Have you ever met someone who is so inclined to “hate” that you might henceforth refer to them in some manner by their affinity for hating?
Since “hatred” holds so much potential to motivate people, it was only a matter of time that such a dynamic would be deployed, or “unleashed”, in politics. Hatred has probably been used to manipulate elections for about as long as there have been elections. Judging from what we observe these days in political advertising, it was determined long ago that people don’t “turn out in droves to vote” in response to “love”, but we sure do so in response to hate. For many politicians, it appears that one’s political pedigree is dependent upon their “hating” record, also known as a voting record.
Most political observers agree that “hatred” became a more refined political strategy with the coming of the “southern strategy,” the strategy being that the ridicule of all things identified with, or helpful to, a minority population would be identified with by southern whites, in an effort to appeal to their generations-old racism, which would result in their making the subsequent determination that the Republican “ridiculer” is vote-worthy. That’s why Ronald Reagan ridiculed “these welfare queens, riding around in their Cadillacs,” and why he chose to launch his 1980 presidential campaign by giving a “states rights” speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a small town made infamous by being near the place where three civil rights workers were murdered in June, 1964. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater spelled out the strategy in what has become known as the “45-minute interview” in 1981 while he was on Reagan’s staff.
In a “closer to home” example, a formerly obscure and unknown state legislator from a very small town in Kansas became national news in March, 2011, when he suggested aloud, during a House Appropriations Committee meeting, that the same helicopter hunting strategy being considered for the eliminating of “feral hogs” be used to kill “illegal aliens,” which were apparently overrunning this politician’s small community in southeast Kansas. He told a Lawrence Kansas newspaper, “I was just speaking like a southeast Kansas person.” Having placed himself firmly on the “hating these illegals” side, he was subsequently re-elected, and currently portrays himself to be one “who can be counted on to do the right thing” (from his website).
Interestingly enough, the hogs in question are referred to as “feral,” an adjective which, according to Webster, means “existing in an untamed state” or “having returned to an untamed state from domestication.” The humans, on the other hand, are referred to by the more judgmental and acrimonious terms “illegal” and “alien.”
Could this be the “southern strategy” at work, particularly considering the fact that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach went so far as to travel to Texas to join Ted Nugent in hunting feral hogs from a helicopter? And we all know how Kobach feels about “illegals.”