Digby, in an aptly titled post, lays it out:
The bipartisan elite consensus that governs this country is quite simple. First, deficits and high taxes are always the basic cause of economic stress or the biggest threat facing a recovery, no matter the circumstances. (The corollary is that cutting taxes and spending are the ultimate answer to every economic challenge.) Taxes on the wealthy (excuse me “the most productive”) must be kept as low as possible, the military cannot be subject to any budgetary constraint and the national security state cannot be held accountable, business and industry must always be given top priority and all other government expenditures are legislative bargaining chips regardless of their impact on the lives of average Americans. Nobody questions that consensus or even suggests that some other set of priorities might be useful from time to time.
This goes a long way towards explaining why I disdain anyone who understands politics only through a left/right or Dem/Repub lens; a far more useful lens is that of power – who has, what they decide to do with it, and how that relates to what happens to the rest of us. Digby, here, is laying out the understanding of the world as shared by the power elites, who come from both major parties.
Second, I think that this is the consensus of the power elites suggests that ‘conservatives’ have been far more successful in moving conventional wisdom in the last two decades than any other group, especially any group that could generously be labeled liberal. To wit: what Digby describes above is basically Milton Friedman’s wet dream with lots of guns. (Which, to be fair to Friedman, is a bit redundant. He loved guns.) That this understanding of the world, if enacted, will result in a tremendous amount of pain and suffering – well, as Digby points out, “actual impact” is really not that important to the group that holds this view, because they will only be positively affected by this crap being implemented. Look at the wealth transfer of the last decade.
None of this is to say, by the way, that political parties don’t matter at all. Of course they do, but only to an extent. They are not the end of American politics; they are only the entertainment for the hoi polloi, constrained to pick between a list of narrow, pre-defined choices that don’t disrupt the political world of the elites. Don’t believe me? Look at what’s happening on health care reform in regards to both single-payer and now the public option.