Cory Leonard

The Perils of Partisanship

In politics on December 1, 2010 at 6:43 am

A majority of Americans consider themselves to be moderates–hewing to pragmatism and good governance rather than ideology, party, or another “one best way” to govern. Perhaps there will be a political movement, such as Michael Bloomberg’s “No Labels” group aims to attain. In his NYT column, Ross Douthat effectively demonstrates the dilemma:

Up to a point, American politics reflects abiding philosophical divisions. But people who follow politics closely — whether voters, activists or pundits — are often partisans first and ideologues second. Instead of assessing every policy on the merits, we tend to reverse-engineer the arguments required to justify whatever our own side happens to be doing. Our ideological convictions may be real enough, but our deepest conviction is often that the other guys can’t be trusted.

Douthat proffers the type of examples (national security) that help to explain the appeal for moderation.  Policies between Bush 43 and Obama 44 on many areas have changed little–whether owing to our system of policy creation or that occasional fact that perhaps the policy was in the U.S. best interest and has thus been maintained.

On a personal level, partisanship can be unproductive–again, as Douthat zeroes in:

Is there anything good to be said about the partisan mindset? On an individual level, no. It corrupts the intellect and poisons the wells of human sympathy. Honor belongs to the people who resist partisanship’s pull, instead of rowing with it.

via The Partisan Mind –


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