"I have always wondered how liberals so bent on critical thinking and diversity are so intolerant of differing opinions."
You kind of have the answer in your question. Notice how you without saying it mixed up two different things? "critical thinking and diversity" and "differing opinions".
That is quite revealing. An opinion or a belief is just an opinion or belief, and has nothing to do with critical thinking. Anyone can have an opinion or belief, and they do, we all do, but not everyone engages in critical thinking. Critical thinking requires reasoning skills, data, premises that correspond to reality, in an empirically verifiable way, and an ability/willingness to engage in that process, ie, the exact opposite of current neo-con type 'conservatives', who tend to operate almost purely on the basis of belief, faith, and bias confirmed opinions. If we are having a rational discussion and you demonstrate to me that I am wrong, either because my data is wrong, incomplete, or insufficient, or that my reasoning is wrong, and can show where and how that happened, then I will change my view. That is what critical thinking is, and it's why it's not a 'belief or opinion'. If, on the other hand, facts are selected only when they confirm beliefs or opinions, and are rejected when they don't, that is not critical thinking, that's not a discussion, and it's why you see this gulf. Stop rejecting facts and science and you will magically see the doors of dialogue open to you.
If you start babbling beliefs and opinions to me when I'm trying to have an intelligent conversation with you, and insist I respect these opinion no matter how materially or empirically wrong they are, that's absurd, yet that is what nonsense like 'intelligent design' wants you to do. There's a lot of room for intelligent discussion and disagreement, when it is rational,l but not when it's some ridiculous far right religious extremist nonsense, for example, that's not critical thinking engaging, that's just belief and dogma insisting it be taken at the same level of facts and scientific data, or whatever. So don't confuse those two things, we can share with each other what we believe, our opinions, like on sports talk shows, or we can have an intelligent discussion based on facts, data, and critical thinking, but we can't have one side doing one and the other not.
Just the use of the term 'liberals' to describe anyone left of far right itself is revealing, I'm certainly not a liberal, and have very little respect for the so called 'liberal' world, since unsustainable world views are just as silly when labelled rightwing as when labeled 'liberal', both are unsustainable and earth destroying in the end, one is just worse than the other, but not a lot worse.
So if you really want to start to understand this stuff, first of all, stop using the labels you get from the right wing media industry, and start looking at the actual reality, the actual patterns of beliefs, if opposition to government spending is the key, you certainly will not find that on the right, they just want different spending done, handed off to different, generally corporate groups like Blackstone, Military contractors, and so on.
The key to doing critical thinking is simple: have you searched out the best available data generated by the best most reliable sources? If not, why not? Or do you prefer to repeat the blather fox news spreads, like re global warming?
There's nothing at all wrong with conservative views that are actually conservative by the way, they just aren't very common in today's USA, the current crop of ignorance loving far righters certainly don't use critical thinking as their primary tools, but sane 'conseratives' like John Dean make really good sense and are quite rational, they simply have different beliefs than I do for example, but they are rational, but they do not hold the power at this point in our history.
For example, there's a lot of debate within climate change science, and it's a good debate, like, are the models far too conservative, or are they accurate (answer shown time after time: too conservative), will we hit tipping points in 20 years, 40, 80? What happens when we hit it? What happens when global oil production goes into permanent decline, off its current plateau it's been undulating around on since 2008? There's a lot of ways to handle these things, but neither our center right democratic party or far right pulled republican party are doing a single thing to actually deal with the situation so who really cares what their followers think in the first place to be honest.
If I, for example, met a serious libertarian who also was seriously opposed to any power consolidation that would destroy 'free markets' (which have never ever existed anywhere, and serve as a simple fiction to be used to promote various wealth/power consolidation activities as far as I can see), such as large scale corporations, with the same exact vehemence they used against the government, which is the only thing that protects us from that extreme, I'd have no problems with our differences since they wouldn't matter.
Justin: Capitalism is a technical term, it means generating capital using capital, as opposed to generating wealth based on land and food production, which was the earlier model. Market exchanges are not specific to capitalism. Markets are great when operated by individuals, but fail as soon as any entity grows large enough to negatively impact the actual free trade and exchange by individuals because of its excessive power/influence, ie, if one big company can buy more cheaply, and sell at a loss to drive you out of business, which happens all the time, you don't have a free market, and pretending you do is absurd because it's not there, it's a fiction at that point, words only. Capitalism means the accumulation and lending of capital, at interest, and is based on the premise of eternal growth, required to pay off debt/interest, and an externalization of costs disguised as 'profit', but that's a more subtle point that is harder to grasp. Markets, when free and operated by individuals, work really well, as long as they do not externalize their costs, ie, pollution, waste, ecosystem destruction, etc.
Party on, usually I ignore these threads since I'm not a 'liberal' and I'm not a 'conservative', I just don't like non sustainable human social systems, and I like all sustainable ones, however they have evolved over millenia in the past, what works works.