Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Political Confusion

While I await my colleagues further response, I would like to make a comment on what he terms cognitive dissonance -- i.e. the stronger tendency of Republicans to toe the line on matters of party doctrine. Having attended Swarthmore for 4 years, I am familiar with having been told what to think, and with having been attacked for having a particular interpretation of The Tempest (during which my upper-middle class white heterosexual professor actually called me "The Man" and not in the flattering way). While I cannot deny, having seen no evidence either way, that some Republicans may spout the party line because they have been inculcated to the party's beliefs, I view such ideological loyalty differently.
In short, I am willing to toe the line because I recognize what my colleague has already acknowledged -- American political parties are most electorally successful when they keep their collective action problems to a minimum. I toe the party line on almost all issues not because it is always my personal belief, but because in the Republican's electoral success I see the best chance of political success on the greatest number of issues about which I care.
If that sounds familiar, it should. It has been suggested throughout our history, most recently by former President Clinton as the reason why the New Democrats and old-line liberals needed to band together to oppose Republicans. They failed to heed his advice, and as a result the Republicans gained control in 1994. I will end with this rhetorical question: From a policy perspective, do you think those old-line liberals who refused to support Clinton in 1993 were happier with the state of government then, or now?

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