This video by Penn Jillette has got my brain working a bit. In it he tackles the demonization of the Bush and the right wing by many on the left.
Many … seem to have this feeling, if you boil it all down, that Bush and McCain and Palin agree with the Democrats 100% on everything, and are then doing the opposite. They do not agree that there is a disagreement. They do not believe that Bush is a person who is trying to do the best he can do, who is wrong. He’s wrong about God, he’s wrong about war, he’s wrong about the economy, he’s wrong about who to trust, he’s wrong about just about everything, but he is wrong, he is not evil, he is not malicious.
(emphasis mine based on tone of voice)
Penn dubs this trend “hate”. I think it is simply intellectual laziness. Partisans on both sides refuse to admit that the other side has a right to hold opposing views and refuse to consider what would lead the other to form those positions. Liberals tend to assume it is pure ignorance, conservatives tend to think it is naiveté. It’s easy to believe this, and it displays a lack of empathy, a dehumanization of the other side. The faceless spectre of the red godless communist is not much different than the stereotype of the ignorant red-state yokel, or the money-grubbing CEO, or the corrupt politician. All of these characters actually do exist but they are the vast minority. All leftists aren’t trying to overthrow the government, all politicians are not evil.
I think that Bush actually believes what he says. That doesn’t make me want him as my president, but it doesn’t make him a devious evil mastermind. I also think he should be held accountable for going to war without proper cause. But he didn’t start a war because he likes killing people, he started a war because he thought it was the right thing to do.
doesn’t advance the debate, it hinders it.