Ideological Purity in the Two-Party System

One thing I love about living in Washington is the fact that so many people are conversant about the issues of today. Apart from being one of the most educated areas in the world, there are a lot of passionate people.

What I appreciate most is when I find ample justification for why my personal politics are so middle of the road generally and so set on a policy-by-policy basis.

Brian Caplan at George Mason’s econ program has some great thoughts about the difference between Republicans and Democrats in an ideological sense.

“So what is the “key difference” between the parties? Rhetoric…This rhetorical illusion is so powerful that when a Democrat like Clinton adopts many pro-market reforms, Republicans still hate him as a 60s radical. And when Bush II sharply expands the welfare state, Democrats still hate him as a billionaire’s lackey.”

He goes on to note:
“The second big misconception is that the parties’ rhetoric makes sense on its own terms. It doesn’t. If Dems really cared about poor human beings, they would quit worrying about the American old, most of whom aren’t poor…Similarly, if Reps really cared about “over-burdened” tax-payers, they would try to diminish the burden in the only sustainable way: Big cuts in spending.”

There is ideological inconsistency on both sides. Both are the party of “No” in historical terms-it just depends on which DC building they inhabit: the Capitol or the White House. I think that is why I’m much more interested in ideas than I am in identities. Maybe others don’t see it that way.


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