Partisan Differences Are Rarely "Petty"
"So often political pundits and journalists speak of the political divide in America as if it were the difference between vanilla and chocolate. Every divide is due to, we are told, “petty partisan differences” (with emphasis on the petty) which we are lectured to lay aside. This kind of rhetoric gives the impression that political visions are not coherent sets of principles, but giant bundles of discrete policy preferences that can be accepted or disregarded on mere whim. “I’m fiscally conservative, but socially liberal,” people often say. This assumes that there is nothing that unites liberal or conservative views of money and morals, no coherent worldview that binds the two together. But political issues are not a cluster of individual trees; they are a forest full of interlocking, networked roots. The partisan divide is not simply one of “petty partisan differences” (although it can be); it is more often a collision of entire worldviews.