To my mind, the most bothersome issue in American politics today is the absence of reason. When I was pursuing a master's degree (in international relations and political theory), one the first things I learned about international relations (but is extremely useful at the national level), is that political dialog is only possible when all parties involved are rational actors. "Rational Actors" is a fancy term that means the all parties are reasonable and act in accordance with an understood rationale. While you may not agree, you can at least understand their thinking process. Another condition for political dialog is that all parties will act in good faith. A participant in the dialog is expected to be true to their word and follow through on promises/agreements.
As I look at the political landscape today, I find that the leftists in the Democratic Party have abandoned the basic tenets of political dialog. These leftists are no longer "rational actors." The most damning proof of this statement is that accusation is now considered conclusive without the burden of proof. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the Bush Administration compared to Germany during the Nazi era. No one that I've heard of has ever given any proofs for this statement. The Nazi Party collected political adversaries and put them into the first concentration camps, banned art and literature that promotes values/viewpoints contrary to the sanctioned orthodoxy and, of course, the collection and extermination of Jews, gypsies, and other ethnic groups. Nowhere in the United States do you see any of these activities. And no leftist has given any example to bolster their assertions.
I was recently at dinner with my in-laws, when my mother-in-law made comments disparaging the Bush Administration for practically everything. When I asked for facts to back the assertions, none were given. In fact, I was accused of being a Bush advocate irrespective of the facts. She basically said that I would support Bush regardless of any facts to the contrary. This hurt me personally. I expressed my anger and disappointment by saying, "I can't believe you think so little of me." I have spent much of my adult life pursuing truth. Basing my conservatism on reason and being open to the truth above all opinions. Later, after dinner, my mother-in-law tried to apologize by saying "we intellectuals don't get mad when discussing politics." While I know she probably didn't mean it to come out that way, she basically implied that I was not among the "intellectuals" because of my reaction. I think the only reason I got this attempt at conciliation was because I was her son-in-law. I can understand where this comes from. It is a combination of that fact that my in-laws are traditional Democrats (who are Democrats before anything else) and they are university staff. I'm sure that political discussions among the "intellectuals" she referred to consisted of anti-conservative commentary followed by copious amounts of handshakes and nodding heads. But still, my basic point remains -- no evidence to back any assertions.
Probably the most egregious display of lack of rationality is the talk of Blue State secession. Democrats lose an election and they start talking of seceding from the union? Please! At least the South had a valid (but not acceptable) reason for seceding from the union in 1861 -- the link between slavery and the southern economy. But seceding because the Republicans gained control over the Presidency and Congress? Come on! The world is not ending. Get on with life. Work within the system.
The other reason I say the leftist Democrats are no longer "rational actors" is the "I have a plan" mentality of the Kerry Campaign. Throughout the campaign, and it has been well documented (I will provide example upon request), Senators Kerry and Edwards have made campaign promises to various constituent groups on both sides of a given issue. "I voted for the 87 billion...before I voted against it." The debate was filled with language which could be interpreted as leaning both ways on any given issue. You could not be assured that the leftist Democrats will follow through on any given campaign promise/agreement.
It is a sorry state of affairs. I wish we could turn back the clock at least 40-50 years in terms of the rationality of political debate. I don't agree with people like Jack or Bobby Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, or other 1950s-60s Democrats, but I could at least count on rational arguments being made.
My mother-in-law has recently exchanged e-mails with my wife. She is displaying some degree of remorse for the misunderstanding we had at dinner. But she still doesn't understand why I got mad. This only confirms my conclusion that words and argument have little meaning. My mother-in-law, like so many liberals today, will say things and have no understanding of the possible interpretations of their statements. Afterward, they question "why would you take offense at that?" Therefore, I try, as much as possible, not to speak without an understanding of the point I'm trying to get across. For this reason, I often can be quite verbose -- for clarity's sake. But there is a growing community of those who would rather be right (or believe they are right) than clear...or even understood.