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Party Polarization

by on October 31, 2010

Some people say that the two parties (at least, the two that the media allow to exist by covering them) are the same party with the same greed and the same self-protective interests.  That’s an interesting and somewhat valid view, but there are differences between the parties – and the differences are not just political.

Democrats think in terms of programs, policies, and particular pieces of legislation. It’s easy to reverse course by compromising more and giving up on legislative goals. Bill Clinton never mentioned the words “health care reform” after the 1994 midterms.

Republicans think in terms of simple ideas, themes, and movements. It’s far harder to reverse course on these (look what happened to the first George Bush when he raised taxes), and easier to keep them alive: Republican presidents just continue looking for opportunities to implement them.

Republicans are also more disciplined (ask yourself which party attracts authoritarian personalities and which attracts anti-authoritarians). This makes it easier for them to stay the course. Their base continues to organize and fulminate even after midterm defeats. Democrats, on the other hand, are less organized. Electoral defeats tend to fracture and dissipate whatever organization they have.

Republicans are cynical about politics from the jump. Political cynicism fuels them. Democrats are idealistic about politics. When they become cynical they tend to drop out.

If you’ve studied, you know that there’s a difference between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, based on socioeconomic and educational standing – and if you haven’t studied, you might be more inclined to take me at my word.  Candidate Obama had a point when he said that people stick to their guns and religion; what he didn’t mention is that other people stick to their education and their books.  That’s a dichotomy.

In general, Democrats look at the big picture – how can I help my neighbor – and Republicans look at a different picture.  I would guess, and I hope I’m not biased, that  Republicans often  look for short-term, immediate, satisfaction and Democrats look at the long-term possibilities of getting to the same place – trying to achieve the same end – as Republicans.  Trying to reach the same place, in a different way, and often unable to see that the final intent is the same.

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From → Politics, US Politics

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