Jejudo, South Korea
It is a constituency, as John McQuaid rightly pointed out here some weeks ago, that is cosseted and soothed and kept obediently in the fold by "a sense of grievance" that "underlies much of the conservative media."
These are the people who parrot, on cue, the latest talking point that "liberals" are "full of rage" because they "hate America." But all you have to do is tap a Dittohead on the shoulder and you'll hear that something, or everything, has gone "wrong." Things aren't "the way they're supposed to be." Grievance, injustice, the feeling that somewhere (probably "Hollywood") some pampered poof is living high on the hog while we -- the real people, the decent people, God's people -- have to take it on the chin, is the emotional background music to every Red State day.
Of course, this sense of the world changing in threatening ways has been around since--well, the Industrial Revolution, if not the Bronze Age, but never mind. These folks have a beef--rather, a whole stockyard full of beeves -- that the Limbaughs and Hannitys are happy to play to, stimulate, yes, fluff. You don't keep the listeners or move the merch by offering reassurance or adopting the historical view.
Instead, you say, "You're right to be aggrieved. We're aggrieved. Bill O'Reilly rakes in eight figures a year and he's aggrieved. Your kids can barely read. Retirement is a joke. The blacks, the Latinos, the Asians -- they're getting everything. Two days in a hospital will send you to the poorhouse and it'll cost three bucks a gallon to get there. The New York Times is making us lose in Iraq by saying that we're losing in Iraq. The Internet is a nonstop parade of degenerates who aren't married, having sex with each other, or degenerates who are married having sex with animals. Everywhere you look there's godless atheism, which is the worst kind. What we need is for Jack Bauer to kill Michael Moore, because he's fat. But what we get is homo-loving elites sipping mojitos all day and staring at photos of Lindsay Lohan's hoo-hah. And you know who's to blame? After six years of unlimited Republican rule? Liberals."
Or course, it used to be "communists." Or "the Jews." Or "the Negroes." Or the A.C.L.U., the "Feminazis," and on and on. (In Europe it's becoming "the Moslems.") The right-wing Republican, enthralled with his fantasy of being a "rugged individualist," "proud" of his "freedoms," and ready to "stand tall" (and use his "God-given right to own a gun") to "defend America against her enemies," is never so happy as when he's feeling sorry for himself and victimized by one stereotyped group or another.
And there you have it. Conservativism is over because it's lost its sense of humor.