Thursday, January 14, 2016

Republicans, Democrats, and Ideology

Interesting piece by Ezra Klein about how Republicans and Democrats are different. He starts from a piece that arose when MSNBC asked its reporters who had been covering the Republican and Democratic primaries to switch roles. One wrote:
I was caught off guard by how specific and personal Democratic voters’ issues tended to be. One woman told me she had lost a job because she had to take care of a sick relative and wanted paid family leave. Another woman told me her insurance stopped covering a certain medication that had grown too expensive and she liked how Clinton and Sanders talked about lowering drug prices. One man told me his wages were stagnant at his hotel job and he was looking for policies to increase them.

"We’re talking about bread-and-butter issues," Phyllis Thede, an Iowa state representative backing Clinton, told me when I asked about her constituents’ top concerns.

By contrast, Republican voters tend to be excited by more abstract issues: One of the most common answers I get from Cruz voters when I ask about their leading concern is "the Constitution." There are fewer "I have a specific problem in my own life, and I’d like the government to do x about it" responses.
Klein says this effects politics at the highest levels:
Democrats tend to project their preference for policymaking onto the Republican Party — and then respond with anger and confusion when Republicans don't seem interested in making a deal. Republicans tend to assume the Democratic Party is more ideological than it is, and so see various policy initiatives as part of an ideological effort to remake America along more socialistic lines.
Obviously there is much more to contemporary ideology than this; for example, many Democrats are committed to the abstract principles of peace and racial justice. But I do have the impression that in America conservatives are more ideological than liberals. Take, for example, my own attitude toward health care. What I want is for everybody to get the care that he or she needs, without financial hardship. I care not a fig whether this is done by the government, private insurance companies, or Martians. I tend to think that a single payer system would do this best, but I am perfectly open to private schemes like the ones in Switzerland and Singapore, provided they are universal. But many Republicans have responded to Obamacare just as Klein says, as a sort of plot to make America a more socialist place where people rely more on the government and less on themselves. Many Republicans would say that while universal care is a worthy goal, it is not worth sacrificing the principle of independence to get it.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

So basically Democrats tend to have practical real-life concerns, while Republicans tend to care more about rhetoric and vague imaginings?

...didn't we already know this?