America has a long history of hate. Since its very inception, this country has been very literally built on the backs of people of color, people whose most basic human rights are so tragically new and still nowhere near right or fair. If you are not white, straight, male, cisgender, above the poverty line, or often at very best privileged by being just one of those things, this country has made it very difficult to just exist, with the truth that it could be much worse elsewhere as a supposed comfort.
With this election cycle, that hate is taking center stage in a way not seen in many of our lifetimes. Because that hate has been emboldened and empowered, and, thanks to social media, disseminated more widely than ever before. As so many of us—what could easily feel like the majority of us until we started seeing the numbers—grew more progressive and understanding, however incremental it was and is, a massive population has grown less tolerant and more aggressive in its ignorance and powerful hatred.
So many elements have come together to create this tornado of awful we’re presently seeing. The rise of the Christian right, 9/11, the subsequent rise of blind patriotism and nationalism, and with that its widespread excuse for hatred of “others.” Fox News came along and provided a source for fear-mongering and supposed evidence to be used by its viewers. Social media grew and as so many people showed more understanding of the issues faced by the marginalized (you may know these people as the oft-cried “social justice warriors”), the inability of many more to do that became more visible.
Perhaps out of privilege or simple naivety, it felt as though this was limited to online trolls, a subset of the population. But now, thanks to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and their impossible-to-imagine rise, we know that’s not the case.
America has showed itself. And it’s not a small group. And it’s not an aging population who simply grew up in a time when they didn’t know better.
And it’s growing.
Even among those who aren’t necessarily supportive of the far-right, you can see a growing darkness. Supposed liberal Americans filling Facebook with demands for protesters in Ferguson and fighting for safe spaces on college campuses to “grow up” and “act like adults.” Denizens of Bernie Sanders, proclaiming their place in the revolution, attacking people of color for somehow not knowing what’s good for them, and spouting misogyny like a fountain set to a Hillary Clinton-shaped motion sensor. And heaven forbid a woman makes a choice they don’t agree with. It’s all getting louder and louder and the fever pitch of hate is deafening and overwhelming to the point of emotional shutdown.
Perhaps that’s how it wins.
It’s a deeply depressing time to be an American. For way too many of us, it always has been. But if the ignorance and hate continues to fill the nation, to drown the rest of us out, it’s going to get a lot worse.