For instance, all this uproar about Sonia Sotomayor. Most polls I have seen show that about 70% of the general public approve of the president choosing her for the Supreme Court. And when I go on the political ticker blog on CNN.com or Yahoo Buzz about political stories there is this huge, loud vociferous protest in the comments. And it's disproportionate; the 30% disapproval translates into at least a 50% percent negative amount of comments on CNN. And let me tell you, Yahoo Buzz is overwhelmingly owned by the far right.
So I was thinking to myself, why is this? Here is my theory:
Conservatives have an almost pathological need to prove that their views are right; to prove to EVERYONE that they are right and anyone whose opinions vary from theirs in unequivocally wrong. And it's not just an ego thing, they're zealous about it. Now, I chose the word "zealous" very deliberately. It's almost religious and evangelical; like they are on fire to go out and tell anyone who is willing to listen about their views. They digest the talking points about different issues and repeat them as if they were gospel:
- Sotomayor will not be true to the Constitution because her empathy will cause to make rulings based on her feelings instead of the law
- She's a reverse-racist because of the quote where she says, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
- She's a liberal activist because she said that policy is made in the court of appeals.
Not to say that liberal politicians don't do the same thing; I would be remiss to say that it doesn't happen on both sides. It most certainly does. The difference is that the conservative "base" absorbs these distortions and disseminates them until they becomes pervasive. There are hard-core liberals who also do this, but not on the scale that conservatives do.
So, these distorted facts are accepted as actual facts. Those who disagree with these "facts" are more often than not painted as un-patriotic, socialist, immoral, etc. Even people within their own political party are suspect if their views do not fall into this narrow framework. They call them RINOs: Republicans In Name Only. ...I've never heard anyone ever referred to as a Liberal in name only.
This tactic was brought into their playbook and perfected by Ronald Reagan, the conservatives' messianic figure. For Reagan there was little to no gray area on subjects: right/wrong, moral/immoral, patriotic/traitorous. He spoke plainly and ground the issues down to their most basic essence and painted his views as right and patriotic; those who held an opposing view were wrong and at the very least, less than patriotic. It still echoes through the GOP platform to this day.
This has escalated over the last eight years to the point where the ultra neo-conservative movement really cannot sustain itself any longer. Republicans have fallen out of favor with the American people over the mishandling of the economy, the destruction of the environment, the bloating of the government on their watch, the nearly-botched war in Iraq, torture, etc, ad infinatum... If they had been more inclusive and governed from the center and with less arrogance, they would have led our country down a much better path. But they continue to disavow and belittle moderates within their party and as they do so they will have less and less appeal to the average American. It is going to be a long time before the reins of the party are wrested from their hands. The moderate wing of the party has to become much more vocal and find their own charismatic leaders who are able to drown out and eventually cancel the noise emanating from the far right end of the political spectrum.
Until then, we liberals will take care of the country for you...