In the past year and a half I have detected a level of mean spiritedness around me that has no parallels in my 60+ years of memory.
The mean spiritedness grew as the social recollection of the Twin Tower Jihad Murder receded and the anti-war activitists came out of the closet in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I think the proximate cause of the current wave of insufferable mean spiritedness is the computer. The computer is indirectly to blame because the personal computer made possible the individual gerrymandering that all legislative office holders promptly seized to enshrine themselves.
The direct cause of American political mean spiritedness is: the personally-designed, gerrymandered districts that allow political extremists to get elected and remain in office. The elected political extremists feed the extreme positions of their followers.
The politics of gerrymandering creates mean spiritedness in the elected officials who in turn feed the mean spiritedness of their constiutuency.