Sunday, October 2, 2011

Demise of discourse on the right at dangerous levels

Conservatives should reject extremism within their ranks

A crowd boos at a gay military service member that supports the recent repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." A man heckles the president, deriding him as the Antichrist, as he interrupts a scheduled POTUS appearance. Another crowd cheers enthusiastically when a GOP candidate suggests a hypothetical man in a coma who lacks insurance should be left to die because he has to live with his choices.

Is this the new base of the Republican Party?

These observations (and others like them) are important because they step away from the politicians for a moment and focus instead on the people who support them. This isn't to say that every Republican -- candidate or constituent -- acts in this manner. Indeed, I'd be willing to concede just the opposite holds true, that most Republicans or conservatives are level-head individuals willing to talk things out. But a growing trend among the most ardent of supporters on the right is the embracing of a more extreme tone of sentiment. These hard-right "warriors" are taking charge of their party, pushing aside level-headed alternatives for extremist attitudes and initiatives.

Like a football fan screaming "interference!" at the television screen on every down, conservative extremists, too, exhibit a fervor that's inexplicable, yet at times violently passionate. Any questioning of their character or policy positions is seen not only as too critical of their ideas but also as an attack on them personally, one that must be responded to in kind. Their defense mechanism is a rebuttal of rage, laden with claims that are easily thought up of on the spot without much care given towards factual evidence, personal bias, or integrity for that matter.

This isn't to say that liberalism doesn't have this element to it as well. Extremists exist on both sides of the political spectrum, and to ignore this fact would be comparable to the actions of those I'm trying to condemn. However, it's clear even to the most objective of observers that the extremists on the left aren't driving the policy of liberals in positions of power today -- that is, their influence on those "representing" them is hardly noticeable.

The same cannot be claimed on the right, where Republican candidates seem to be rushing towards supporting the lowest common denominator of conservative extremism, who are fast determining who is viable within their field of presidential candidates.

This mentality needs to be rejected, not embraced, by the right. I say this not as a liberal who'd obviously like to see my positions prevail over "theirs," but as a concerned citizen who is witnessing a breakdown of discourse in our society. The marketplace of ideas is one of America's greatest assets. When it falters, when one side determines it's "do-or-die" on many of the issues it supports, our country suffers for it, and compromise of any kind cannot be reached.

We must fight, ironically, for the preservation of proper argument in this country. It's a fight well-worth having, one that will benefit both liberals AND conservatives who are willing to engage in meaningful debate.

1 comment:

  1. One cannot even have a normal debate with somebody on the extreme right as they hear only what they want hear. They are spreading a hatred rhetoric never seen before in the USA. It all stems from a selfish self appointed better-than-thou few that, like a child, will continue to scream until given their way or disciplined.