Republicans have an astounding level of ideological unity and a keen understanding of the political dynamics at work. Most Republicans agree on the big things — tax cuts are always good, regulation is always bad, and the more belligerent the better — and those that don’t are still able to see the utility in being a team player; if Democrats lose, the party wins, and the potential naysayers gain (or at least, avoid losing, in the form of a primary challenge or poor committee assignment).[…]
Unfortunately, I’m not sure that there’s anything you can do about this. Part of what makes the Democratic Party a “natural” governing party is that it is broad-based; there is room for virtually anyone who wears the label.
I agree that the Democratic party is a better governing party than the Republican party. But what makes it a better governing party (and in some ways a worse purely political agent) is not that it is broad-based, it’s the thing that causes it to be broad-based. And that thing is a modicum of belief in empiricism and reason.
Republicans all agree on the “big things”, because they accept the big things as givens in a way that Democrats can’t accept much of anything as a given. The Democratic approach to taxation is that if we keep taxes at 0% for income under 30K and 43% for over 250K and so on then we can have a good economy where middle class people can get by; taxation itself is neither good nor bad, it’s something that we need to fund the government and you can jigger with this or that to make the rates as optimal as possible, using different metrics. The Republican approach is taxes are bad, that’s what the original Tea Party was about, Milton Friedman opposed all taxation (not true), and if we proceed from Hayekian principles….
It’s easy to be cohesive when your ideas are reductionist, and difficult when you are haggling about decimal points. Furthermore, the very act of haggling about decimal points (which to me is *exactly* the basis for all sound government) can be easily attacked from various pseudo-intellectual viewpoints: Bobo says it is hubris to think we can estimate things so well, etc.
Contemporary Democratism/liberalism is empirical/pragmatic and therefore fussy/complicated, contemporary Repblicanism/conservatism is reductionist and therefore simple. Conservative would-be intellectuals —
Andrew Sullivan (corrected, he’s actually good about this), Bobo, David Frum — are perfectly happy to wank about some dumb thing some teatard said on CNN, but they’re completely unwilling to admit that contemporary American conservatism makes no attempt to base itself in any kind of independently verifiable reality.
Pundits like to talk about courage of conviction, but what the hell does that mean when the convictions are no more than superstitions?