Editor’s CommeiitnFour years of mindless Reagan? Is this reallynwhat the great republic has wrought in thenfirst election of its third century?n— Professor Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.nin the Wall Street JournalnCountless words, phrases, sentences, invectives, insults,nsneers and epithets could be quoted, but, for some reason,nthis contumely from a learned, civilized, sophisticated deannof liberal sentiments struck me as the acme of viciousness.nMouths contorted with hatred, lips deformed by wrath,ntypewriters cracking under disjointed virulence, the proverbialnpens poisoned with venom, microphones bursting with acrimony—allnthese compose into a symphony of hatred. “InnAmerica,” recently wrote Michael Harrington, a prominentnman of the left, “there is a left based on hatred alone.” Henknows what he is talking about. And Ronald Reagan suddenlynrose to the role of a HoUywoodish St. Sebastian: he’s supposednto absorb this swarm of arrows dipped in malignitynand still flash that routine MGM or Paramount smile whichnwins elections. After all, he is an actor, which, of course, isnheld against him as the ultimate in mockery. But Mrs. HelennGahagan Douglas, who ran against Nixon in 1950, was alsonan actress. Today, her memory is the paradigm of saintliness:nshe was enough of a procommunist and archliberal to put hernprevious acting career into the category of irresistible charms.nAs we all know by now, there are politically proper actorsnand improper ones, and the latter are, of course, unsuitednfor public office in spite of all the adulation lavished on screennactors by this society for nearly a century—an idolatry which,nin the end, made an actor-president a natural and inevitablenconsequence. Actorship was never an argument against PaulnNewman’s or Jane Fonda’s political activities; the differencenbetween proper and improper is decreed by the media, innthe same way they designate proper and improper wealth.nWhy the Coors Brothers’ fortune, founded on brewing, isnreprobate while that of the Kennedys, founded on bootleggingnliquor, is godly remains one of the deepest mysteries ofnopinion-making in America.nAt would be incorrect to claim that American elections,nespecially presidential ones, are exercises in serenity andncamaraderie. They have always been suffused with passions,nintemperateness, vehemence, rabidity, zealousness, fury,nanger, outrage, opprobrium. And hatred. Yet the currentnpotential to unfurl hatred, and its present one-sidedness,nunilateralism, partisanship and despotism are of a novelnvariety. It all started with the disproportionate politicalnpower of the media during the Nixon years. Nixon was thenfirst to be excoriated, not for being an unacceptable politician,nbut for being the embodiment of evil. He was the mostnChronicles of Culturennnbeloved figment of liberal imagination—Satan, the devil,nLucifer incarnate. He was hated not so much for what he didnbut for who he was—a symbol of wrongness and badnessnthat needed no proof of its abjectness. Figures of demonologynrequire no attributable, tangible or verifiable misdeeds:ntheir mere potential for perniciousness is duly hated. ProfessornGalbraith once wrote that the Nixon years were actuallyna period of the largest possible freedom of the press,nunmatched in history. Yet the most repeated substantiationnof his Satanism was his suppression of freedom. In thenMiddle Ages, there was a widespread belief that childrennwere good when they feared the devil. Liberals are good ifnthey cross themselves and spit whenever Nixon’s name isnmentioned aloud.nLet’s face it: the press create witch hunts these days, andnthey do it in a fundamentally inchoate way, creating a massnof incongruities on which hatred thrives.nWhy is Mr. Reagan so hated? Why is what he is and whatnhe says so unpardonable.^ Despite all the shrillness of symbols,nimages, superficial denominations and platitudinousnprojections—the fight against him is of supreme momentousness.nDespite all his simplicity and less-than-middlebrownpredilections, despite the plastic and mass-packaged deliverynof his commonsensical prescriptions—he somehow hit thenvery core of the contemporary political dilemma. And he didnit with authentic correctness, intuitive rationality and convincingnintegrity which turned his opponents into implacablenenemies, overcome by blind rage.nJL here are two powerful traditions in the American politicalnhistory—one is the politics of argumentation asnmoral principle and the other is the politics of the threenC’s—compromise, concession and consensus—as moralnprinciple. They have crisscrossed American reality for twoncenturies now, often in a disorderly manner, popping up atnrandom in political people and political situations. ThenDemocratic Party has long been a party of compromise,nconsensus and concession: Southern planters and Jewishnlabor organizers had to learn to live together in order tonwin elections. The Republican Party, once the progeny ofnmoral argument, has moved during the last 30 years towardnthe politics of concession and compromise, known in politicalnlingo as “broadening the party’s base.” However, deeperndifferentiations emerge: since World War II, American societynseems to be divided more and more along the lines ofneither consensus or argumentation cum principle—andneverything boils down to defining the principle which keepsnthe two parties apart. This is an ideological contention, andnthose who refuse to see it that way will sooner or laternbe rejected. The triumph of ideology over pragmatism andncompromise is a historical inevitability, and Ronald Reagan,npopularizer that he is, senses it. There’s nothing for then