There Is No "Real Ideological Debate" Because Americans Share A Common Ideology

Matt Yglesias is confused:

The Phony Obamacare Debate Is Over; Time For The Real One

But the three factors together should end the phony war over Obamacare and let the real debate begin — not the debate over whether the program "works" but the debate over whether economic resources should be devoted to providing health insurance to people at the bottom of the income distribution or to providing tax cuts to people at the top.

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This is an excellent and important policy debate to have. One of the great ideological issues not just of our time and place, but of democratic politics across eras and countries. Should economic resources be distributed more equally or less equally?

My response (also emailed):

Matt,

Following up on my last email regarding the clear evidence that ideology is a poor category for describing the political behavior of Americans, I note that it's this misunderstanding that drives your post about "the real Obamacare debate".

You note that the fake debate has focused on the details and implementation of the program. This debate has been driven by Republican electeds whose obvious goal is re-election. If the electorate had an opinion about the abstract value of health care versus freedom, then that would be the language used by the self-interested politicians.

The fact that their rhetoric had focused on the details is clear evidence that Americans share a common ideology: government should act to give the poor greater opportunity when such aid can be distributed in a fair and cost-effective manner.

The great triumph of Reaganism is not convincing Americans that given the choice between meaningless suffering and accepting help from the government, the American thing to do is to go on suffering. No one believes that! What Reagan did was convince Americans that government was, by its very nature, incapable of helping people in a fair and cost effective way. Also, he pointed out, it frequently helps black people.

No amount of blather about Edmund Burke and the proper role of government can change the fact that what Reagan said (you were just a newborn), again and again, was: government always fucks up.

The debate about details isn't fake! It's politicians talking about what their constituents actually care about.