In yesterday’s thread on Limbaugh’s epiphany, commenter “DNW” asks some interesting questions:
I’m curious as to how many continue to believe the old saw that conservatives and libertarians on the one hand, and modern liberals on the other, “at base” and when left to their own devices, really want the same things out of life? How many continue to believe that they interpret reality, and experience meaning, and find their satisfactions in much the same ways; differing only as to the recommended mechanics involved in most effectively getting the maximum number of their fellows there?
I think that at least some of the confusion on the right comes from the perception of “modern liberals” as a unitary group versus a mix of fairly disparate ones. Those who believe it is a unitary group are, in my opinion, conflating two things: the rank-and-file, not-especially-politically-aware-or-informed liberals who regularly vote Democrat but who are not especially consumed with politics; and the committed leftists who rarely label themselves as such and instead call themselves “liberal” or “progressive,” but who are extremely aware and committed and well-informed about alternative history, PC thought, tactics, and strategy. The former (and larger) group is merely following the latter one, which sets the agenda, calls the shots, and manages the propaganda.
It is the former who fit the description of “basically wanting the same things out of life” as conservatives. It is the former who might switch their thinking if given enough information and time (and if they were interested enough to really pay attention to the right as opposed to paying attention to what the left says about the right).
I know that many people, including some in the comments section of this blog, disagree with the characterization I have just offered and say that everyone left of center, liberals and leftists alike, politically aware and active or not, are either (take your pick of descriptions) evil or at least very fundamentally different from those on the right. I think they are different, but that difference lies in the information they get and where they get it, and in some cases the ways in which they process and understand information. I most especially do not think they are evil, although unfortunately they may end up helping the triumph of evil.
I believe I know that about them because I not only know these people very very well, I basically used to be one of them in many, although not all, ways (I always was a critical thinker, for example—as are a certain small percentage of the liberals I know today). What changed is that I became more interested in politics and in learning in more detail about what’s happening in the world and I immersed myself in that, including an exposure to the arguments of the right. As a result I encountered new sources of information to round out my knowledge base, and ended up setting foot on a path that changed my political affiliation, although not my basic self.
I think that DNW—and others on the right with the even more extreme point of view that all liberals are evil—are motivated at least in part by their sense of outrage at Republicans’ and conservatives’ often wishy-washy reactions in the face of those leftists who are out to destroy the US and what makes it great and distinctive. So they want those “can’t we just all get along?” Republicans to realize how utterly serious this battle is, and how late the hour. And so, in their justified rage at the leftists, they are acting as though the leaders and those who do their bidding without much understanding or knowledge of what they’re up to are identical in terms knowledge and motivation.
I think it’s a distinction that matters, become some liberals can be reached (hey, even some leftists can be reached, as evinced by the life story of someone like David Horowitz, although that’s quite rare). We need to figure out how to reach those people, not to demonize them.