Several commenters are having issues with my use of the slang "wingnut." Boiled down, the argument is that I won't convince anyone if I'm using a pejorative term to describe them.
I want to emphasize here that I'm not categorically labeling all conservatives as "wingnuts." There's a big difference. Truth be told, I have quite a few conservative friends with whom I can debate on a sane, rational level -- conservatives who aren't afraid to concede a point or to arrive at a reasonable compromise.
These aren't wingnuts.
Wingnuts are the entrenched crazies who routinely vote against their own best interests. People who are oblivious to their own ignorance, contradictions and backwards worldview. They proudly consider themselves "dittoheads" and believe President Obama is a communist Muslim terrorist born in Kenya and that the Constitution is a religious document. They make up their own history and reject empirical reality. They routinely contradict themselves and when you point out their obvious inconsistencies, they insist that your sources are part of the liberal media cabal.
And they will never be convinced by you or me. The best we can do is to systematically inject reality into their heads -- to fight back using facts and strong, persuasive arguments. Whip them into a frenzy and hope that, in some way, the brain worms begin to dissipate.
But for the most part, we're talking about people who were brought up to believe certain things regardless of empirical reality. As we all know, wingnut ideology is largely grounded in faith and devotion (not always religious faith, but a faith in ideology regardless of whether it's backwards). For example, wingnuts often believe that homosexuality is wrong and should remain illegal to some degree. This usually isn't a conscious, independent decision reached after lengthy analysis of the facts, but a taught, ingrained perception of morality -- drilled and nurtured from birth. To defy that way of thinking is to challenge the wingnut's faith in his or her family, his or her morality/religion and, thus, his or her very being. Nothing you say will change that, whether or not the counter-argument is peppered with the word "wingnut." And if you, perchance, have managed to change someone's mind on an issue like this, chances are that person wasn't a wingnut.
Anyway, I hope this clarifies some things.