One thing I learned during my time as the house liberal at ATC, is that anger seems to be a defining characteristic of many rightwingers today. They are almost always angry about something and their list of things they dislike and/or hate is long and extensive: Liberals; Democrats; Hollywood; Illegal Immigrants; Muslims (i.e. Islamofacists); enviromentalists; gays; atheists; criminals, poor people, etc.
I guess the reason I’m not a rightwinger is I have a hard time building up that kind of anger and sustaining it for any length of time. Somedays I get up and find that I’m really not that angry at anyone (which can hamper my blogging).
But rightwingers don’t seem to have this kind of difficulty. Not only are they clear on who or what they hate, but they are consistent with it. They won’t watch a movie if it has an actor or actress that they don’t like (and there are lots of those). They won’t listen to music if the singer has expressed an opinion they disagree with (ditto). They won’t read newspapers or watch TV shows that have expressed opinions in the past that they disagree with. They won’t send their kids to schools where they think they might be taught by people with opinions contrary to their own. They won’t shop at stores or eat at restaurants where they have found reason to be offended or upset.
Eventually, they can become very isolated and before long all their news of the world is being funneled to them through a very select group of heavily filtered outlets - talk radio; right-wing blogs; Fox News; Ann Coulter books...
This, of course, makes it very difficult to have any kind of fulfilling discussion with them since they deem any news sources outside of their little sphere (i.e. the MSM) as false, blasphemous and suspect.
I thought at one time that I could establish a dialogue by reaching out and presenting the other side with a real flesh and blood person whom they could interact with rather than just dealing all the time with caricatures spoon fed to them by rightwing manipulators and propagandists. But I think what I underestimated was this need that many on the right have for being angry all the time. No matter how I argued any point, whether aggressively or conciliatory, they always came back the next day more angry than before. Eventually, the whole framework collapsed and I found myself pitched out on my rear and banished from the site - my comments deleted.
So while I still hold out hope that there can be dialogue and productive debate between the two sides, I’m a little more cynical about how quickly this can happen.
But there are also some who believe that this intransigence is more of a political ploy than a natural condition. Digby calls it the The Art of the Hissy Fit
and notes how it has become a pattern for rightwingers to shift debate in their favor by throwing wall-eyed hissy-fits over nonsensical and trivial matters. I saw it happen a number of times at ATC where someone would raise a stink about something and then insist that all liberals must jump through a series of hoops to be cleansed or else be condemned and defamed in a sort of ritual humiliation. The hypocricy of these exercises was rank, but pointing this out only increased the other side’s anger, thus coming full circle.