One of the hallmarks of "movement conservative" opinion in recent years has been the growing tendency to treat itself not simply as a legitimate or "correct" point of view, or one that promotes policies good for the country, but as a cause that is synonymous with American self-interest, the Judeo-Christian tradition, and indeed, Western Civilization. This trend has naturally led to the depiction of its opponents as un-American, immoral and anti-religious, and, well, barbaric. Within the Christian Right, the need to demonize has become even more intense, in justification of the extraordinary step taken by religious leaders to adopt a "prophetic stance" against the wickedness of society and harness their pulpits and their flocks to the secular goals of the Republican Party.
From this point of view, "liberals" can't simply be wrong or ill-informed or open to persuasion. Those supporting a woman's right to choose must actually favor infanticide, euthanasia and human cloning. Advocates of a less militaristic foreign policy must be consciously aligned with America's enemies. "People for the American Way" favoring mild church-state separation rules must really aim at systemic descrimination against Christians. Proponents of marriage equality for gays and lesbians are actually bent on destroying the traditional family.
It is this frothing, ugly, disgusting sea of paranoia and lunatic-style hatred that right-wing hustlers like Sean Hannity (with his phony veterans charity), Ann Coulter (with her lying,vicious scribbling packaged as books), and Rush Limbaugh, with his Pravda-like radio program, exploit, feed, and get rich off of. I can tell you, however, that this right-wing filth has deep origins. Ever since Herbert Hoover practically called FDR a Bolshevik in 1932, the Right has been pulling this crap. Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon were spewing the same venom in the 1950s. The Goldwater campaign in 1964 brought these idiots out in force. (I particularly remember a lying piece of Right-wing vomit called None Dare Call It Treason from that year.) Beginning with Nixon's presidency in 1969, the Republicans embarked on a 40 year campaign to paint the Democrats as weak, hostile to religion, traitorous, cowardly, and unpatriotic. In truth, the Right has ALWAYS hated progressives, has ALWAYS called them traitors, has ALWAYS called them anti-American. What we are seeing now is simply the culmination of decades of vile Right-wing lies and hatred. The truth of the matter is startlingly simple:
It is American conservatism that is the cancer on this country. It is the conservatives who have been killing America. It is the conservatives who are the threat to America's future--not us.
Yes, the current insanity is particularly virulent, but it should not have been unexpected. You see, the Right wing has been engaged in a non-stop Hate Campaign for a long time. We shouldn't be surprised at the crude, ludicrous depths to which it has descended.
By the way, it you want a tragic but typical example of the searing damage this environment of Right-wing lies and fear has produced, check Eric Alterman's page here. It will make you sad--and it will open your eyes.