Bill O’Reilly had good advice for viewers of his internet news and commentary program last week. He said not to “internalize” the pitched battle occurring in the nation’s capital. This is common knowledge for people with a grasp of what constitutes mental health, but with political tumult roiling the landscape, a refresher message about psychological balance is timely.
For the majority, those not particularly invested in political outcomes, who watch from a perimeter of consciousness and then vote based on what they’ve peripherally absorbed, it’s easy to disconnect. D.C.’s horrible cluster of accusation and attack never meaningfully penetrates the mantle of self-perception and worth on which their sense of well-being is centered.
People on the edge, who’ve internalized the battle, might be coping with mental health issues regardless of national power struggles. The politically-motivated “lawfare” being waged against Donald Trump and the drip of corruption allegations unearthed by the GOP House against Joe Biden stand as exhibits A and B, but there’s no shortage of disagreements over issues—abortion, transgender activism, rampant big-city crime and incarceration policy, and parental involvement in education—that have the potential to cause people to lose control.
On the right, there’re death threats against the Fulton County grand jury, and a man shot dead by the FBI in his home over online threats he made against Joe Biden. Unhinged violence on the left against the right is so ubiquitous as to be considered commonplace in American politics.
Exacerbating this cauldron of animosity is an undeniable double-standard in media and culture against right-of-center and traditionalist ideology. This can leave marginally-stable conservatives acting on feelings of hopelessness. A person who internalizes political strife can harbor and potentially act upon an abiding conviction that there’s no way of getting a fair shake for their views or candidates. The unavoidable sense that Democrats are doing exactly what they accuse Republicans and MAGA nation of doing and getting away with it adds to the desperation of those who are unsuccessful at differentiating between their personal lives and what’s going on in the larger society.
Meanwhile, instances of derangement on the left are routinely explained away and exculpated in the media narrative. When Majority Leader Chuck Schumer got on a soapbox and vowed that Republicans would “reap the whirlwind” after the Brett Kavanaugh vote, it was painted by corporate media as a courageous rallying cry, not a threat. When a MAGA supporter sees the latest indictment, he or she knows in his heart that Democrats and the so-called Deep State will do anything to stop Trump from winning a second term. They must guard against internalizing what’s happening, despite Trump’s effective rhetoric that proclaims, “They’re coming after me, but make no mistake, they’re coming after you. I’m just standing in the way.”
I hesitate to inhabit the mindset of the contemporary left, but it’s easy to see what unhinges them—the potential of a second Trump term. Should that happen, I can only guess what new levels of derangement will occur.