Republican debates promise to be messy affairs, with more than two dozen candidates spilling out to the margins of the frame. But this is fitting, and it should make Republicans proud.
Republicans have 14 candidates of all stripes — male and female; black, white, Indian, Hispanic; governors, CEOs, senators; from the Northeast, the South, the middle and the West; Tea Partiers, establishment types and dedicated moderates, a bachelor, some proud family men and a mom.
Democrats, meanwhile, seem to have only one serious contender — she was the second-place finisher last time, and she's the wife of a former president.
It all makes perfect sense. One side in America's political debate today values competition and pluralism. Another side believes in top-down centralized decision-making and pursues conformity of opinion.
It hasn't always been this way, and the Left still hangs on to the self-image of rowdy free-thinkers. But the facts tell a different story.
On economics, it's clear which side believes more in competition and which side is into top-down central-planning, with decisions made not by the people, but by the higher ups.
Obamacare was a great example of the Left's aversion to choice and competition.
First, there was the choice thing. While President Obama dishonestly promised Americans, again and again, that if they liked their plans they could keep them, the White House helped shape the law so as to cancel insurance plans that Team Obama disliked. "These were mostly lousy policies," was the White House justification for canceling plans, in the words of Steven Brill, the reporter who wrote the history of Obamacare.
Competition was also in Obamacare's crosshairs. It surprises no one that the raft of regulations, mandates and subsidies would lead to hospital consolidation. But it's important to remember that this wasn't an accidental side effect of the law — it was a deliberate aim of the bill's authors.
"They mistakenly believed that consolidation would be good for patients," my colleague Scott Gottlieb wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, "on the theory that larger companies would have more capital to invest in innovations that are thought to improve coordination of medical care, such as electronic health records, integrated teams of medical providers and telemedicine."
Competition and choice – those are just a waste of time and space in Obama's eyes. As he put it on Twitter in March: "We know what works. We know what we have to do. We've just got to put aside the stale and outmoded debates."
Good to know. That's a relief. Because debates, choice, competition — all that stuff was so tiring and confusing.
That's why Democrats favor economic programs like the late Export-Import Bank. In a free market, banks and other creditors decide who gets financing. Ex-Im — like the Solyndra stimulus program — allows our betters in the government to allocate financing, instead. Why leave it up to the market, after all, when "we know what works"?
Debate is just another pernicious type of competition. It's the competition of ideas, and "we've just got to put aside" such a clash of values and conclusions. Those were valuable before we knew for certain what to do.
The Left's disdain for political debate flares up from time to time. Its campaign finance crusades these days are directed at quieting outside groups who criticize politicians. Obama's IRS has targeted non-profits who step out of line. Oregon's government has instructed a dissident bakery that it may not speak aloud its refusal to participate in gay wedding ceremonies.
Speech on college campuses is policed heavily to prevent any unorthodox views on sexuality. Dissent, once patriotic, is now "problematic." Debate is "triggering."
As Ben Smith at BuzzFeed put it, "for a number of issues ... there are not two sides."
Look at the Supreme Court, and you see more uniformity on the Left. At Slate, Eric Posner calculated that "The liberals vote with one another more than 90 percent of the time while the conservatives vote with one another about 70–80 percent of the time."
Even more telling, the four liberal justices wrote 3 to 8 separate concurrences or dissents each over the last term, while the three conservative justices wrote 20 to 26.
I am overgeneralizing, of course. Many liberals — maybe most liberals who aren't actually in power — love debate and tolerate pluralism. Heck, some of my best friends are liberals who appreciate intellectual sparring.
Liberal resistance to the coronation of Hillary Clinton is showing itself these days in the surging poll numbers of liberal gadfly Bernie Sanders. I wouldn't put too much stock in Sanders as the Left's champion of competition and choice, though — after all, he's upset that we have so many varieties of deodorant.
Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Sunday and Wednesday on washingtonexaminer.com.