POLITICAL convictions are not systematically rational. Mine aren’t. Yours aren’t. We all hold self-contradictory convictions at any given moment. Our fundamental principles play out in different ways in different situations, until they ultimately come into conflict with each other. Our tribal political affiliations lead us to defend personalities or policies that we ought, based on our principles, to condemn. I support massive cuts in America’s defence budget and am opposed to adventurism and sceptical of attempts to spread Western values by force, yet a set of other moral principles and political allegiances meant that I found myself this year defending NATO’s confused intervention in Libya. That’s life.
So it’s not really so surprising that a lot of people who went to tea-party rallies and voted Republican in the 2010 elections were fervently opposed to cuts to Medicare and Social Security. And it’s not surprising that, as AEI’s Henry Olson writes in National Review Online, those people seem to have played a particularly large role in defeating Republican candidate Jane Corwin in New York’s historically Republican 26th district, and handing the district to Democrat Kathy Hochul. As Jonathan Chait (courtesy of his Twitter buddy Robert Christian) points out, these pro-entitlement, anti-government voters fit the profile the Pew political typology calls “the Disaffecteds”: