Bloodthirsty rage appears to have swept up the American people, like mass hysteria boiling up in an angry mob. Discussions of deadly violence have become central to this presidential election season, with calls for killing in political ads and debates not just the ravings of a single fringe candidate. Gone are the intellectual arguments that have dominated our presidential debates for two centuries—this time it is the brain’s limbic system “fear center,” not the cerebral cortex, that candidates are tapping to drive public discourse. “Light the motherf*cker on fire!” a Trump supporter screamed at a protester who was being forcibly removed from a recent Trump rally. “Shoot him! Kick his ass!” raucous Trump supporters screamed at another demonstrator. The U.S. has faced frightening dangers during every election season. Why do we find ourselves in a panic this time?
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