“He’s not Brown. Other than Obama, I think [Brown’s] one of the most evil people I’ve ever seen.”
That’s all I could think when I read this quote from Steven Phipps, a 57-year-old maintenance worker in Bakersfield, explaining why he was voting for Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate, and not the Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown, in the race for California Governor in last week’s election. Phipps was taking part in a poll conducted by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times shortly before the election. Brown won an unprecedented fourth term and bucked a pro-Republican national trend, winning by 17.4 percentage points over the (literally) unknown upstart.
What I want to know is what makes President Obama and Governor Brown “evil.” Is it because they want to help out poor people? Make sure everyone has health insurance? Make it easier and safer, as in getting driver license and having access to medical care, for undocumented people from other countries to live here? Is it because they think that concerns about the environment and global warming and safety are worth putting some curbs on business and making money?
Really. What do people like Phipps mean when they say “evil?” Is it evil, really, when people are given something without working and sweating for it? Is getting something for nothing so bad – even when it would make life easier for many of those who loudly say this – that it’s evil? Is this really something worthy of the devil?
The bigger question, though, is this: If people see others as evil, how can they work with them to get anything done? How can they negotiate and compromise with those they see as not only not worthy but not human?
We see this continuing impasse and gridlock already when, despite talk of a “Burbon Summit,” Mitch McConnell, the expected leader of the newly Republican-dominated Senate who once famously said that his party’s top priority should be to make Obama a “one-term president” and saddle him with “an inventory of losses, stated that Obama’s promise to take action on immigration was “like waving a red flag flag in front of a bull.” He has also said that such a move would “poison the well” for any compromises between the president and the congress in the next two years.
As if the well wasn’t already poisoned.