with crime. Let’s face it. It really feels wonderful to know how right we are. On the other hand, our country may be going down the tubes. And, somehow, maybe all of us are to blame.