This seems like a moderately testable question, actually.

If we can define what class of statements we're talking about (say, public statements by elected officials between 1990 and 2010, just to pick something simple... trying to figure out the boundaries of a set that includes Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart would likely be distractingly contentious) we can look at the ratio of "new-guard" utterances (e.g. calls for revolution) to "old-guard" utterances (e.g., calls for civility) to neither (e.g., policy proposals).

If the OP is right, the OG/NG frequency should correlate well with majority/minority status, and not at all well with Republican/Democrat status. (Assuming this has some relationship to the "left"/"right" distinction discussed... or if not, then some other way of identifying whether the speaker is "left" or "right". If we can't even do that, then never mind.)

Has this sort of thing been done?

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I'm going to call a [citation needed] on Tea Partiers referring to themselves as teabaggers. Because, you know, they don't. They call themselves Tea Partiers, as you would know if you actually read anything but partisan dreck.

In the meantime, you should consider taking a back seat in discussions until you can refrain from using childish slurs.

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I'm going to call a [citation needed] on Tea party people referring to themselves as "teabaggers". Because, you know, they don't. They call themselves "Tea Partiers". If you're too simple or too partisan to know that it is universally anti-tea party people who call them that, you really shouldn't be commenting on the matter.

Or anything else for that matter.

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kevin: "teabaggers" is the nomenclature that movement introduced itself as, it's not something anyone else put on them.

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I'll give you the Bush/Hitler point, but note that Stewart is calling those people out just as much as he is the teabaggers.

I'm going to call a [Citation Needed] on "Acorn's thugs."

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Status-anxious, striving citizen seeks to flatter self with his own 'politer-than-the-rabble' high-mindedness.

Politician--seeking to ignite mutual flattery with citizenry--initiates emphasis on 'the civility issue', implicitly asserting his own civility-paragonhood.

Citizen bites on hook.

Politicians will play this 'civility gambit' when they think it will be of use. As a general rule, the more sanctimonious the politician, the more attractive the civility gambit will be.

I don't call myself 'a progressive' as it still has a certain Lincoln Steffens sound to it and also for its smug/moralistic odor.

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So why is the U.S. left suddenly so eager to emphasize its civility and maturity compared with the right?It's partly because we are in the middle of a sea-change in the US left; a movement from "liberal" to "progressive."

Liberals were, and some still are, anti-authoritarian rabble-rousers. Progressives are defined by a certain squishy authoritarianism.

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The new guard is going to be terribly disappointed after they win and little changes, while the old guard will be surprised after they lose about how little changes. Le meme chose..

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I have to side with the people who've been saying the premise of this post is wrong. Liberals have been portraying themselves as the more reasonable party for a long time, since before they were in power.

A couple hypotheses that haven't been considered yet:

(1) It may actually reflect reality. Until recently, I would have been hard-pressed to think of prominent liberal pundits promoting the sort of obvious falsehoods you get from an Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck.

More recently, I've had the misfortune to have watched MSNBC a few times at the gym, and MSNBC seems to be trying very hard to make itself into a left-wing copy of Fox News. I doubt MSNBC would do what it does if conservatives hadn't made crazy seem like a good idea.

(2) The U.S. is a fairly conservative country relative to other rich countries. It's also one where more people identify as conservative than identify as liberal. This may make conservatives less afraid of sounding crazy, and liberals more concerned to avoid offending anyone.

Thus, conservatives are proudly conservative and talk about how "liberals" and "progressives" are evil, wheras liberals shun the word "liberal" and try to position themselves as the reaonable alternative to "right wing extremists."

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Why do you say "suddenly"? Stewart's high-minded tone and message of getting along despite differences is very similar to Obama's persona during the 2008 election, or even during his big 2004 keynote speech.

Liberals have been complaining for years that the political process in general, or the Republican party/conservative movement in particular, is filled with manufactured outrage, wild inaccuracies, and demonizing political attacks, with far too little sincere effort to describe issues accurately and get policies right. Tea Partiers are the latest manifestation, but previous complaints have focused on the Obama Muslim rumors, the Swift Boat vets, the idea that war opponents hate America or want the terrorists to win, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and so on.

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I don’t think Robin wants his forum to degenerate into a pissing contest between left and right, and I’m not very interested in that either.

The left has taken the head-stomping incident in Kentucky and ran with it, to suggest or imply that the Teabaggers in general are violent.


>pissing contest between left and right

Wow. That's a stunning lack of self-awareness, mtraven. Try coming back after you learn to refrain from using slurs against your hated enemies.

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the party out of power is probably nearly as corrupt ... as the party in power

I suspect this may be less true in a parlimentary democracy, where the oposition has comparatively less power because all votes are on party lines and so bribing a member of the opposition is much less effective than bribing a memember of the government.

When a new government is elected there are new ministers and it will take time for the new corrupt relationships (on an individual person to person level) to set themselves up. The more time a person is in a particular position of power the stronger these relationships can grow.

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Ryan, the new guard claims that the incumbents are "out of touch" in Robin's framework.

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I don't think Robin wants his forum to degenerate into a pissing contest between left and right, and I'm not very interested in that either.

It is interesting to me how partisans on both sides like to inflate the dangerousness of their opponents. The left has taken the head-stomping incident in Kentucky and ran with it, to suggest or imply that the Teabaggers in general are violent. And then there's you above referring to "the viciousness of Acorn's thugs", despite the lack of existence of said thugs (not to mention that the organization is defunct).

Even more generally, in any situation of conflict you'll find those on both sides who want to heighten the differences and increase the hostility and polarization; and occasionally you can find others who are trying to cool tempers, build bridges, promote peaceful coexistence.

Stewart was trying, in his comic's way, to play the latter role, and his efforts should be appreciated for what they are.

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mtraven makes the same tired old leftist claim. Because Stewart is not on the Far Left, that makes him not THE LEFT. He is definitely to the left of the American center, hence he is on The Left. Further, his rally wishes to suggest that the current uprising is "unreasonable" and immodest.

wrt to the original post, Robin fails to note that the mainstream media amplifies the Left's illusions by accepting the narrative (in both 1994 and 2010) that when the Right is the successful upstart that represents unjustified anger, and usually not a good tantrum at that. In contrast, 2008 was "righteous", uplifting, necessary change, and a "good" revolution. Never mind that the anti-Bush rallies were much uglier and featured much more Hitler-Bush name-calling than the median Tea Party Rally. And let us not forget the viciousness of Acorn's thugs. But no, the Left is never angry or unreasonable. It's always the Right.

The only saving grace of this self-delusion is the Left is always blindsided when they lose big.

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The party seeking to make a primary issue of 'civility' invariably seeks to present itself as civility's god-annointed umpire and enforcer. 'Civility' is the McCarthyite's favored mask.

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