Its the nature of the academic to try to avoid embarrassing ones self by exposing a premature idea. I am, however, trying to beat that back inorder to gain the insights of the blogosphere.
Here is just a simple data point in the direction of my thesis. From NYT
It is hard to find a tax cut that Congressional Republicans dislike. Unless it is a tax cut pushed by President Obama.
In a turning of the tax policy tables, Democrats are increasingly hammering on Republicans who oppose the president’s proposal to extend for a year a payroll tax cut passed last year with bipartisan support.
. . .
A spokesman for Grover Norquist, who as leader of Americans for Tax Reform is the author of a no-tax-increase pledge that scores of Congressional Republicans have signed, expressed ambivalence about the cut.
“One could argue that therefore allowing it to lapse was not a tax hike,” said John Kartch, a spokesman for the group. “But safer to either continue the lower rate or cut some other tax rate by the same total amount so that any change was revenue neutral.
One could say that this exposes the fact that Republican opposition to taxes is really an opposition to Progressive taxation. I say that it exposes the fact that Republican opposition to taxes is opposition to President Obama.
This is not to say the GOP is packed full of nihilists or such Obama hating rage that they will cut off their nose to spite their face. It is to say like all things they are the product of evolution.
In a Republican Democracy political parties survive and thrive because they are good at winning elections. That necessarily means they are good at causing other people to lose elections.
Importantly – from an evolutionary standpoint – it doesn’t matter what the election is over or who the other is. It only matters that you win.
Over time this will produce parties who simply do whatever is most convenient to win with no regard for any long term ideology. We are not quite there yet but we are moving in this direction.
Moreover, I reject the notion that what people want is their dignity as human beings respected by the political system. I think this is what the intelligentsia wants but as Tyler Cowen reminds us – envy is local.
What people want is to be respected by their friends and neighbors. To have children who are regarded with high status and who are protected from hunger, disease and exposure. Democracy is not necessary for any of this to happen.