Throughout my life, I have enjoyed some wonderful friendships with people on the opposite side of the political aisle. With some, our conversations never turn to politics. We focus instead on the passions we share and the activities we enjoy. With others, we discuss politics, always striving to appreciate the sincerity of each other’s convictions. Each knows that the other does not promote the ideas that he does, adhere to the ideology to which he subscribes or belong to the party which he has joined (or otherwise supports) out of dark and/or dastardly motives, but because he truly believes those ideas will best promote the general welfare.
Yet, there are some, on both sides of the political aisle and in the current debate, overwhelmingly on one side, with whom you can’t have a conversation. They doubt the very sincerity of their opponents’ motives, believing they hold their convictions not because of a concern for general well-being of society and the individual freedom of men and women of all stripes, but because they want to put down men and (especially) women of a certain stripe (or stripes).
If someone opposes the policies they support, then that person is not just wrong, he’s racist too, misogynist, anti-gay and, well, a just plain evil-mongering dunce.
No wonder some gay people can’t relate to the conservatives in their midst. Their prejudices against conservatives are so strong that they can’t imagine we came to our conclusions through a rational thought process. They believe all conservatives seek to preserve a status quo advantageous to straight white men and, as that “quo” loses its “status,” think we want to return to those days when segregation was the rule and homosexuality was neither discussed nor tolerated.
But, the world has changed since such liberals fixed their views.
Yet, you wouldn’t know it from listening to the Senate Majority Leader or the junior Senator from California. Or from the junior Senator from the Ocean State. Sheldon Whitehouse has now joined a growing chorus of Democratic elected officials and liberal pundits comparing opponents of health care reform to Nazis and lynch mobs. In what one liberal pundit called “an overwrought jeremiad,” the Democrat from Rhode Island fumed:
Too many colleagues are embarked on a desperate, no-holds-barred mission of propaganda, obstruction and fear. . . . History cautions us of the excesses to which these malignant, vindictive passions can ultimately lead. Tumbrils have rolled through taunting crowds. Broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from southern trees.
He promised a “day of judgment” and a “day of reckoning” for Republicans. Wow, just wow. If a Republican Senator had leveled such accusations against opponents of conservative reforms, the story would lead the news. There would be calls for his apology and resignation. In this case, the New York Times ignored the comments while relaying Democratic talking points about Republican nastiness.
The sad thing is is that Whitehouse may well believe this. Certainly, his staffer who crafted this harbors a deep-seated animus against Republicans and other principled opponents of big government. And yet such prejudice is not defined as such, but seen, in the blue enclaves in our nation’s coastal regions, as a mark of refinement.
Why are these people so intolerant of ideas at odds with their own? Why do their have such hatred for their ideological adversaries?