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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Washington Post Thinks That Congress is Made Up of Philosophers

The Washington Post Thinks That Congress is Made Up of Philosophers

Tuesday, 28 June 2011 05:11

A Washington Post article on the budget negotiations told readers that the battle over the budget:

"has set off an ideological battle across the Capitol."

It is not clear why anyone would think that members of Congress care about ideology. These are politicians who hold their jobs based on their ability to appeal to powerful interest groups, not their ability to espouse political philosophy. It is reasonable to assume that their stances on the budget involve appeals to these interest groups, some of whom are anxious to avoid higher taxes and some of whom value the government programs that could be cut. There is no reason to assume that ideology has anything to do with this dispute.

Comments (6)Add Comment
written by izzatzo, June 28, 2011 6:28
It depends on the meaning of is.

If is is is then it's philosophy.

If is is not is then it's ideology.

If is is is and not is simultaneously then it's politics.
aristotle would chuckle
written by frankenduf, June 28, 2011 8:16
that was pretty sweet, isthatso :)
written by diesel, June 28, 2011 11:55
" There is no reason to assume that ideology has anything to do with this dispute" were it not for the fact that politicians cloak their "appeal to powerful interest groups" in popularly-accepted but little-examined notions. And though they may not consciously "espouse political philosophy", their stand on such issues as the "value" of "government" and the legitimacy of "higher taxes" implies an "ideological" substructure.

But maybe you're saying that politicians are analogous to prostitutes who sell themselves to the highest bidder. And that one could no more infer that politicians "care about ideology" than they could infer that a prostitute enjoys sex with strangers. Seems reasonable.
It's Not About Ideology
written by Donald Pretari, June 28, 2011 1:21
I couldn't agree more. In fact, all the Economists I read are Liberals. There are differences, but they aren't major ideological ones, except to the extent that Ideological is used my me to mean averse to facts or nuances.
It is about ideology, but so what.
written by ohwilleke, June 28, 2011 3:00
Ideology, which is a stylized set of political positions shared by a group is very much what politicians do, and very much not what philosophers do. Ideology explains political behavior more accurately than special interest politics; otherwise, state delegations wouldn't so often split along party lines (particularly in partisanly divided Senate seats).

But "an ideological battle" in the Capitol is like a cloudy day in Seattle. An unremarkable dog bites man story.
written by Jay, June 28, 2011 4:12
Semantics. I don't understand how any major political party can be considered economically competent. The media has been totally comprised by special interests and political pundits that are all froth. The debate is not about cutting back. Rather it's about distribution. Who deserves what. Lives are being used as bargaining chips to accumulate donations and IOUs for personal benefit than the general welfare of the public.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.