Back when George W. Bush was campaigning to be president he promised he'd be a uniter and not a divider. He wanted to change the tone in Washington. Work with Congress, no matter what political affiliation. Of course, he also promised he would not do nation-building. So where did the hate start?
My take is, cleverly disguised think tanks planted the seeds during the Bill Clinton presidency. Some people became real Clinton-haters. I remember thinking at the time, how rude and cruel and crazy the voices sounded -- calling Clinton a murderer and rapist, a thief and a fraud. Hillary called it a "vast right-wing conspiracy." But eight years ago the words liberal and conservative weren't dirty words. Right-wing and left-wing were both valid political stances. Neo-conservatives did not sit at the main table.
Fast forward to today. So many aspects of our lives are weighed and measured and judged based on whether one calls oneself a Democrat or a Republican. When you testify in a Congressional committee, some lawmaker just has to ask, "Are you a Democrat?" Nevermind that you honorably served a Republican Administration. If you question a GW Bush appointee, or oppose US foreign policy, you deserve to be discounted, swift-boated, and discredited. You get to be called a traitor who deserves public humiliation and there are even some who will call for your hanging.
The US is more divided today than I can ever remember. The right doesn't trust the left any more than the left trusts the right. If you aren't with "them" you're against "them." Evil vs. good. Black vs. white. Dirty liberal pinko-commie hippie weaklings who want peace which equals surrender, vs. strong gun-toting smoke-em-out or just nuke the crap out of 'em, real Amurikans who won't settle for anything but victory.
It is as if GW Bush has the hands of a neo-conservative version of Midas. Everything he touches splits into opposing camps. Here in the US, it's rich vs. poor, corporations vs. workers, right vs. left, business vs. the environment. Iraq used to be united, but now... We have Sunni vs. Shia, Shia vs. Shia, Kurdistan vs. the rest of Iraq, Iraqi people vs. the puppet government that is trying to privatize Iraqi treasure.
Divide and conquer. It works the same at home as it does abroad.
Meet George W. Bush: the man with the D'vidus Touch.