Glenn Greenwald analyzes "A major difference between conservatives and progressives," and observes that a defining characteristic of the Bush era "was the lock-step uncritical reverence - often bordering on cult-like glorification - which the 'conservative' movement devoted to the 'Commander-in-Chief.'" He notes that progressive and liberals don't exhibit the same herd mentality:
...even though Obama unsurprisingly and understandably remains generally popular with Democrats and liberals alike, there is ample progressive criticism of Obama in a way that is quite healthy and that reflects a meaningful difference between the "conservative movement" and many liberals.
Greenwald sees this as a key difference between our competing political movements:
Blind reverence and uncritical loyalty -- the need to see a political leader as one who embodies infallible truth and transformative justice and can deliver some form of personal or emotional elevation -- breeds ossification, intellectual death, and authoritarian corruption. Anyone who doubts that should look at the state of today's conservative movement to see what the fruits are of that cultish mentality.
Many conservatives typically use the excuse that a national crisis (9/11) is what led to such lock-step and uncritical support for the Leader, but many progressives are retaining their critical faculties despite the economic crisis consuming not just America but the world. There are many legitimate criticisms one might make of liberals but, with some exceptions, replicating the Leader worship and blind reverence that dominated the Bush era doesn't appear to be one of them.
I'm encouraged by the general lack of groupthink to date, although there are still troubling--albeit isolated--instances of sycophancy.