If you want to understand the Left, the best place to start is with an understanding of hysteria. Leading leftists either use hysteria as a political tactic or are actually hysterics.
Take almost any subject the Left discusses and you will find hysteria.
The Patriot Act: According to leftist spokesmen and groups, the Patriot Act is a grave threat to liberty and democracy. It is frequently likened to the tactics of a fascist state. This is pure hysteria. The Los Angeles Times recently published statistics concerning the use of the Act. Through 2004, of the 7,136 complaints to the Justice Department's inspector general, one was related to the Patriot Act. The number of "sneak and peek" warrants, allowing searches without telling a subject, totaled 155. The number of roving wiretaps was 49, and the number of personal records seizures under Section 215 of the Act was 35.
The war in Iraq: It is not enough for leftist opponents of the war to argue that the war is a mistake, was initiated due to faulty intelligence, or is being poorly prosecuted. Rather they charge that President Bush lied, that the war was waged for Halliburton, and that America is engaged in a criminal and imperialist enterprise. Each charge is a form of hysteria.
Risks to health: Not everyone who believes the hysterical claims of danger made about secondhand smoke, baby formula, dodgeball or Bextra is on the Left. But the Left leads the country in hysteria over dangers to health. That is why leftist organizations are generally incapable of merely saying that something is unhealthy. The danger must be described as the killer of hundreds of thousands and often be ascribed to some murderous corporate conspiracy.
Environment: More people may be attacked by aardvarks in any given year than visit the remote and frozen region of Alaska known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). It is the home, however, of vast oil reserves and many caribou. Good people can differ on whether or not to drill for oil there. But the rhetoric of the Left is hysterical. Listening to leftist organizations one would think that drilling would bring no benefit to America and would render the caribou virtually extinct. None of this is true. It is all drama.
Likewise there is largely hysteria over global warming and the charge that man -- especially Homo Americanus -- is the cause of it. The great number of scientists who claim that we are in a normal warming period or in no major weather change at all are ignored. Only the most hysterical scenarios are offered by the Left. Witness the reasons given for Hurricane Katrina. Yet even The New York Times reported that scientists are virtually unanimous in denying that the hurricane has anything to do with global warming.
Animal rights: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the living embodiment of hysteria. Take their program "Holocaust on your plate," which equates barbecuing chickens with the cremating of the Jews in the Holocaust. It is one thing to be concerned about chickens' welfare, but only hysterics compare eating them with the slaughter of a people.
Racism: There is no worse charge than racism. Acting hatefully toward people because of their skin color is among the most vile acts a person can engage in. Yet the Left throws that charge around as if it were the essence of the American people (which, come to think of it, is what many on the Left believe). Most of the time, however, the charge of racism -- such as when it is directed at opponents of race-based affirmative action -- is just another example of hysteria.
Christianity: Most on the Left really believe that this country is on the verge of a theocracy because George W. Bush is an evangelical Christian, because the words "under God" are still in the Pledge of Allegiance, and because most Americans don't think marriage ought to be redefined.
Other examples abound. America neglects its poor, beats up its gays, oppresses its women, fouls its environment, ignores its children's educations, denies blacks their votes, and invades other countries for corporate profits: These are common accusations of the Left.
No event is free of leftist hysteria. On the third day after Katrina, civil rights activist Randall Robinson reported that blacks in New Orleans were resorting to cannibalism. Indeed, most of the news media coverage bordered on the hysterical. Not to mention the hysterical predictions of 10,000-plus dead in New Orleans.
None of this is to deny that the Right also gets hysterical. Some right-wing reactions to immigration and Terry Schiavo provide such examples.
But the irony in all of this is that the Left sees itself as the side that thinks intellectually and non-emotionally. And that is hysterical.