There are many different kinds of leftists, and the deeper one digs, the more one finds. Yet for the sake of time and simplicity, we tend to lump everyone on the left together. What we need is a way to break down the left so that we know whom we are dealing with and how to attack them ideologically and practically.
American conservatism, on the other hand, is fairly straightforward. There are those who have been accurately referred to as "Traditional Americans," who believe in the Constitution, liberty, and freedom in their heart and soul. These people tend to be decent, hard-working, family-oriented, religious people who believe that the greatness of America to be self-evident.
On the other hand, there are Libertarians, who fellow travel with the Traditional Americans because of their common enemy of the left. These people seek ideological and philosophical consistency to combat socialists intellectually. They desire to persuade people of greatness of the Founding and capitalism by appeal to pure reason.
The "three legs" of the conservative stool analogy (made famous by Rush Limbaugh), is a bit misleading because fiscal conservatives, national security conservatives, and social conservatives overlap too much in the national security and social conservative categories. The paradigm is still useful from the perspective of identifying policies and their supporters. In distinction, libertarians refused to vote for McCain against Obama for fiscal, social, and national security reasons and was part of the reason for his defeat (including those who chose to stay home.) To clarify, libertarians may or may not be members of the Libertarian Party.
More complicated is the make-up of the modern left. Leftists can be broken down, for practical reasons, into the following types: "Feel-gooders," "Convenience" leftists, "Not Republicans," and Socialists.
Feel-gooders are those people who gravitate to the left because they feel it to be more "compassionate." The values of equality, diversity, multiculturalism, environmentalism are ingrained in their social circles. These people feel their values to be correct because they believe that "nicer" people hold them. They are practically immune to rational argument if it "feels wrong" to them.
Convenience Leftists are opportunists who express the left's values and vote Democrat due to various economic and social pressures. These can be government workers, union members, welfare recipients, and other group thinkers who exploit the left's policies and signal phrases for their own personal benefit. This is the most dangerous group for the tea party, because they are uniquely vulnerable to the destructive economics of the left. The worse things get, the more entrenched this group becomes for the Democrats, in accordance with Cloward-Piven's theory. The best way to target this group is to make it clear to them in the long-run, growing the private sector is necessary to support the economy of the nation.
Not Republicans are those who were likely raised Democrat and will never vote Republican regardless of the political terrain. Their dislike of Republicans is primarily due to certain social issues, powerful memories of scandal or certain unsavory figures, and media manipulation. These people are viscerally opposed to Republicans, almost like a Chicago Bears fan will always hate the Green Bay Packers.
Socialists are the hard left elements, whose tentacles are spread throughout the other groups. Their operatives, whether they acknowledge that they are "socialists" or not, intermingle with the other groups and seek to manipulate them. We shall take a closer look at these sad, misguided creatures.
The types of socialists can be broken down into: Ideologues, Revolutionaries, Functionaries, and Beneficiaries.
Ideologues are those who operate in the realm of socialist ideas, and tend to be true believers in the truth and beauty of socialism. In the true believer's mind, the triumph of socialism is inevitable and a beautiful utopia can come to pass if we only destroy capitalism. (They don't recognize, for example, that if it were that easy to bring about nirvana simply by destroying an economic system, it would have come to pass already.) These may also be cultural marxists or other neomarxists. Their characteristics are: romantic, sermonizing, prophetic, and naive.
Revolutionaries are radicals who seek the destruction of capitalist "society" because they are angry, reckless, and obsessed with "action." They are basically malcontents who have nothing better to do than to stir up trouble, envy, anger, and resentment. They hate the world and want to "watch it burn" for its own sake. These people, who would otherwise be official criminals, have found their niche within the destructive leftist program.
Functionaries are calculating, pragmatic, ideologically apathetic group thinkers who benefit from the left's power-seeking. Whether in the civil service or in the administrative ranks of government, these people are "useful idiots" who simply "go along for the ride." These people are frequently "Convenience" leftists, and are relatively easy to manipulate with benefits and handouts.
Beneficiaries are those people who benefit substantially from the left's program, in terms of wealth, fame, and influence. These are political and intellectual leaders, prominent social activists, union heads, and important media personalities (most fall within the functionary category). Beneficiaries sit at the top of the left's pyramid schemes while decrying the evils of capitalism. This makes them extremely hypocritical.
The importance of coming up with such a typology for the left can be seen if we categorize the presidents according to their socialism type.
It may seem contradictory to argue that a politician can fall into more than one type, but that reflects the unique leadership role the president has within the leftist program. Note that Barack Obama is the only president to combine every socialist type. Unsurprisingly, he is foolish, easy to manipulate, destructive, and hypocritical. This is in all likelihood no accident. Obama was groomed for his role the ultimate socialist president, and he is certainly not his own man, whether he believes he is or not. His deceptive nature is an aspect of his split personality.