Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Difference Between an Ideologue and a Partisan

In a post ostensibly about the difference between denialism and plain old ignorance, Kevin Beck also gives a good example of the difference between an ideologue and a partisan:

Gribbit: "First the obvious. Those in charge in Washington are tax happy. They've never seen a tax proposal they haven't liked."

Beck: "Of course. But if you read the post Gribbit wrote six hours after churning out this one, you'll see him complaining that Obama is promising tax cuts; rather than express relief, he calls this 'hypocrisy.' Gribbit and his ilk never leave any doubt that they care very little, if at all, about the actual fate of the country; they just want to vent their spleens, consistency be damned.'

This is too common in American political discourse. Partisans have turned our process into a sporting event, with 2/3 of the population like Gribbit, rooting for their side. Someone with an ideological difference on an issue will cheer when their opponent changes to an agreeable position. "Welcome to the fold, what took you so long?" is the appropriate response, not to play the "hypocrite" game. The majority GOP reaction to Obama's decision to not use public funds was a perfect example. Only a partisan Republican would condemn their opponent for changing to a pro-marketplace position. A free market advocate would cheer the move.

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