The Universal Notebook: A right-left primer for 2012

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If you have followed the Republican presidential primary debates, the congressional budget debacles, the war of words waged nightly between Fox News and MSNBC, the editorials in local, state, and national publications, the letters to the editor and online comments engendered by local newspaper reports, the demonstrations pro and con on President Obama’s progressive agenda for the United States and Gov. LePage’s conservative agenda for Maine, and the warring partisan websites from which tea party conservatives and Occupy Wall Street progressives get their self-affirming information, you know all too well that America is polarized to the point of national paralysis.

Here’s what conservatives think of liberals:

Liberals are people ruled by emotions. They are tender-hearted, warm and fuzzy people who can’t stand to see anyone suffer. They think large state and federal governments are the only way to relieve suffering. In order to enable the state to care for all the people, liberals support high, confiscatory taxes and what amounts to a socialist society, a nanny state in which housing, health care, education, employment, and food are all supplied by the government.

Liberals detest free-market capitalism, because competition guarantees that some people will be winners and others will be losers. They believe that profits are evil because they exploit workers and reward owners. Liberals blame the wealthy for the current economic crisis, but what they refuse to understand is that wealthy, successful people are job creators. Liberals are tree-huggers who value owls and newts over economic prosperity. If they had their way, guns and hunting would be outlawed.

Liberals have created a welfare state that has destroyed individual incentive and turned generations of poor people and illegal aliens into wards of the state guilty of rampant welfare fraud. They bus immigrants, poor people, and students to the polls in a campaign of voter fraud designed to maintain their grip on power.

Liberals are hypocrites. They hate America. They are essentially unpatriotic communists.

Here’s what liberals think of conservatives:

Conservatives are people ruled by prejudice. They are basically racists trying to drag America back into a past they liked and understood. They are hard-hearted, cold, selfish people who don’t care what happens to anyone else as long as they are comfortable. They think both the state and federal governments are the enemy. If they had their way, there would be no public health, public education, public housing, public employment, or public assistance. People would just have to take care of themselves.

Conservatives love free-market capitalism, because they mistakenly confuse economic success with human value. Conservatives blame the poor for the current economic crisis, but what they refuse to understand is that wealthy, powerful people are actually to blame. They do not create jobs, they just create generational wealth for themselves. Conservatives are eco-terrorists who would cut down and kill every living thing in nature if it meant personal profit. They are all antisocial gun nuts prone to violence.

Conservatives would create a police state ruled by rich, powerful individuals and corporations. They would impose the death penalty for all manner of crimes, build fences with gun towers along every state and federal border, and turn everything from education and health care to national defense over to for-profit corporations.

Conservatives are hypocrites. They hate America. They are essentially unpatriotic fascists.

So what ever happened to wise, public-spirited, experienced leaders who take a moderate, problem-solving approach to government and put the public interest ahead of personal and partisan gains? No wonder Americans despair of ever climbing out of the hole this country has dug for itself. Extremism in defense of liberty is getting us nowhere.

Only 48 percent of Americans say they see anyone running they think would make a good president. President Obama’s job approval rating is hovering around that same 48 percent. And Congress’ approval rating just hit an all-time low of 11 percent.

Looking ahead to the 2012 elections, therefore, what I see these numbers and this extreme polarization in American civic life adding up to is a recognition on the part of the general public that Obama is their only moderate choice and that the extremists in Congress simply have to go.

Come November, I predict Obama will be re-elected, a lot of tea party congressmen will be find themselves back out on the street, and Democrats will regain control of the Maine Legislature.

That would be a happy New Year.

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Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Yarmouth. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.