Jonn Elledge of the New Statesman penned a humorous column about how 4-year-olds are not actually the little angels people seem to think they are but rather more like the Tories (the UK's answer to the GOP).
After explaining "Theory of Mind", the ability to understand the world from a perspective other than your own (an ability small children lack), Elledge lays out his case:
What kind of policy programme would someone without a Theory of Mind pursue if they were, catastrophically, elected to government? (Assume for this purpose that this is an adult politician, rather than an actual four year old.) Well, they would not worry about poverty, on the grounds that they had never been poor, so why would anyone else be so? They would gut public services, on the grounds that they never used them anyway. And they would cheerfully slash welfare on the grounds that they had never needed it, and so anyone who said that they did must be lying.
They would not care about renters’ rights, on the grounds that they were not a renter. But, being a landlord, they would worry intensely about the burden on landlords because that’s obviously a real problem, isn’t it? By the same token, as a boss, they would worry about the needs of bosses; but not being an employee, the needs of employees would be invisible to them. They would unselfconsciously see the world entirely from their own point of view, untroubled and unaware that other needs, desires or perspectives even exist.
If that sounds like your average Republican, you'd be right. Republicans are known for not caring about what happens to other people until it affects them.
This is why HIV was allowed to run rampant by Republicans until it started infecting heterosexual men and women. This is why drug addicts were wicked people deserving of life in prison when crack devastated black communities but now they're victims in need of our compassion when opioids are ravaging white communities. This is why black people on food stamps are lazy moochers that should have them taken away but don't you fucking touch my food stamps! I'm white and I earned them by being white!
This is why Republican voters hated Obamacare until Republicans tried to repeal it. Suddenly, white Republican voters realized it would adversely affect their health care, too. If there was a way to repeal Obamacare for black people only, Republican voters would be in favor of it by somewhere in the 90th percentile.
And that's the secret ingredient that makes Republicans worse than a four-year-old. Just like your darling little angel, they don't care about the suffering of others unless it happens to them or someone close to them. On their best day, they can extend that circle to people who look and act like them but they don't know personally.
The difference? While your bundle of joy may be selfish and narcissistic, they generally don't delight in the pain of others. White Republican voters do. It's one of the core motivations of their existence. More importantly, they need to be the one inflicting that pain because, collectively, they've gone insane.
They want cuts to food stamps and Medicaid and school lunches in order to inflict pain on Those People. It's only when they realize it will be taken away from them as well that they push back. White Republican voters love police brutality against black skin and will do anything to keep the police from held accountable. They say it's about "law and order" but never seem to want to hold rich white men to the rule of law.
The list can go one forever. The Muslim Ban, family separation, immigration crackdowns, defunding Planned Parenthood, breaking public education, etc. etc. etc. For white Republican voters, it's all about hurting people they hate because it's not enough to want more for themselves as small children do, they have to have it at the expense of others or it's not enough.
This compulsion to reduce life to a zero sum game is endemic to right-wing thinking. During the Obama administration, white Republican voters were furious with the direction of the country, insisting the economy was failing and everything was awful. Now, even though the economy is starting to stumble because of Trump's dangerously stupid foreign policy, they're convinced this is America's golden age. Taxes for the poor and middle class are about the same. Unemployment has not significantly improved. Wages aren't skyrocketing. The biggest difference? The government is waging an all-out war against brown skin.
It wasn't enough that the economy was slowly improving, Those People had to be punished in order for white Republican voters to be happy.
You can teach a four-year-old to hate. Sort of. Four-year-olds are also naturally self-centered and can be thoughtlessly cruel. But you can't teach them to enjoy that cruelty; it's just not a natural part of human development at that age. That combination of hate, narcissism, and joyful spite, however, is a fundamental part of the modern conservative movement. If it's not about them, they don't want to know about it unless they can use it to inflict pain and suffering on the people they despise.
This is who they are. This is who they've been for quite some time. They're not going to get "better." They're only going to get worse and the only way out of this nightmare is to crush them at the ballot box so completely that they can't inflict their insanity on us anymore.