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Ideology vs. Outcomes

6

In a column about the difficulties the Republicans find themselves in, Mike Rosen asserts:

Two-thirds of voters may reliably support either Republican or Democratic candidates, but the other third goes either way. Most of them have no loyalty to parties, coalitions or philosophies. They just want nice outcomes and they want them now! And it’s they who decide elections. When the party in power can’t deliver, they try the other party.

To make sure we fully understand what regard he holds these members of the electorate, Rosen later refers to them as “discontented, gullible swing voters.”

But I have to ask, what’s so wrong with caring more about outcomes than ideology? Most Americans just want a functioning government that manages the economy well, that provides reliable services and that keeps us safe. Does it really matter if those ends are achieved through big government liberalism or small government conservativism? To a lot of people, it doesn’t.

Ideologues believe their way is the only acceptable way. If they fail, it’s a matter of internal corruption (we’re not conservative/liberal enough!) or external perfidy (the conservatives/liberals are deceiving the voters!). Somehow this is supposed to be a wiser approach than simply voting for whoever has the idea that seems most likely to work right now.

There’s room for ideology in politics. In fact, it’s essential to the development of grand ideas. However, there’s just as much room for (and legitimacy to) voting based on which candidate or party will most competently manage the government. Sneering at swing-voters for not “getting it” is just puerile. If that’s the best conservatives like Rosen can do then they are headed for quite the defeat.