April 5, 2010

Both sides are the same

Or so I keep hearing. I certainly hear it from conservatives when one of their own is caught in a lie. And on some points, I agree. I agree that politicians act like politicians--in that they often spin their approach to justify their actions. Most politicians promise the moon to get elected and then have difficulty keeping those promises. (I remember one prof saying that Polk was the only President who kept all his promises. He promised war with Mexico and delivered).

But back to both sides being the same. My conservative friends think that whatever radicalism or intransigence there is to the right--is reflected just as clearly on the left. Benen notes this phenomenon with a Paul Ryan misquote about liberals and government. Ryan quoted Barney Frank as wanting to increase the role of government on every front, when Frank only said that liberals were "trying in every front to increase the role of government in the regulatory area."

Benen notes that Ryan seems to assume that the left has the opposite goal of his own. But as Paul Krugman notes, "we are not mirror images."
"On the right, people are for smaller government as a matter of principle — smaller government for its own sake. And so they naturally imagine that their opponents must be their mirror image, wanting bigger government as a goal in itself.

But it’s not true. I don’t know any progressives who gloat over increases in the federal payroll or the government share of GDP. Progressives have things they want the government to do — like guaranteeing health care. Size per se doesn’t matter. But people on the right apparently can’t get that."
It is a very good point. People on the right want smaller government, even if that means that makes for worse policy, because they believe that small government is inherently superior. Liberals, on the other hand, are more pragmatic, or it certainly seems so in the modern era. We want certain policy ends, and if private means can get us there, that is fine.


Smitty said...

It goes hand-in-hand with their limited "black and white" world view. With us or against us. There is no gray...their whole movement is anti-pragmatic and based on a series of assumptions that, when held to the test of reality, fail. But they keep on 'em, by golly. Because to change your mind, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, is weakness.

steves said...

To some degree, I think it is a matter of perspective. As I have moved to a more centrist position over the years, I find myself getting pissed off at both sides. That being said, I am not saying I am super insightful or that both sides are equally stupid.