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Here’s a story for you. My mother grew up in a Republican family.1 When Herbert Hoover was on the radio, everyone listened. But later she became a Democrat. What happened?

Well, she went off to college. But not some bleeding heart lefty bastion. She went to USC, which was even more Republican in 1950 than it is now. She didn’t get indoctrinated by a bunch of fuzzy liberal professors.

So what caused the switch? I asked her once, and she said that during her college years she came to the conclusion that Republicans were just mean. So she became a Democrat.

This struck me because I’ve long used the exact same word in the privacy of my own thoughts. I can write a sophisticated critique of conservative ideology as well as the next guy, but the truth is that it mostly boils down to a gut feel that Republicans are mean. I’ve never said this out loud because it sounds so kindergarten-y, but there it is. I think Republicans are mean, just like my mother did.

But now our time has come. Donald Trump started it, with his contention that Paul Ryan’s health care bill was “mean.” Today, Barack Obama picked up the ball, writing on Facebook about the “fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.” And then Chuck Schumer weighed in with a big red poster calling the Senate health care bill “meaner.”

So that’s that. It’s now OK to ditch the ten-dollar words and just spit it out. Republicans are mean.2

1I’ve never figured out what the deal was here. My grandfather was very much a working-class guy, an electrician for Western Union. But he hated FDR. I don’t know why.

2The weird thing about this is that I live in Orange County and I know lots of conservatives. For the most part, they aren’t mean. But put ’em together in a single political party, and it’s all torches and pitchforks.

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