The Virtues of Tribalism

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Jamelle Bouie argues that conservatives are against some things simply because liberals are for them. His examples: Common Core; lightbulb regulations; green-energy mandates; and mass-transit subsidies.  Bouie overstates his case, omitting mention of the longstanding conservative skepticism about regulations, mandates, and subsidies. (He also ignores the possibility that liberals sometimes oppose things because conservatives are for them.) But let’s say he’s right about how and why conservatives came to oppose these things. Since most of them are bad ideas, then an irrational psychological impulse has led them to the right conclusion. And maybe not even that irrational. If these are the best examples Bouie has, then it seems as though liberals tend to be for a lot of bad ideas, and being on the opposite side is a shortcut to sense.

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