They aren’t talking to each other; they aren’t even talking about the same stuff anymore.
I normally hang out with liberals, but this past weekend I spent around some of the more traditionally conservative members of my extended family. Since I spend a fair amount of time critiquing liberal ideas, you might think we’d have a ton to discuss, but no. The things I’m concerned about and the things they’re concerned about are totally different things.
Think about it: how often do you hear liberals make an impassioned defense of Obama’s actions in Benghazi?
Personally, never. I’ve never heard liberals discuss Benghazi at all. The only time I’ve heard the word cross their lips, (or keyboards,) is in the context of, “Oh god, my conservative relatives ae going to rattle on endlessly about Benghazi at Thanksgiving dinner.” It might as well be a hemorrhoid treatment for all liberals want to talk about it.
Now take the conservative side. When’s the last time you heard your conservative relatives talking about “white privilege”?
Some stuff makes it into both communities–riots, for example–but a ton of political debate, discussion, philosophy, development, etc., is going on in total isolation from the other side.
The reason, quite simply, is the internet.
Once upon a time, there was no internet. Everyone watched TV and/or read newspapers, and even if you hated Fox News or MSNBC, you probably still encountered it occasionally or knew people who watched it. In other words, there were only a few news sources, and chances were good that you were watching/reading them.
Then came the internet. Many young people today get most of their news/political discussion from internet sources like Tumblr and Facebook. Many of them do not take a newspaper or watch the evening news, and neither do the majority of people they know.
Older people still get their news primarily from TV and newspapers. (One older relative claimed to spend $190 a month just so he could watch Fox News–a news source he very adamantly vowed to never give up.)
So young people progress ever leftward, largely oblivious to what old people are thinking and talking about. And old people, in their own information-bubble, have no idea what young people are thinking and talking about.
Conservatism tends to be pretty bad at making coherent counter-arguments to liberalism, (mostly, I think, because conservatives tend to operate on an emotional basis of “I like it like this because I’m used to it,” rather than on rational arguments,) but if the two sides aren’t even talking, the chances of getting the two sides to agree on anything or debate their way to a rational consensus seems even less likely than usual.
I think it likely that some new form of conservatism may spawn from the depths of the internet.