It’s interesting to consider that there may be Nothing New Under The Sun –that the problems of the moment have been around once, twice, many times before, in slightly different guises, and that it might just be worth our while to look to historical precedents… if only we can somehow see past the panics of the moment, and develop a bit of perspective. So here’s Matthew Yglesias, commenting on a book about James Monroe and looking back 200 years, and making more sense to me than all the intemperate punditry I’m seeing:
Most voters, and many pundits, seem to …think, with a mixture of condescension and naivete, that policy problems have obvious answers. The failure of policymakers to converge on these obvious answers is attributed to partisanship and the assumption is that if people didn’t have nefarious partisan interests the solutions would be forthcoming. The reality is quite different. Policy problems are difficult and the machinery of government is complicated. You need some kind of organizing institutions to get disparate individuals to work together, and the parties disagree not only because they’re jo[c]keying for influence, but because serious people have principled differences of opinion about what we should do.
I see plenty of “nefarious partisan interests” with big bucks and loud mouths. What I wish I could see more evidence of is the “principled differences of opinion” of which he speaks.