Okay, weighing in on the recent Giuliani kerfuffle, wherein America's Mayor questioned the President's patriotism and background. Yes, racist, absolutely. But it goes deeper than that, actually.
Republican talking heads cannot simply disagree with their opponents. They cannot just insult them or demonize them. They must delegitimize them. Voter fraud. Birth certificate. Unpatriotic. Benghazi couldn't just be a tragedy, it had to be a cover-up. Acorn. Communist. Socialist. Muslim. Foreign. Other.
But think back to when Bill Clinton was president. He wasn't one of us, either. Whitewater. Vince Foster. Lewinsky. Remember when the Right called Clinton "the first black president" as a way of de-legitimizing him? How about Kerry? Remember Swift Boats? Or flag pins - remember when suddenly everyone had to wear a flag pin or they didn't love their country? And if Hilary is elected, they're going to hit her with all the feminine bullshit, along with all her husband's baggage AND Obama's (Benghazi!). I guarantee Vince Foster's name will come up again, and stories about four dead bodies by train tracks or whatever the hell that nonsense was.
I'm trying to imagine a world in which every decision President Bush made was greeted by the media and protesters crying, "He's not REALLY the President! Hanging chads, hanging chads, voter fraud, stolen election!" or "Ohio voting machines! Stolen votes! Illegitimate!!!!" or "He rented that ranch in Texas! He's not a REAL American because he's faking his credentials as a rancher!"
It's gotten so bad on the Right that ANYTHING they disagree with can't be legitimate. Science isn't right anymore. Climate change must be a ploy by all those greedy scientists and, I guess, solar panel billionaires lining their pockets. Teachers aren't right, because we don't agree with the facts they're teaching. Now even history isn't legitimate!
Jon Stewart came close when he said they believe the opposite of bad isn't good, it's conservative. But I think it goes even further. The Right cannot even conceive of the other side playing fair, or having opinions that are honestly held, or being patriotic and yet thinking differently.
One of the worst ways to define yourself is in a negative. Through what you are not. But that's what happens when you're insecure in your beliefs. You find other people to point at and say, "I'm not like that!" So conservatives must demonize liberals in an effort to define themselves. It's not that they have firmly-held beliefs, as we learn every time the Left adopts a conservative idea and suddenly the GOP is against it. They simply know that whatever they are is right, and the other side is wrong. If the other side says one thing, the answer is always, "No!" It's a comforting formula, if incoherent. They can always know where they stand, because there will always be two sides - conservative and liberal. Or, put in their terms, the good people, and everyone else.
I believe that Republicans love America. But the GOP doesn't just want us to love America in the same way they do. They cannot conceive of anyone loving America in any other way, because that would mean there IS another way. And that would mean admitting there was legitimacy to an opposing point of view. Which they cannot do, because they are so insecure in their beliefs, they'll fight to the death to prove them true, against all odds.
Which is a shame, because that grit and determination could be really awesome, if it wasn't so rooted in fear.