In Washington, Democrats who believed in a strong president wielding power via executive orders instantly exchange these deeply held convictions with Republicans who until Election Day at roughly 10 p.m. Eastern time believed fervently in filibusters and limited government.
The two parties' attitudes about Russia are another great example. Through Russian invasions of its neighbors and a variety of hacking episodes on US government infrastructure, Republicans wanted Russian blood and the Democrats were in forgive and forget mode (remember also the "reset" and Obama's poo-pooing of Romney's claim that Russia was our #1 geopolitical adversary). But as soon as Russia is accused of stealing and releasing private emails from (non-government) Democratic Party servers that made some party officials look bad, suddenly everything changes. Republican President-elect Trump wants to forgive and forget and Obama is suddenly, and for the first time that I can remember, putting (mild) sanctions on Russia. And the attitudes of the rank and file have shifted on a dime:
Even more surprising, however, is the change in Republican attitudes toward Putin. He is still viewed unfavorably, but much, much less so. Putin’s current net favorability among Republican voters is now -10, meaning that Putin’s net favorability among Republican voters has improved an astonishing 56 points in the last two years.
Among Democratic voters, meanwhile, Wikileaks and Putin have remained relatively unpopular. Wikileaks’ net favorability among Democrats was -3 as of June 2013, and it has fallen today to -28. Putin’s net favorability among Democrats in July 2014 was -54, according to YouGov; it has now fallen slightly to -62.
I am more convinced than ever that our political parties are two tribes who are just going to take the opposite side of any issue from the other tribe, without any need for intellectual consistency either across positions or over time.