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Donald Trump-emboldened conservatives trumpet their views, even in liberal Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Even in the deepest of the deep-blue states, things are different in the Donald Trump era.

At the 22nd annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last weekend, the reliably liberal crowd was seeded with more conservatives than in years past. Or at least more people willing to admit they were conservatives.

And, frankly, they were a little miffed.

Former liberal-turned-conservative author David Horowitz began his remarks on a panel about Trump by noting he hadn’t been invited to a book festival in a decade, even though he had several books published in that time.

He called a recent Los Angeles Times editorial series on Trump “deranged” (the editorial page editor was a fellow panelist) and distinguished between President Barack Obama (“a pathological liar”) and President Trump (who, he said, exaggerates extemporaneously).

And the Democrats?

“The Democratic Party is a party driven by hate,” he said. “The Democratic Party is driven by identity politics. Identity politics is racist,” he added later.

And, he said, the Democratic Party is now the party of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a lifelong supporter of communist causes.

Los Angeles is still a liberal town. The audience greeted Horowitz with either derisive laughter (he said that was evidence they were “brain dead”) or boos (he denounced liberal intolerance for contrary views). “It’s up to the liberals to live up to their pretense of being liberal,” he said.

Horowitz said he liked Donald Trump for a simple reason: The president hits back, like during the presidential debate in which Fox News channel moderator Megyn Kelly accused him of sexism. “Trump gets right back in your face,” Horowitz said.

On another panel, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt agreed: “A lot of people elected an attitude, not an ideology,” he said.

It may have been one of those people who stood up at the end of a panel on politics in Washington, D.C., featuring Los Angeles Times journalists to declare he’d been a reader of the paper since the 1960s, lamented its liberal politics and declared his hope that, under new ownership, all of the panelists would lose their jobs. More boos erupted from the crowd, drowning out the tense-but-polite reply from the moderator.

As audience members jeered, an older woman in the next row turned around and dismissively informed them that this is America, and people are allowed to have different opinions.

And also to announce those views and then delight in the dismay of those who disagree.

Make no mistake, the heart of Los Angeles will never be mistaken for a red state (even deep-red Orange County, just down the road, went for Hillary Clinton in November). But Trump’s election has inspired conservatives to be more aggressive about their views, even to the point of confrontation.

There’s no question conservatives have long chafed under the idea that liberals consider them their moral and intellectual inferiors, racist, homophobic and callous to the plight of the poor.

Conservatives, meanwhile, dismiss liberals as elites bent on eating out the substance of the hardworking for the benefit of the lazy or the criminal, studiously intolerant to conservative views while claiming to be the party of tolerance. (And there are certainly plenty of examples to support that stereotype as well, not least of which is the U.C. Berkeley campus.)

But now that these cards are on the table, perhaps both sides can see their way toward the common problems we all face, and to some common solutions that might make a real difference.

It will undoubtedly require a cooling of heads and of rhetoric, and more open minds on both sides. If we can get past our assumptions about our political opponents, we may just come to see them as who they are: our fellow Americans.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5276. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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