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Contingency? Irony? Solidarity!

Young Ezra observes that "One could easily imagine a left win that's closer to the Dobbsian/Christian Democrat compromise of social conservatism with economic progressivism." And, as he says, it's easy to imagine a situation in which politics takes place on an axis between a party of Economist-reading elites and Dobbs-watching populists. Indeed, one often witnesses libertarians imagining just that -- see, e.g., Virginia Postrel's The Future and Its Enemies and Brink Lindsey on "liberaltarians."

Fortunately, the modern world actually provides many different examples of mature electoral democracies. I'm not positive about this, but my sense is that a survey of two-party dynamics would indicate that something roughly resembling the American pattern is the rule rather than the exception. In Spain, gay marriage was brought in by the Socialist Party. Labour in Britain is the party of the unions and the party of gay rights and multiculturalism. The Liberals in Canada are opposed by low-tax, traditionalist Conservatives. And so it goes.

Obviously, this would be more a topic for rigorous academic research than a blog post, but my sense of things is that there's some relatively "deep" reason that this configuration of political coalitions is so much more common than the alternative.