It is very interesting to me how the political world is round and not flat. If you talk to people about politics, or if you watch the political talk shows, you would think that philosophies are diametrically opposed. In fact, I find there are more similarities in viewpoints as conversations progress than not.
In college, I wrote a paper about the differences between conservatives and Libertarians. In some respects, conservatives have similarities to liberal Democrats in that they both see a larger role for government in the regulation of behavior. Libertarians view of government circles the political globe and nearly reaches anarchy.
I pointed out in that old college paper that while liberal Democrats like to use the tax code to regulate spending by individuals, so do conservatives in some instances. For example: Phyllis Schlafley, an icon of the conservative movement, had advocated for an increase in the exemption for dependents, arguing that it had not kept up with inflation and therefore had an impact on how many children couples were having.
The tax code is used as a tool to promote all kinds of things. Some of the opponents of flat tax proposals are concerned with the myriad of exclusions and deductions that would be eliminated if such a proposal were ever enacted. The Realtors would oppose elimination of the mortgage interest deduction because of the effect it might have on the valuation of homes. It is estimated that the deduction adds 20 percent to the value of a home. This is an indirect effect that occurs as a result of market forces.
Foreign policy is always a favorite when it comes to finding common philosophical ground. When the military is used to force order or, regime change takes place, the liberal Democrats are up in arms. No pun intended. When liberal Democrats use Foreign aid programs to push societal changes, that seems to be OK. Both, however, are interventionist policies but using different tools.
In politics, it is all about finding some consensus. In a democracy that is relatively easy to do, but as they say, it is a messy business. A lot like watching the butcher makes sausages. If you talk to someone whom you think has a polar opposite view of things that are political, eventually those views come around the globe, and you find that you may not be so far apart after all.
Jim Thacker is a political consultant and columnist.
From the July 27-Aug. 2, 2005, issue