The Hawkins Theory Of Political Hatred
Wesley Pruden is the latest columnist to weigh in on “Bush Hatred”. This topic has been hit from almost every angle over the last few months. Comparisons between Bush hatred and Clinton hatred, trying to figure out why the left hates Bush, lefties reveling in Bush hatred, etc, etc, etc.
I’ve already chipped in my two cents on this topic before, but I’d like to add something and that’s my “Hawkins theory of political hatred” which goes as follows…
“People who hate their political opponents almost always end up turning off so many non-partisan voters that they do more damage to themselves than their adversaries.”
I say that because when you loathe your opponent, you tend to make a lot of mistakes. You don’t correctly analyze their reasons for doing things, you have trouble understanding why other people don’t share your views, and you become so overly critical that others who aren’t as partisan as you are simply stop paying attention tbecause they believe you’re “crying wolf” about your opponent’s faults.
So what happens then? Scandals — even one’s that have some “there there,” get no traction, the voters tune you out, and they also begin to believe there’s a problem with YOU, not your opponents.
That’s exactly what happened to the GOP during the Clinton years and I have been pleased to see the Democrats making the same mistake. In the end, I suspect their hatred will help us at the ballot box in 2004…
***Update #1***: In the comments section, Steve_in_Corona says in part, “John, not sure I follow you here. Clinton hatred led to the most dramatic electoral turnaround in probably the entire 20th century – the 1994 elections. Talk about your motivated voter! “.
I respectfully disagree. I think the GOP’s success in 1994 elections had much more to do with Newt Gingrich’s brilliant “Contract With America” which nationalized congressional elections and gave voters issues to rally around, rather than Clinton’s scandals. It’s also worth noting that Clinton left office with a 66% approval rating.
IMO, the country has been slowly but surely moving to the right since Reagan came into office and the Clinton hating actually slowed down our progress, not aided it as some people think.