Ideological sorting

In the course of a column on a recent Medicare bill, Michael Gerson observes that in the not-too-distant-past there were liberal Republicans (in the northeast) and conservative Democrats (in the past).  Back then, lawmakers could form coalitions with kindred spirits across the aisle to pass legislation.  But now both parties have undergone “ideological sorting,” so that Democrats are virtually all liberal and Republicans are virtually all conservative.  Thus, votes are along party lines, and the only hope of advancing an agenda is to win a big enough majority to steamroll the other party.  This is why, he says, our politics is so polarizing and it is so difficult to get legislation passed.

Read what Mr. Gerson says after the jump and consider the questions I raise. [Read more...]

Everybody’s a populist

Just about everybody in politics is claiming to be a “populist” these days–leftwinger Elizabeth Warren, rightwinger Ted Cruz, establishment icon Hillary Clinton, the Christian right’s Mike Huckabee, Occupy Wallstreeters, Tea Partiers, and on and on.

Rutgers history professor David Greenberg points out that the term once had a very specific meaning, relating to the farmer/labor coalition against the railroads and bankers in the late 19th century,  as led by William Jennings Bryan.  The ideology combined a type of socialist economics (nationalize the railroads!) with respect for “ordinary” Americans (a man of the people! champion of the common man!).  Today liberals are seizing upon the economic part (while comprising the cultural elite that the old populists scorned), while conservatives are seizing upon the ordinary American part (a demographic that today tends not to like socialism).

But this reminds us that the left owes a big debt to William Jennings Bryan, today often mocked for his creationism at the Scopes Monkey Trial.  And that there was a time when evangelical Christians were often leftists. [Read more...]

Anti-science liberals

Democrats are reviving the notion that “conservatives are anti-science!”  But what about the anti-science stance of liberals when it comes to abortion, genetically-modified foods, fracking, and environmental apocalypse?  And did you know that far more Democrats than Republicans believe in astrology, flying saucers, fortune telling, and New Age medicine?  David Harsanyi and Ian Tuttle both make that case, after the jump. [Read more...]

Woes of both the public and the private sectors

Conservatives are skeptical about the government and look to the private sector to solve our problems.  Liberals are skeptical about the private sector and look to the government for solutions.  Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers says that our problem is that BOTH the public sector AND the private sector are dysfunctional. [Read more...]

Liberal culture & conservative culture

A new Pew study of the political polarization in this country has found some distinct cultural differences between liberals and conservatives.  Read about it after the jump, where I also offer some observations and propose something for us to discuss. [Read more...]

The Democrats’ billionaires

As Democrats demonize the Koch brothers for donating money to conservatives, their own billionaires are getting organized to make the most of their political donations. [Read more...]


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