"The Art of the Possible"

A reader of Andrew Sullivan’s blog writes in to him, saying:

“I just had a revelation that may seem obvious, but I think I now really understand the difference between liberals and conservatives. The former perpetually live in the 1960s… while the latter live perpetually in the 1970s…

How can we move both groups into the 1980s and 1990s, when both sides accepted a lot of what was right about what the other side had to say?… Why is it that the history of 40-50 years ago seems to impact on people’s thinking so much more than the history of 20-30 years ago that ought to be fresher in their minds?”

It’s a good point, but here’s my answer: both sides didn’t “accept” what the other side said, they merely made necessary compromises. The 1970s and especially the ’60s are when the conservative and liberal parties we know today first emerged, and hence it is there that we may see them in their purest forms.

As for why they don’t compromise–well, nobody likes to see the pure form diluted, do they? And this makes sense, because it’s standard negotiating practice to ask for more than what you actually expect to get.

What's your stake in this, cowboy?