I hope that none of my readers are under the illusion that Clinton’s partisans were primarily motivated by love, except in the sense of Clinton’s love for power and the Democrats’ love for the privileges and payouts they could expect from four more years of control of the White House; and of course Trump and the Republicans were head over heels in love with the same things.
The fact that Clinton’s marketing flacks and focus groups thought that the slogan just quoted would have an impact on the election, though, shows just how pervasive the assumption I’m discussing has become in our culture.
Here again, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that people a century and a quarter ago—most likely including your ancestors, dear reader, if they happened to live in the English-speaking world—saw things the other way around.
To them, hate was an ordinary emotion that most people had under certain circumstances, but sexual desire was beyond the pale: beastly, horrid, filthy, and so on through an impressive litany of unpleasant adjectives.
Back in the Victorian era, the privileged classes defined themselves as the Good People, the moral, virtuous, pure people, which in the language of the time meant the people who didn’t have sexual desires.
They accordingly defined their social inferiors as beastly, horrid, filthy—that is to say, sexual beings.
That’s what emerged in Victorian society once people convinced themselves that sexual desire was the root of all evil, and it’s what has emerged in our time as people have convinced themselves that hate fills the same role.Back in January of 2016, when I first predicted Trump’s victory, I pointed out that if you wanted to hear really over-the-top hate speech, all you had to do was listen to a group of comfortably well-to-do Americans in the bicoastal urban bubble talk about white working class Americans in the flyover states. Take the rhetoric currently being flung by well-off Democratic voters at Trump supporters, swap out the ethnic labels for any other set you choose, and you’ll have a hard time telling it apart from the rantings of any other group of bigots.The class dimension of all this rhetoric about hate, by the way, is one of the most telling things about it.Some pursued any of the other dodges, and there were plenty of them, that allowed people to pretend that they weren’t getting sexually aroused and acting on their arousal when, in fact, that’s what they were doing.That’s what happens whenever people decide that an ordinary human emotion is unacceptable and insist that good people don’t experience it.