Sure you've heard it before, Republicans and Democrats are all really the same. They both lie, cheat and steal to get whatever they want. Neither really cares about the people, and so on and so forth.
It's the favorite calling card of Republicans whenever you get the backed into a corner.
It's also not true, and frankly, I'm sick of hearing it.
I try and establish two rules when debating with hard-core conservatives. First, whatever you say must be based in fact, not just a circumspect opinion. Second, we must follow accepted rules of propositional logic. In other words let's be honest, both materially and intellectually.
I never get a taker.
Now, I'm not trying to suggest that the Democrats are perfect. They aren't. Both parties are flawed.
They aren't flawed to the same degree though.
I liken it to two kids on a playground. One kid pushes another kid.
The second kid pulls out an Uzi with a 33 round magazine and empties it into the other kid. The Republican spin would be "they're both being violent. It's all the same."
Are both parties dishonest? That all depends on what it means. Sure Democrats will cherry pick some data to strengthen a point. Republicans will tell the most sneering, malicious lies to smear an opponent though. That's hardly the same thing.
I checked the last 100 "Pants on Fire" ratings at Politifact and the breakdown was 89 were assigned to Republican lies, eight were assigned to Democrats, and three were neutral (which includes one Republican lying about another Republican.)
If you want to take a broader look at the most recent Presidential candidates and all their ratings, 72 percent of Obama's reviewed statements were labeled as at least half true compared to Romney's 59 percent.
So no we aren't "the same." Republicans are far more prone to lying. Liberals are more prone to truth-telling.
Anticipating the response, no Politifact is not a "left-leaning site." It's a reality-leaning site. Reality is left-leaning.
My wife once asked me if I knew any Republicans who knew as much about politics as I do. (What can I say? She's easily impressed). I joked with her that if they did, they wouldn't be Republicans.
(It's funny because it's true.)
That's not to say that conservatives don't take the time to inform themselves. They're quite ardent in researching Facebook memes to amass talking points. (But again I joke, sort of.)
All joking aside, it occurs to me that there's something innately different in the way conservatives and liberals think. It's inarguable that at it's core, and in its paradigm. Conservatism resists change. Liberalism, by definition, seeks change.
Conservatives think that things are either already as good as they are going to get, or already were as good as they were going to ever be. Conservatives want things to stay the same or go back to the way they were. That's the very essence of being conservative.
Liberals on the other hand believe that the best is still ahead of us, and argue that we, as a society can improve and grow as a nation.
As a result, it seems liberals are far more likely to be open-minded than conservatives. Believing that things can be better and ascertaining how to make that change happen go hand in hand.
When you believe things can get better you look how to make them better.
On the other hand, conservatives are prone to reinforcing what they already "know." Rather than challenge their assumptions they seek to reinforce them. They do actually research, but only to the point that it affirms what they already believe.
If they find a news channel that tells them what they want to hear, they'll watch it. If they find a "study" which no matter how flawed, affirms their convictions, they will cite it.
It's also why they are more polarizing and less willing to allow nuance into a conversation. For example, so many of the conservatives who are lashing out at gun control legislation as an all-out attack on the Second Amendment screaming "don't take away my guns" as though taking away guns is even remotely on the table.
To them, it really is (even though it really isn't.)
There's something about having a closed mind that rejects nuance out of turn. This turns the conservative into a binary thinker, right or wrong, right or left.
That's why they hear the words, "“we cannot mistake absolutism for principle,” and think that it's making "absolutism" is a dirty word. Ironically, in doing so, they mistake absolutism for principle.
That's why they hear how the supposedly most anti-big government Congressman, Paul Ryan, wants to protect the rights of a rapist over the rights of a rape-victim.
Some stuff you just can't make up.
It's why there are so many conservatives who openly advocated for the "spreading of democracy" as a means to justify the Iraq war a bit over a decade ago are now sitting idly by while the Republican party seeks to usurp it here.
And while far less nefarious actions brought down A.C.O.R.N. the Republicans not only nary uttered a word about the actions of the Republican strategy of vote-stopping, (what else can you call it?) they promoted it.
That, combined with their gerrymandering, won them a strong majority in the house in spite of the fact that they had a million fewer votes. It's why they don't complain about the Republicans abusing the filibuster to record levels to abuse the so-called "minority rights"
It's why they don't complain when they start talking about using their gerrymandered congressional districts to give a decisive minoritythe right to chose the president.
It's why when suddenly the Republican party finds that the long-established history of recess appointments is wrong because it's suddenly Obama making the appointments (and they are recess appointments because of the aforementioned abuse of the filibuster).
So the Republicans try and usurp all three branches of government, knowing they have the minority, but place enough value on democracy to fight wars overseas.
They can't see the double-standards because to them, they aren't double-standards. The Republican Party is always right, and the Democratic Party is always wrong. That's the core of their thinking. On every issue they first determine what to think then determine what to know. They find the evidence to support their way of thinking.
The core of the liberal mind though is to first ascertain what they need to learn. Then, based on what they have learned, they determine how they think.
It's why there is avery strong correlation between higher education and voting Democrat.
Of course the conservatives once again try and flip this on its head, arguing that it just proves that American universities are "liberal."
The mainstream media is liberal. The fact check sites are liberal. The universities are liberal. PBS is liberal. NPR is liberal. Everything is liberal except The Blaze, Fox News, and right-wing talk radio.
That's why those places have to lie all the time to prove they aren't biased.
Reality does not have a liberal bias. Liberals have a preference for reality because that's the way our brains work. We actually seek out the truth because that's what we want to know. Republicans seek out talking points because that's what they want to know.
And that's why every political debate ends up coming to this weird wall of talking point mashed up against reality. We are not the same. Conservatives want to prove they're right. Liberals just want to be right. It's not what we think that separates us, it's the way we think.