We’ve become a nation of Absolutists. And in an ideology of Absolutism, “libtard” and “repug” are as good as the discourse can get. This is because Absolutism breeds fear. When any compromise, any potential change, any possible give and take means the end of the worldview itself, there can be no other outcome but division, hatred, and entrenchment. There can be no discussion when Fear is an Identity.
We’re all angry. Conservatives are angry because they believe that their values and traditions are being blamed (rightly or wrongly) for society’s ills. Which, in reversal, leads to an argument for the reinstatement of those values as a social panacea. Liberals are angry because the suffering of our fellow man is going unanswered and they’ve been told, again and again, that this suffering is both virtuous and unsolvable.
None of this is, of course, specifically true. Many of these values are shared across considerable lines and few, if any, American traditions belong specifically to one group or another, despite what they might claim. This doesn’t mean that these values don’t need to be re-thought and re-examined however. Struck down if necessary. Held up if passed muster. And there is nothing particularly virtuous about suffering and it is not, nor has it ever been, unsolvable.
Conservatives are angry because they believe that the removal of their values from societal dominance will lead to the downfall of American culture itself. Liberals and progressives see the need for cultural change but are frustrated by the perception that they must utterly dismantle any number of viewpoints just for the chance to make a millimeter of headway.
This is Absolutism. Crowds of people mowed down by bullets in a matter of seconds as an acceptable price for unrestricted gun access is Absolutism. Abortion is murder is Absolutism. Blanket immigration and travel bans are Absolutism. Death for the “crime” of running away, or selling loose cigarettes, or driving in a car while black is Absolutism. Absolutism gives no quarter, takes no prisoners, and asks no questions.
We are a nation of Absolutists. And for this reason, nothing moves forward. No discussion can be had. No change can be made. All we have is the same circular back and forth, over and over again in the hallowed halls of respectable echo chambers, about how “liberals” don’t get it and “conservatives” are cruel.
But in the end, suffering will need to be answered for and when that happens the Absolutist will lose the most.