When it comes to the circus that is the modern day news cycle, the government shutdown has undoubtedly become the main attraction.
At the same time, an ever-popular sideshow attraction seems to be the saga of division within the Republican Party, presenting differences between Tea Party Republicans and John McCain moderates that people are silently hoping will turn ugly.
Many have lamented the unfavorable coverage of what seems like a divided political ideology on the right. I, on the other hand, welcome it.
A party rich with intellectual differences is both healthy and vibrant. Compromise within and without parties is a natural and productive exercise (a fact which it seems some in Washington have forgotten).
And, in fact, the focus on Republican differences does not mean that the left is a unified entity. Rather, the seeming unity of the Democratic Party is due to a lack of intellectual challenge to modern liberalism, a deficiency which is neither healthy nor productive.
The difference stems in many ways from the double-edged sword that is conservative talk radio. Men like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin are lambasted for their support of the right, and yet their criticism of certain elements of the Republican Party has provided all the fuel needed to stoke the “Republicans are divided” fire.
However, I prefer to view their criticism in a more favorable light: they provide the intellectual stimulation and critical analysis that ultimately results in a solid, logical political platform.
Liberals, on the other hand, have been largely left to their own devices. A lack of media scrutiny and internal analysis has allowed the left to present an ambiguous blob of ideas as a firm absolute. They have been allowed to equate misguided, unfounded ideas and programs with kindness and populism, and thus equate the liberal Democratic label with the notion of caring for the people.
The difference between the Republican and Democratic Party is therefore a difference in how the debate is framed. If voters must choose between what seems like a firmly established, ‘benevolent’ ideology and a fragmented, ‘evil’ one, they will obviously choose the former. Not because liberalism is better, but because it seems simpler.
And yet these citizens fail to realize that the simplicity of liberalism is its greatest weakness. A lack of internal criticism has allowed the Democratic Party to expand government power and influence unchecked. It does not solve problems, but rather exacerbates them. It is not emancipating, but rather enslaving.
For this reason, until people start to examine both sides with a critical eye, the fallacy of the caring liberal will remain. It is far too easy to establish a dichotomy of good and evil. A much more complicated and intellectual activity entails understanding the deeper meaning of issues and policies.
This is what the Republican Party is endeavoring to do, and maybe, just maybe, it will pay off in the long run. But first, it must survive this current crisis.