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.
I never thought our limited welfare programs were a threat to our free enterprise system and regarded those "conservatives" who thought that way as extremists. As a working class man from a union family, I thought those "conservatives" who hated unions were both extremists and willing tools of international corporations.
Over the past ten years, these extremist positions have so taken over the conservative movement that I can no longer call myself or them "conservative." The reasonable conservatism of the 1960-1980's has largely died.
I call their successors "rightists", "The Right Wing", "corporate clowns" or "neo-fascists." I do not like using labels to define my diverse policy positions but most others would consider me to be either a "realist" (because I believe in fact based policy where results matter), "a traditionalist (because my ideological views are largely based on the Founding Fathers, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Christianity) or a "progressive" (because I believe in our American tradition of growing social progress, democracy and equality).
Unfortunately, as the Far Right captured the conservative movement with corporate financial help, the tactics the extremists used to con the ignorant, fearful, angry and greedy among our citizenry into supporting political and economic policies that really only favored the powerful elite became typical standard operating procedures of the Right.
The Right in American politics does not have any specific policies will improve the lives of most Americans. In fact, they stand in harsh opposition to any policies that would help the majority of Americans. They preach that our government is our enemy when the very core of the American idea of government is that we are the government.
We need a strong government run by us to hold international corporate power in check and to protect our standard of living from these international predators. The Right wants a weak national government when it comes to restraining corporate power but a strong one under corporate control when it comes to citizens' demands for better wages, more jobs, decent healthcare, quality and affordable education and real economic mobility. They do not want a government that pursues energy, military or trade policies that protect our national interests instead of the interests of international corporations.
The Right has nothing to offer voters, in order to achieve political power, except fear and smears. It is little wonder that voter suppression is such a key element is their campaign tactics. The economic elite and corporate forces will dump tons of money into the bank accounts of people like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh because they use the kind of extremist language, violent rhetoric and demonizing tactics that serve to promote the "corporatist" economic and political agenda.
These same "corporatist" forces are funding the Republican Party. They are buying up the media and rigging the rules of the economy against the vast majority of Americans.