Jonah Goldberg expertly explains the vast and highly visible chasm between the two parties when it comes to fundamental principles, on National Review Online. Republicans are driven by issues, while Democrats are driven by feelings based on group identity.
[The Democrats'] debate is almost entirely theoretical, drowned out by the mad scramble to assemble an identity-politics coalition of generic "Hispanics," "blacks," "white women," etc. It's amazing how complacent the media is in carrying on with this kind of nakedly reductionist analysis. The notion that Hispanics may be voting one way or another for reasons other than their ethnicity seems never to come up.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, women, blacks and Hispanics vote too, but that's not how the demographics and coalitions of the right work. GOP candidates actually have to win over people who believe things. (After all, the famed, and tragically frayed, "Reagan coalition" was about different groups of principled people, not a mere hodgepodge of ethnicities and genders.) Exit pollsters ask GOP voters whether they're committed pro-lifers, whether they think the economy is the most important issue, etc. I'm sure they ask Democratic voters similar questions, but it's telling how little we hear about that. What Democratic voters actually believe doesn't seem to be that relevant, in large part because Democrats aren't voting their beliefs, they're voting affections.
This election cycle, the GOP has an opportunity to prove this difference to a larger group of voters than in the past, for the bitter battle on the Democrats' side will expose the ugly truth about the party's genuine operating principles.Hat tip: Lucianne.com