I posted something along these lines in an Electrolite comment, but it’s worth expanding on a bit here. Patrick’s post calls this process “seduction,” but it’s seduction in the way that a man whose wife constantly checks his collar and screams at him is eventually “seduced” by another woman. It’s as much a push as a pull.
I see this all the time as someone whose views straddle the left-right divide. I disagree with the Christian bloggers on most of their core issues; probably the only thing we’re in full agreement on is that the Catholic Church’s behavior in covering up its sex scandal has been shameful. We’re at odds on cloning, on abortion, and often on birth control and evolution, though the Christian bloggers aren’t as unified on those last two issues. But they’re always polite.
On the Left, though, we find all these pseudonymous name-calling bloggers whose specialty seems to be abuse aimed at those deviating from the party line. De Long isn’t one of those, of course, but this line from his post bespeaks a certain tribalism: “There’s still time for Kaus to return to his neoliberal roots.”
As the old saying has it, the left looks for heretics and the right looks for converts, and both find what they’re looking for. The effect is no doubt subliminal, but people who treat you like crap are, over time, less persuasive than people who don’t. If people on the Left are so unhappy about how many former allies are changing their views, perhaps they should examine how those allies are treated.