Philosophical Conservatism and Operational Liberalism

by John Holbo on October 15, 2012

Kevin Drum noticed the same bit of this Ezra Klein piece that I did:

At this point, Romney and Obama are running almost perfectly opposite campaigns. Romney can tell you exactly what he wants to do, but barely a word about how he’ll do it. Obama can’t describe what he wants to achieve, but he can tell you everything about how he’ll get it done. It’s a campaign without real policies against a campaign lacking a clear vision.

Klein asks: when did Obama lose ‘the vision thing’? He thinks Obama had it in 2008, but it’s worth considering the counter-hypothesis that it was lost long before. Free and Cantril documented loss of liberal mojo in their 1967 book, based on survey data from the 1964 election. ‘Americans are philosophical conservatives but operational liberals.’ If that’s how it goes in 2012, that just goes to show how it goes, for the past half century. [click to continue…]