April 28, 2011 Leave a comment
Chait brings the political science today in discussing the differences between liberals and conservatives. Though I’ve never followed it particularly closely, I’ve always enjoyed the cognitive(/integrative) complexity literature as a way for understanding political thinking. Here’s Chait:
Liberalism is forever in search of a philosophy that can fit on a bumper sticker. It’s always failing, because a philosophy of leaving the free market to work except in cases of market failure, and then attempting to determine which intervention best passes the cost-benefit test is never going to be simple…
Tetlock’s quote shows that the problem is endemic to center-left politicians in the contemporary American political spectrum, not necessarily Obama as a personality. Liberalism is a more complex ideology. That certainly dovetails with my sense. There’s a psychological equivalence between the certainty of left and right, but the midpoint of the mirror image does not happen to run right between the split between two parties. American politics today is a kind of one-and-a-half ideology system, with a Republican Party acting as the arm of a coherent conservative movement staunchly opposed to government, and a Democratic Party acting as a kind of catch-all for everybody who doesn’t accept the conservative agenda. It’s no coincidence that one party keeps producing leaders who think in simple ways, while the other keeps producing leaders who think in complicated ways.
Actually, there’s also a big excerpt from Dana Milbank I skipped, who once again shows he can actually be a really good journalist when he’s serious.