Of course, as a conservative, I'm enraged by the narrative out of the left that the Arizona shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others was prompted by "hate speech" on the right and Sarah Palin in particular.
But I don't think that Democrats will be able to move their narrative.
Ever since liberals got sideswiped by an opportunist Sen. McCarthy (R-WI) in the 1950s they have been terrified that it could happen again. So they see right-wing extremism under every bed; they are determined that they will never be politically cornered as they were when it turned out that a lot of liberals had flirted with Communism in the 1930s and that some of them had even spied for the Soviet Union.
I suspect that liberals know that the average American doesn't really like liberalism, and so they are eternally afraid that some movement is about to erupt that will sweep their educated ruling class out of power forever. They project this fear onto any deranged gunman or pre-revolutionary right-wing group that erupts into the news. For years, every nice liberal lady was taught to be terrified of right-wing "militia" groups, whatever they were.
Of course, part of the drumbeat about "hate speech" is pure political opportunism. From a tactical point of view the heightened partisanship of the Bush years that was kept on a steady boil from the dead-heat 2000 election onwards was a great success. It helped the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006 and helped elect Barack Obama in 2008.
But now we are back to normal, and the real issue before the American people is: how much big government can it digest? At what point does even the voter with the biggest stomach just upchuck the turgid mess of it all?
That's why I believe that we conservatives can safely discount the effect of the media and the Democratic activist base and their "hate speech" drumbeat. The Democrats are on defense, big government is in trouble, and the retreat is going to be long and painful.
The big Democratic problem is that they have more to lose. It is Democratic voters that depend on the big entitlement programs. Apart from income considerations it just stands to reason that single, secular, childless people are more vulnerable to life's problems than married, religious people that have children.
In my view, we aren't going to reform the welfare state until it crashes and burns; that's just the way politics works. So, if you want to reform the welfare state the best thing to do is to prepare for a world in which the government runs out of money.
There's only one thing to worry about. Many governments in trouble are raiding peoples' private pension accounts. For conservatives and Republicans, it might be worth while making it politically impossible for government to come calling for our IRA and 401(k) accounts.
But when liberals run around blaming conservatives for political violence I think they are missing the point, and they are wasting their energy. Liberals have much better things to do with their time than demonizing conservative crazies. But if they want to waste their energy, who would want to stop them?