This is a comment I encountered recently during the whole debt ceiling debacle and the Oslo attacks. The commenter was responding to recent articles by David Brooks (a conservative, though more of a “classical” variety than “neocon”) and Canadian conservative blogger David Frum, both of which argued that “liberals” and “progressives” have legitimate reasons for thinking the way they do, however misguided or idealistic they may seem. These articles were (wisely, I think) pointing out what is being pointed out more and more nowadays–those that disagree with us are not our moral enemies. But unfortunately, many–especially many Tea Party folks–have turned politics into an almost religious crusade to bring about some absolute “moral” transformation that cannot be done in step-wise or considerate fashion while working with those that disagree with us. It must be total; it must be complete; it must be now; and damned be anyone that thinks otherwise. And one more point before we go on: as far as political theory goes, I’m probably a little closer to the ideas of a Tea Partier than a Progressive, so this has nothing to do with what this commenter thinks politically, but rather what they think of those that disagree with them on (of all things) politics.
Below are relevant excerpts and links to the articles in question, followed by the comment. Please discuss.
From David Brooks:
All of these [particular Republicans] share the same mentality. They do not see politics as the art of the possible. They do not believe in seizing opportunities to make steady, messy progress toward conservative goals. They believe that politics is a cataclysmic struggle. They believe that if they can remain pure in their faith then someday their party will win a total and permanent victory over its foes. They believe they are Gods of the New Dawn.
from David Frum:
The US had also had its debates about rhetoric, not least after the Tucson shootings in January. There is, of course, an enormous difference between hyperbolic talk of “don’t retreat, reload”, and a discourse and worldview where people are seen as actual traitors, actual invaders, causing an actual civil war. Disturbingly, however, growing fringes on the American right seem to be starting to see political opponents as actual, rather than political, enemies, increasingly approaching politics as an epic game between good and evil rather as a process designed to make legitimate policy choices. It is not always easy to distinguish between what is mere rhetoric, and what is fanatical political conviction.
From the commenter:
Putting Frum aside for a moment, tell me something [speaking of Obama, I assume]: How do you compromise with a murderer? How do you compromise with a dictator? How do you compromise with someone who enslaves?
I do not think of misguided voters as my enemy, I clearly do think of progressive politicians as enemies to the traditional American way of life. I see them as my enemy. “Progressive,” in my mind, means they are progressively taking away American liberties, bit by bit, and enslaving the populace to the government plantation. There is no compromising with evil. You can only defeat it. Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Dodd, Frank, and even some Republicans are willing participants in evil. And I don’t really care if that “disturbs” David Frum or you or anyone else.
What do you do? What do you say? How do you connect with and try and change the mind of someone thinking in this way?