Jewish World Review Dec. 16, 2011/ 20 Kislev, 5772
Wedging both ways
By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Wedge issues are back.
What are wedge issues? Well, a lot depends on whom you ask. Political consultants usually define them as issues that unite the base but split the opposition. The most familiar examples are guns, God and gays. But they can include everything from the Pledge of Allegiance to crime.
Traditionally, conservatives are cast as the villains in the wedge-issue story. And there's some truth to the tale. What initially offended liberals was the way Republicans made race and civil rights issues for national discussion (ironic considering how liberals are always clamoring for a "national conversation" on race). Liberals will tell you that Republicans shattered the consensus on civil rights by running on racially charged issues. Conservatives will say that liberals invited a so-called "racial backlash" by going too far on issues like quotas and being soft on crime.
I think conservatives have the better argument in that fight, but that doesn't mean Republican politicians were angels in every contest.
Regardless, it didn't take long for Democrats to expand the definition of wedge issues to include pretty much any issue they didn't want to talk about.
In his book "What's the Matter with
President Obama subscribes to a similar view of the world, as when he explained that Democratic (!) voters in western
Looked at from a broad historical perspective, complaints about wedge issues are really gripes about declining liberal power. Democrats take it as a given that the old
This is ridiculous, of course. First of all, democracy itself is about disagreement, not agreement. Politics is about having arguments about what our priorities should be. It is inevitable that there will be winners and losers in those arguments.
Moreover, Democrats have always used wedge issues just as much as Republicans. Indeed, the Obama administration is a round-the-clock wedge issue machine. Obama's whole economic agenda at this point is hinged on dividing America between the haves and the have-nots. Rhetorically, he defines the haves as "millionaires and billionaires." But his policies set the benchmark lower -- households that make
That's why I love the Republican effort to turn the tables on Obama. The
Tellingly, a senior
In short, Obama hates the pipeline deal because it is both symbolically and concretely an issue that drives a wedge straight through his base and his re-election spin.
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