Current Events

Addicted to Outrage

Was it a threat? That’s what we’re asking this morning in the wake of yesterday’s rally in North Carolina where Donald Trump coyly danced around the possibility that “Second Amendment people” could stop a Clinton presidency.

Trump’s campaign says he was joking. Clinton’s campaign – and a significant portion of the mainstream media – isn’t buying it. Either way, in a country where nearly 12,000 people lose their lives to gun violence every year, it’s dangerous rhetoric.

I’m not writing to you to denounce candidate Trump. I’m writing because I think it’s worth looking at how we got to this point.

And it’s been a rapid decline people.

In 2008, when John McCain was running against Barack Obama, he attended a town hall where a woman stood up and said she didn’t trust Obama because he was “an Arab.”

“No ma’am,” McCain responded. “He’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that’s what this campaign is all about.”

You can watch that 30-second exchange here.

It’s hard to imagine this level of civility occurring today – which is exactly why we need to reclaim it.

The populist anger that rose to a level where we are seriously questioning whether a candidate for President of the United States just called for the assassination of his opponent did not emerge from nowhere.

We have, it appears, developed a collective addiction to outrage.

Maybe this comes from the media (both traditional and new) who take great pains to write the most scurrilous headlines possible in pursuit of clicks.

Maybe it comes from social media where we can’t wait to share these headlines and incite ALL CAPS COMMENTS FROM FRUSTRATED FRIENDS!!

Maybe it comes from Tea Party rallies dating back to 2009 and chants like “lock her up” today.

I suspect it’s a combination of all of the above and more. Every heated comment and conversation pours a little more gasoline on the fire until outrage becomes our new normal.

Are we there already?

It’s a good question to ask ourselves because history is indeed watching.