The shootings in Arizona should be producing a crisis of conscience on the political Right in this nation. However, I am not sure we are going to see that result.
Extreme language, violent rhetoric and demonizing opponents have been very successful tactics in the quest for political and economic power for the Right Wing of American politics. They have institutionalized these tactics in many ways like the creation of Fox News, a huge array of Right Wing talk shows and print publications along with billionaire funded think tanks and various front groups including most of the Tea Party movement.
These tactics have taken over the entire operations of what was once the conservative movement. Today, the most extreme voices have largely drowned out the moderate conservatives that once dominated the conservative movement and the Republican Party.
As recently as ten years ago, I could still consider myself fairly mainstream member of this moderate conservative tradition because I supported certain policy positions although I was a mainstream Democrat. Back then, the inmates were not yet completely running the asylum.
I believe in gun rights with reasonable regulations to ensure safety and that keep guns out of hands of criminals and insane people. I believe in a strong military that would be used for defense but would never attack first or commit war crimes.
I strongly support protecting the Bill of Rights and civil liberties and wanted our government restrained from the horrors of dictatorships which imprisoned people without trials and tortured citizens. I supported a free market system with strong protections against the abuses of monopolies exploiting consumers and workers.
I worried about technology transfers to foreign nations because they would undermine our long-term military capacity and our governments financial stability while creating national security threats from other nations with growing military-industrial abilities and expanded international ambitions. I wanted to preserve our strong middle class because it strengthened our American democracy and helped create a domestic peace because everyone had a stake in our society that included real opportunities for economic advancement.
These were all widely accepted conservative values before George W. Bush. The Far Right had them in their sites but had not successfully tried to exterminate them from the conservative mainstream.