Wow! My opinion of the contributors to this forum has gone up as a result of reading this thread. There's a lot here that I could comment on, but won't because there just isn't enough room. But I'll add a few things.
One, I don't care for labels so much and they have been used a lot in this discussion. For one thing, I think labels are often false. That is, someone calling themselves conservatives might not be as conservative as they are reactionary. On the other hand, no one here seems to be particularly revolutionary and I'm not even sure if there are any progressives. No offence to anyone.
Another thing is that labels generally imply more than is true about a particular group or individual at a given point in time, even though it may often be accurate enough.
One point not discussed so much is the idea that the far left and far right (or simply, the left and the right) are not representative of most people but rather that more people are somewhere in the middle, presumably the silent majority as someone called it. I fear that is not the case at all. While there may be many who are uninterested and uninformed about political matters, that doesn't place them in the middle. That puts them somewhere on the outside. In other words, for most people, most voters anyway, issues are seen as black/white, either/or. For better or for worse.
Most things aren't, like it or not. Nationalized health care, for instance. There seems to be the general assumption that if the federal government somehow implements a nationalized health care system, then private health care will somehow disappear. Well, it might but there are certainly plenty of private schools to send your child to if you don't like government run and therefore socialized public schools.
The word socialism has been used a lot here as if it is something bad. One might be a socialist but if you aren't, does that make you an anti-socialist?
Here's something else to ponder. Someone called me at home a few years ago asking me to attend a "support the troops" rally on the national mall (I live near D.C.). I asked her (It was a woman calling) to describe what it was. Was it a recruiting rally? Was it a bond drive? The caller was at a loss.
Well, I don't know about gay marriage but it seems to me that if you wanted to have a law to protect marriage, it would be about making divorce illegal. But I don't think these things through very well.
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.