America dodged the immediate damage of the killer tsunami, but a potentially more dangerous phenomenon threatens to wash across our nation. The new political paradigm -- concrete intransigency.
No quarter asked for -- no quarter given. Us versus Them, and Us is me. And whoever likes me at the time. The Colosseum relocated to the Senate. I'm so right and you're so wrong that anybody who agrees with you should be ambushed, assaulted and abused.
Say what you will about the Liberals, for the most part, they actually believe deep down in their hearts that impoverished kids enrolled in Head Start programs can contribute to society and make the world a better place to live. For all of us.
And rich people should pay for that.
Conservatives wonder why these kids don't pull themselves up by their bootstraps the way they did when Daddy bequeathed them their first oil well. Life is a race and anybody with a Head Start is cheating. Anybody not part of their family, that is.
These basic attitudes stem from deep-rooted philosophical differences. The Liberal idea is by helping the greater good, it will eventually come back and benefit everyone. While Conservatives believe exactly the opposite. By helping themselves, it will eventually come back and benefit themselves.
And now that politics is a 24/7 media proposition, those positions are calcifying. Conservative voices dominating center stage today can be divided into three groups. The Greedy. The Mean. And the Stupid. They live in a black-and-white land where compromise equals defeat, and "discussion" means you take notes while they talk.
Liberals can be distilled into three groups as well. The Pompous. The Weak. And the Stupid. Their world is a rainbow of colors, where the government provides everyone with that big box of 64 crayons and encourages them to write on the walls. Anybody's walls.
Liberals want to nurture the brotherhood of man while Conservatives deem this mythical brotherhood just another left-wing conspiracy trying to separate them from their money.
Conservatives are sincerely of the opinion that they stole all their stuff fair and square, while Liberals think people with too much stuff should give some of their stuff to people who don't have any stuff.
The problem is nobody considers their collection of stuff to be too much.
Liberals want to reform prisoners. Conservatives don't believe in taking any. Liberals would rather lose honorably than be accused of acting unfairly. As a matter of fact, Liberals are more comfortable losing than they are winning. Conservatives will do whatever it takes to win, including painting their kids' teachers as the enemy. Not only are they bad losers, they're bad winners as well.
Another odd thing is the two sides continue to play the game under entirely different narratives. Liberals act like associate producers at a folk fair trying to choreograph the welcoming dance of converging cultures, while failing to notice the ragged band of Conservatives lighting torches and running headlong towards them up the castle hill armed with pitchforks.
There's a war going on, but only one side seems aware of it. You'd think the mugging that went down in Wisconsin would be the sharp poke in the side necessary to wake Liberals up. But knowing them, they'll probably be more concerned with strengthening the guardrails on the castle hill road and introducing legislation to reform pitchfork safety standards.
Will Durst is an award-winning, San Francisco-based political comic who often jots his thoughts down on paper. Such as here. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.