About when did the hate begin?

The Democrat and Republican parties have been around a long time, at least back to the days of Lincoln I believe, and have worked together at times to get things done. This occasionally (seemingly rarely) happens today. We are at the point now where we do not even have a budget for the 2011 fiscal year, but omnibus bills in its stead.

While there have been arguments, disagreements, twisting of facts, etc since the the birth of politics, when did the (for lack of a better phrase) the deep, dark hatred of the “other party and their ideas” in America begin?

In a parallel question, Why does an idea of one party almost always absolutely turn the other party immediately against it without debate, and result in near perfect party-line voting on most issues in Congress?

Was there a moment in time that was the spark that lit this fire? Or has this just been smoldering forever and has finally turned into the conflagration that it is today?

It really started getting bad under Clinton, but basically, I think it has its roots in Reagan’s pandering to the religious right and the Republican party becoming more and more dominated by that faction. Religious mania allows no compromise.

It started during Clinton, I’d say. The left was apoplectic that that the President wasn’t given a pass for lying under oath. Then, with all that anger pent up, we had the debacle in Florida following the 2000 election.

Arguably that’s when it became obvious, but the roots go back to the Republicans adopting the “Southern Strategy” in the sixties, when it became clear that an attractive voter base could be courted not by their enlightened self-interests, but by their fears. Nixon was a past master at this sort of thing when the fear was of Communism, so he adapted pretty readily.

It started when the second party to be incorporated came into being, because power is not for sharing.

Give me a break. The right wing hatred for Clinton (and the ridiculous conspiracy theories like Vince Foster, etc.) long preceeded the Lewinsky perjury trap. Conservatives went out of their minds that a pot-smoking war protester got elected President and could never let it go.

Precisely–they got so mad that they crashed a Cessna into Gingrich’s house, fired an automatic rifle at Rush Limbaugh’s house, and even planned to assassinate Bob Dole with a poisoned cactus thorn flicked from a lighter. What is it with those lefties?

A friend of mine who’s a US political history maven insists that we’re just coming out of a period of relative civility in US politics: it’s always been pretty bad here.

Seems to me right around the collapse of communism (early 90’s). With no external enemy to demonize and frighten voters anymore, certain groups had to look internally.

Ah, for the days of Lincoln when the parties got along decently with no great divides or hatred of the other side that could lead to a Senator being caned into unconciousness on the Senate floor. Certainly nothing that could lead to a civil war, civility was the standard of the day.

Didn’t the “Communist Fear” start sooner than that though? like in the late forties, pre Korean War? I understand the fear idea, however, it is a powerful tool.

Well, I did put in the disclaimer “at times”

Really, it started with FDR. Even such a half-assed thing as the New Deal cut so deeply against the GOP’s biz-oriented paradigm that many in it started seeing him as a Communist or something near, and the attitude continued throughout the 1950s and 1960s until it finally became the party’s dominant attitude. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, by Rick Perlstein, is a very good source here.

There has always been partisanship, but there used to be room for collegialism and compromise. Tip O’Neil could work with Ronald Reagan. Even Clinton could work with Newt Gingrich. This whole thing of refusing to compromise n anything and threatening filibusters over any and all legilsation is completely new. Congressional Republicans are too afraid of their own base to even say good morning to Obama.

This is what I was going to say. I recall reading an article some time ago (I think in or about the time of the 2000 Bush v Gore election) that, throughout US history, in times when we have a common boogey man, divisive politics is less prevalent and the outcome of Presidential elections is more lopsided. When the common boogey man goes away, elections are more divisive and heated and the margin of victory in Presidential elections is narrower, generally speaking.

Well, that was playing to fear of outsiders and their agents in the U.S., not to specific hatred of other Americans.

Of course, I’d need to do some serious research to refine and support my hypothesis - right now it’s more of an off-the-cuff idea for a hypothesis.

Nixon also played a role in setting the stage for later partisan antipathy through his downfall in the Watergate scandal. Many Republicans were convinced that the Democrats and allies in the liberal media combined to “get” Nixon so, since the 70s they eagerly awaited the chance to get back at a Democratic president in the same way. They tried with Carter but they couldn’t convince anyone he was as devious as Tricky Dick and he was too ineffectual to last more than one term anyway. They almost succeeded with Clinton but he ended up slipping out of their grasp.

I’ve often thought that myself–especially after the 1994 election.

The big change is that nowadays the parties have realigned along ideological lines. Before the 60s, the Democratic party ruled the South. So the Democrats were a coalition of conservative segregationists, minorities, labor, and urban machines. Republicans were a coalition of various Northern interests, especially the middle class and industry, but they included both conservatives and classical liberals. Republicans were nonexistent south of the Mason-Dixon line.

So this meant that a conservative southern Democrat often had much more in common with a northern rock-ribbed Republican than they had with a northern Democrat. And so legislation was often “bipartisan” because both parties lacked national consensus. Party discipline was non-existent, and members of congress would vote according to the interests of their constituency back home.

Then along came civil rights, and white southerners abandoned the Democratic party, and shockingly joined the party of Abraham Lincoln and abolition, something that would have literally given heart attacks to their grandparents.

So now, instead of both parties being grab-bags of people with wildly different interests and ideologies, the Republicans became exclusively conservative and very southern, while with the loss of the southern conservatives the Democrats became exclusively liberal and very northern. And so we have the modern phenomenon of “red states” and “blue states”. In the past all those southern conservative “red states” nevertheless elected Democrats to congress, but no more.

And so the modern political parties began to mean something ideologically. It used to be that the parties were like sports teams, and you wanted your team to win because it was your team, but your team contained all kinds of people, some of whom you liked and other that you didn’t. And the opposing team was just the opposing team, and contained lots of people you liked and admired because they had a similar ideology to you, and even though there were other people you didn’t like, you couldn’t afford to get to nasty because you never knew when they’d turn around and support your issues.

Except now, with the realignment complete, you don’t get conservative southern Democrats supporting the conservative Republican president, because there aren’t any conservative southern Democrats anymore. You don’t get New England Liberal Republicans supporting the liberal Democratic president anymore, because there are no more liberal Republicans. And so we now have party discipline, and you support your party no matter what, because the other guys aren’t just the opposing team, they’re the enemy who want to destroy the country, and they’re all conveniently labeled for you with a D or an R.

In the 1780s.

Political Rhetoric nowadays is, on the whole, more civil than it has been in most of our history. Consider that the creation of a central bank had rioters in the street. That Monroe publishedpsuedonymous attacks on George Washington, and he was very far from alone. Lincoln was drawn as a monkey in cartoons. Jackson blamed the media’s attacks on him for his wife’s death. Roosevelt was called a communist routinely. Darn near every president dealt with rumors about mistresses or bastard children or immorality (granted, in some cases they were true). Nixon and Johnson were burned in effigy. And of course, the both the Burr-Hamilton duel and the beating of Charles Sumner were rooted in political differences.

By the standards of history, what we have now is very, very tame.

It started when you were first old enough to start noticing politics. Before that, politicians were friendly people who showed up at picnics and kissed babies.

I would say the advent of TV and the internet has made it easier for political strategist to polarize the masses, otherwise, same-ol’ same-ol’.

There are many factors that feed the vitriol, so consider this post as acknowledging it’s just one of many. Also, note that it’s somewhat narrow in scope time-wise. There are plenty of analogues and deeper roots than I can post in a quick minute.

I daresay that a sizable contribution to the current political climate stems from the forces that gave rise to Bob Grant in its infancy, Rush in its youth, and now the entirety of the self-reinforcing Right Wing Hyper-Pandering Media Machine (ranging from Fox to radio to publishing). Driven by market forces, where logic and rationality take second place to heated rhetoric and determining spin as a way to sell advertising to an ever-inflamed audience, the basic position of against X at all costs for the sake of being against X is a highly lucrative place to be. That it has found a niche in right-leaning folk is probably random, though if anti-elitism and anti-education is a strong undercurrent, it seems likely that warped logic is easier to pass off on an audience.

These market forces are self-perpetuating and cannot accommodate reasoned debate. It has to be us-versus-them or else passions decline along with viewership.

Again, this is one of many factors, and again, it’s not as if yellow journalism didn’t exist in the past. The scale, though, is horrifically different.

It’s truly unfortunate that there is some terribly important issues that are being debated at the top of people’s lungs. It’s wholly lamentable that the primary voices for the right are Bill, Rush, Beck and Coulter. They have subsumed conservative debate, and finding or articulating reasons for such right-associated planks as smaller government and market solutions to social problems is far too difficult.