When we complain about others being ideological, aren’t we really complaining about their ideology? It is not the act of committing to a principle, it is the principle they are committed to.  It is the other person’s ideology we have a problem with.

We should be more threatened by the absence of ideology, the idea that charisma and mere intelligence can solve our problems- that we are plagued more by bad leaders than bad ideas.

Reagan may have seemed ideological in his commitment to free markets, but this is what allowed him to stay the course with Volcker to fight inflation even when unemployment ran up to 11% and interest rates rose to 20%.  It is what kept his from interfering in the market in 1987 when the Dow collapsed 500 points in a day.

Candidates claim to be pragmatic, to get things done, by shunning ideology, but what happens when pragmatism become the ideology of Pragmatism (capital P).  This happened in the early years of Progressivism.

Political Pragmatism has become the ideology of Progressives, who find such Pragmatism to equate with more government control and the rejection of the constraints to central power and unfettered democracy imposed by the Constitution.

What do they call those who still value the ideas and principles of limited government so carefully woven into the Constitution?


What is the difference between ideology and principles?

Ideology consists of a set of principles often embellished with an element of faith. Principles are thought to be the result of rational construction. Ideology may become a commitment based more on faith than rationality.

In the imperfect world of social sciences and economics there are times when the principles either seem to fail or take too long and threaten social stability.  People who stay committed in the face of those failures even if eventually self-correcting are deemed ideologues.

Adding to this confusion is often the wrongheaded faulting of the ideology. The financial collapse was the result of terrible regulations, and perverse political incentives in the housing market at least as much as the pursuit of profit on Wall Street.  Yet it was considered by the left to be a failure of capitalism.  The solution to too much government in the housing and financial markets was therefore more government. The next problem is caused by the solution to the last problem.