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November 17, 2002

Conventional Wisdom Admits Partisan Divide

The conventional wisdom is finally admitting what I've been harping on for a long time, namely that far from the parties converging on policies, they are far more polarized on partisan issues than ever in the recent past. See here:

But the fact remains that the Congressional wings of both parties have grown further apart, particularly as the South has realigned to the Republicans over the last three decades, thinning the ranks of conservative Southern Democrats on Capitol Hill. Party unity scores, a measure of how often members vote with the majority of their party, were substantially higher in recent years than they were 30 years ago, according to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly. The philosophical divisions between the two parties are acutely apparent when the debate turns to issues like the role of government and health care.
With Pelosi and Delay facing off in the House, the idea that political parties in the US have few differences is just exposed for the canard it has been for a long time. In fact, parties in Europe are far more similar in their policies to one another than the two big US parties are.

This is a basic civics lesson that people really need to repeat. It's the filibuster, stupid. As long as it takes 60 votes to pass any major legislation, it means that a false consenus on policy is imposed on passing legislation. Whether you think this is good or bad, don't mistake a structural constraint for an ideological one.

Posted by Nathan at November 17, 2002 12:22 PM

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Your comparison between Pelosi and DeLay is well taken. But even simpler is the obvious fact that there are major differences between members of the same party. Ideologically, DeLay and Chafee are simply worlds apart. This notion shouted by the Greens and perpetuated by too many bland politicians who say the same thing but vote differently ("No, I'm more for the War on Terorism", "No, I am!") could not be more off the mark, and my suspicion is that in two years it will have been completely disproven.

Your site's great, keep up the good work.

Posted by: Ezra at November 18, 2002 12:27 AM

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