The Two Party System at Work
This is a tentative sketch subject to revision. Suggestions encouraged.
Liberals: X is a problem, and the government should do Y1 about it.
Voters: Yeah, X is a problem, but conservatives make good points about how Y1 isn’t the answer.
Liberals: X is an even bigger problem than before, and the government should do Y2 about it.
Conservatives: Opposition to Y1 was a winning issue for us five years ago. It’s probably smart to oppose Y2.
Voters: Overall we’re still with you, conservatives, but by a lesser margin, because this does sort of seem like a problem, yeah?
Liberals: X is an even bigger problem now. The solution Y3 is an urgent national priority.
Conservatives: The Founders would hate Y3. It’s European. In other words, socialist. Why doesn’t anyone care about how many people Mao killed?
Voters: Yeah, why doesn’t anyone care about how many people Mao killed? And Y3 is a flawed solution. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be any conservative alternative for addressing X. And we’re sorta worried about X.
Liberals: We’re campaigning on Y3B. And you don’t even care about X.
Conservatives: We do so care about X. Look at this white paper from Heritage!
Voters: We’re divided on this issue, but the growing number of us who think it’s a problem trust the liberals more because it has never seemed like the conservative movement actually cared about addressing it, so much as opposing efforts to address it. Even when Reihan Salam and Ramesh Ponnuru and Ross Douthat proposed what seemed like very smart ideas for reform, they were basically chastised by some talk radio hosts and ignored by the whole right-of-center political establishment, which took advantage of the political landscape for short term electoral gain.
Liberals: We’re putting YC3 to a vote, and the American people support us enough to get it passed.
Conservatives: Rather than negotiate, we’re going to just oppose this outright. The people passing it are basically radical socialists. Anyone who compromises with them is a traitor.
Voters: Gee, we’d be more comfortable if this bill was improved by conservative insights. We’d maybe even prefer a totally different approach to reform if we’d been educated about one over a sustained period. On the other hand, maybe the liberals are right that this is necessary? We’re going to uneasily cross our fingers.
Liberals: Yay! We won! Also, yikes, we hope this goes over okay.
Conservatives: This is a catastrophic disaster. You’ll pay for it in November. Yay!
Voters: What contempt we have for all of you. Especially those of you currently in Congress.
Liberals: I know we’re in the minority now. But Z is a real problem. The government should do something about it.
Conservatives: We’re back in power!! Did you here how excited Rush was today about this huge victory for our side? What’s that? You said something about Z? We’re going to ignore you. What could go wrong? We’ve probably got a permanent majority now anyway. Right of center nation and all that.
Voters: How about some tax cuts? And no new wars, please?