In a two party system such as ours, there are predicable patterns of conflict between left & right. Common differences are indeed inevitable, and even necessary. But the same old patterns of thinking, behaving and reacting — in all too predictable ways — often serve to short circuit constructive debate and prevent real progress. There are number of myths that each side holds on to tightly; to help define themselves and demonize the other side. Deeply rooted “us” vs. “them” thinking does not serve the greater good.
Myth 1: Conservatives / Republicans don’t care about the poor. Unfortunately, our country is now in a place where 1 in 7 Americans are poor. More than 40 million of our fellow citizens are in desperate need of a better life. The vast majority of the Right cares about these folks just as much as everyone else. The difference is that they believe the best way to help the poor is to provide opportunities to succeed, largely through the free market. At some point you either take steps to improve your life, or you don’t. There are merits to “self help” and “though love” approaches in many instances that produce effective results. These are seldom “mean spirited.”
Myth 2: Liberals / Democrats love big government. Free enterprise and the market economy has been incredibly important to development and prosperity of this country since the industrial revolution. Often, this force is the most efficient provider of goods, services, and is the engine of growth. But almost all can acknowledge that the free market is far from perfect, and full of holes. In certain cases, government regulation and government-led solutions allow democracy to keep to the free markets working optimally for the needs of the many. To claim that the Left looks to big government to solve every problem ignores the limits of the free market and is a drastic oversimplification.