ASSYMETRICAL WARFARE. I...

ASSYMETRICAL WARFARE. I wanted to highlight something Ezra passed along from the breakfast with Grover Norquist: "The left, he argued, shouldn't seek to simply mimeograph the right's structure -- CAP for Heritage, Media Matters for Media Research Council, etc. 'You don't have to have the same weapons in politics because both aren't structured the same.'" When you think about it, this seems both obvious, important, and unduly neglected. And it goes beyond institutions -- the progressive and conservative coalitions in America simply aren't mirror images of one another, and so while there are obviously lessons to be learned from looking at the right's rise, you can't simply imitate things that worked for conservatives and hope they work for liberals.

In his Los Angeles Times column yesterday, Jon Chait dealt with an important example: "Conservatives venerate the free market and see smaller government as an end in itself. Liberals do not venerate government in the same way, and we do not see larger government as an end in and of itself." Thus, while conservative thinking on economics can be summed up with a quick-and-easy slogan ("small government"), liberals not only don't have an equivalently brief formulation, but we can't find one unless we decide to become Communists ("collective ownership of the means of production") -- the actual idea is just harder to summarize without becoming extremely vague.

Indeed, I've become sufficiently enthusiastic about this Norquistian pearl of wisdom that I'm tempted to uncork an obscenely long post on the subject, but I'll demur and perhaps write it up in a more organized manner later.

--Matthew Yglesias

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