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Apr. 7 2010 - 12:16 pm | 87 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Politics: Not About Ideas

Politics isn’t about what you think it’s about. Matt Yglesias:

To borrow an idea from Robin Hanson, I think it’s useful to think about political conflict in terms of valorized figures. On the right, you see a lot of valorization of businessmen. On the left, you see a lot of valorization of pushy activists who want to do something businessmen don’t like. Formally, the right is committed to ideas about free markets and the left is committed to ideas about economic equality. But in practice, political conflict much more commonly breaks down around “some stuff some businessmen want to do” vs “some stuff businessmen hate” rather than anything about markets or property rights per se. Consequently, on the left people sometimes fall into the trap of being patsies for rent-seeking mom & pop operators when poor people would benefit more from competition from a corporate bohemoth.

(I’m not correcting the typos, because that would be inauthentic.)

We like to think our politics are rational and that they spring from deeply held beliefs. More often, we’re routing for one team or another, and often that’s just based on aesthetic factors — do we like underdogs or do we like the Yankees?


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    About Me

    I'm a freelance writer and blogger based in Brooklyn, NY. My background is mostly in politics. I've worked on the editorial boards of the New York Sun and New York Post. In 2006, I wrote a book, "The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party" (Wiley). I've also done my share of freelancing, for places like the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Reason, and RealClearPolitics.

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