Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Politics Grid

My oldest son asked me a good question a number of weeks ago: "what is the difference between Democrats and Republicans." I thought about it for a minute and gave him my views in terms of this grid.

It seems to me that we can define our political stance by asking ourselves two questions:

  1. Do we think most people are inherently good or bad?

  2. Do we think most people are generally smart or dumb?

If you think that most people are generally good and smart, then you are a Libertarian. You think that the best outcome is that we should have a really small government so that all the good and smart people can do the right thing. We don't have a lot of Libertarians. It could be because not many people think that most people are good... or not many people think most people are smart. Most Libertarians that I come across seam sort of selfish, so I wonder if most
Libertarians simply think that they are good and smart and to heck with everyone else.

If you think that most people are dumb and bad, then you are a Fascist. The best possible outcome is found through controlling the dumb, evil public. We don't have a lot of Fascists around either... for which we are all thankful.

If you think that most people are generally smart, but if left to their own selfish desires they'll do bad things, then you are a Republican. We (yes we) think that you need enough government to keep us all honest, but that we're smart enough to help ourselves. That's why, for example, we believe in free markets. Build a free system with as few controls as possible and market forces will provide good solutions because the people in the market are generally smart and will make good choices.

If you think that most people are generally good but are just not all that smart, then you are a Democrat. You think that good people aren't reaching their potential because they haven't been given sufficient opportunities to let their goodness shine. You think that people just need more help from a few smart people (you, of course, likely consider yourself to be one of those few smart people).

This view leads me to all sorts of observations... here are just a few:

  • When Democrats blow it, they rationalize; when Republicans blow it, they resign.

  • Republican politicians generally don't present themselves as better or smarter than their constituents; Democrats often portray themselves as better and smarter.

I'll probably write some more along these lines in the coming days... what do you think? What is wrong with this approach? What am I missing?