March 8, 2017

hISTORY eNDED; WHAT IS THERE TO DISAGREE ABOUT?:

Trump era's vicious partisanship born of small differences (Jonah Goldberg, March 7, 2017 | USA Today)

Consider Trump. His position on trade, his signature issue, represents not a sharp break from the left, but a closing of the gap with it. Protectionism and "fair trade" have been staples of the Democratic Party's base for a very long time, which is why both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Likewise on infrastructure spending and entitlement reform, Trump hasn't staked out some extreme libertarian stance, he's stolen the issues from Democrats. Just look at health care. The GOP just unveiled their plan to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. It's likely no Democrat in the House will vote for it, not because of its radicalism, but because it is an insult to Barack Obama's legacy. I can understand their frustration, but their anger isn't proof of a major ideological disagreement.

And this points to the source of the confusion. There is a natural human tendency to believe that those we hate must believe the opposite of what we believe. This is part of what psychologists call "the narcissism of small differences."

George W. Bush campaigned on "compassionate conservatism," triangulating against the libertarian rhetoric of (the old) Newt Gingrich and the dour pessimism of social conservatives. His first legislative priority was bipartisan education reform, supported by Ted Kennedy. Bush's prescription drug benefit constituted the largest expansion in entitlements since the Great Society (at least until Obamacare). He rejected the conservatism of William F. Buckley, arguing that, "When somebody hurts, government has to move."

And for these sins, Democrats instantly and continuously insisted he was some kind of radical.

Before Bush, Republicans denounced Bill Clinton as a left-wing extremist, even though he was a free trader, supported the death penalty and campaigned on -- and signed -- welfare reform.

Posted by at March 8, 2017 4:31 AM

  

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