BOTH sides are dominated by fanatics
Now, part of the problem is that the Left is very good at recognizing the craziness of the Right, but totally oblivious to its own. It's an article of faith among "progressives" that their own sanity is the main thing distinguishing them from everybody else. Well, their sanity, their intelligence, their wit, and the privilege all these grant them of being able to answer those with whom they disagree with scorn, snark, and a general air of superiority rather than with mundane things like arguments.
I needed to go no further than the "Letters" column of The New Yorker to be reminded both of the arrogance which characterizes the American Left and of its craziness. To be sure, the conspiracy theories here involved the Koch Brothers and "The Rich" rather than the media and the "socialists" and the "cucks." Liberals tell themselves that they are far too genteel to even use a term as vulgar and as stupid as the latter. But their rhetoric is just is hysterical even if their spelling is better, and the tinfoil hats are every bit as shiny.
I learned this morning that the deficit is an illusion and that America is not really broke. It's just that all our capital is tied up in luxury yachts and summer homes. Yes, that odd argument was, at least, made on behalf of the worthy premise that society has an obligation to the least fortunate of its members. But there seemed no more awareness on the part of the person who made it that his arithmetic doesn't add up than there is on the part of conservatives who insist with an equally oblivious abandon that there is no need for the government to help the poor because that's the job of the churches and private charity. That the bill is in each case exponentially, and even comically larger than the resources being suggested for paying it doesn't seem to occur to the extremists on either side of the political divide.
Making Mexicans and Muslims the scapegoats for all of our problems is crazy. It's demagogic, it's unproductive, and it's a lie. But then, so is the notion that "the rich" don't pay their fair share of taxes.
Consider 2012, the latest year for which detailed statistics are available, The richest 50% that year paid 97.2% of all income taxes, compared with 2.8% being paid by the bottom 50%.
The infamous "one percent" paid 31.2% of all income taxes in 2012, compared with 29.8% being paid by the bottom 90%.
The effective tax rate for "the one percent" was seven times higher than that of the bottom 50%.
Neither fanaticism nor demagoguery is unique to the Right. The fact is that our political discourse takes place mostly in echo chambers among people who share our own prejudices. And isolated as we are from rational discourse (or even its expectation) on those rare occasions when we encounter those with whom we disagree, we end up calling each other names and spouting craziness at each other rather than engaging in the kind of rational debate upon which democracy depends. We are well-catechized in the talking points of our own individual flavors of crazy, and when our arguments fall apart when challenged by the other side, we blame their perversity rather than our own disconnection from reality. And the phenomenon is equally valid on both sides of the political divide.
But I will say one thing. In fact, I'm almost tempted to write a letter to The New Yorker to point it out: as crazy as the Trumpist Right is these days, finding relative sanity is a lot easier on the Right than on the Left. I, for one, am unable to think of analogs on the Left for Lindsey Graham, or John McCain, or even Ben Sasse or Mitt Romney.