One thing I've always noted in Hollywood movies is that left-wing leaders and governments are portrayed as benevolent and freedom-loving while right-wing governments are seen as controlling and dictatorial. What fascinates me about this is how this is the opposite of real life.
One live example of this is the current political debate going on in the United States. On the right the Republicans are having one of the most boring nomination campaigns in history but the presence of Ron Paul and his strong libertarianism as well as the (waning) influence of the Tea Party is forcing the candidates to discuss such issues as individual freedom and the role of government in the lives of its citizens.
On the left, however, no such discussion is happening. Actually, it's quite the opposite. Two current themes are coming out of that side: (1) The government is right to expand its role into people's lives, especially in health care and (2) if you disagree with lefist views and values you are wrong and stupid.
Not of a different opinion. Not reaching a different conclusion. Wrong and stupid.
Now one can certainly appreciate the value of such an attitude. For one thing it saves you from having to actually defend your positions in any debate. Why go through the bother of having to develop an intelligent base for your position when you can simply slag the other side and declare its opinion null and void simply because it disagrees with yours?
What the definition of "legitimate scientist"? One who believes in global warming. If you don't, it doesn't matter how much information you have to back up your position. You can't be legitimate because legitimate scientists support global warming. Therefore your opinion doesn't count and it can be states that all legitimate scientists agree that global warming is a man-made phenomenon which will ultimately destroy all life on the planet.
Want to talk about abortion, possible on regulating it or restricting it so it doesn't act as a form of birth control? You hate women. You think they can't think for themselves. You're a evil person who wants women to die of septic shock from the complications of backstreet abortions. You couldn't possibly be reasonable because the definition of reasonable is "believes in abortion without restriction".
Consider the left's response to the rise of Rick Santorum in the Republican nomination race. Now, I'm not a big fan of Santorum. From what I've seen of the pathetic field of candidates I think that Mitt Romney is the most presidential and I base that on his haircut more than anything else. Frankly I think Newt Gingrich might do a good job of it but he looks like a troll. No Oval Office for him.
But it's the reaction to Rick Santorum that I find fascinating. It's visceral and hateful more than anything. Here's a guy who, unlike Romney and Gingrich, is offering a socially conservative platform. He's standing on things like restricting abortion, the role of religion in the public square and so on. And the left has been driven into a frenzy. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, two men whose jobs exist simply so the right can be made fun of, can't stop attacking him. The press is having a field day. "I can't believe he thinks that" and "I hope he doesn't win" seem to be the most popular things to say about him.
What happened to the democratic process? If Rick Santorum's view disagree with your then don't vote for him but is the left suggesting through their rhetoric that he has no right to those views at all? Is democracy for them a competition between left and lefter because other views are simply not allowed?
Perhaps the difference between the left and the right is best seen in the difference between the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements. The latter organized, spread and then worked to put its representatives into office so they could influence the course of government. They didn't expect to change America by shouting but by proving their ideas in the political marketplace. The former hung out in parks, whinged and engaged in public vandalism and then went home when the weather turned cold. They had no interest in engaging in politics because they didn't think they should have to turn to something as banal as the democratic process in order to force their ideas down other people's throats.
Another great example is the recent statement of Justin Trudeau's up here in Canada. For America readers, Trudeau is the son of the most snobbish, arrogant and self-centered prime minister Canada ever had. For Pierre Eliot Trudeau others were inferior creatures designed to be remade in his image of what the average docile Canadian should be. It is no wonder that his son recently stated that if Canada, under its current (nominally) right wing government continued its crusade to change the country then he would consider supporting the separation of Quebec since la belle province would be the only "right thinking" place left.
Again, take a step back. The current government has said nothing about regulating abortion (currently completely unregulated up here) or curtailing homosexual marriage rights (currently available across the country). That didn't stop Trudeau from accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper of imminently revoking eligibility for both. The lack of evidence of any actual attempts means nothing to him since Harper is clearly opposed to both and that's enough for him.
A final example is Canadian scientist-celebrity David Suzuki's musings recently that any politician opposed to accepting global warming as "fact" should be put in jail. Not voted out of office by the electorate. Not debated in a public forum. Jail. Why debate when your opponent is so obviously wrong? Why trust the election process when the people might make the wrong choice (ie. not yours)?
It is ironic that the leftist attitude that disdains any contradicting opinion to its own is ultimately what disqualifies them from being able to have intelligent debates. Perhaps in the future someone will arise from that side of the spectrum that is capable of articulating left wing positions intelligently but it doesn't seem to be the case now.