By way of Popehat, Arnold Kling on a root problem with contemporary political discourse, summarized in the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Kling’s three “languages” are ways of talking about politics and government, and they align roughly with the progressive, conservative and libertarian viewpoints. Progressives, Mr. Kling thinks, typically express opinions using an “oppressed-oppressor axis”: societal problems are envisioned mainly as forms of oppression of the weak by the strong. Conservatives favor a “civilization-barbarism axis” and worry about how to defend traditional values and institutions. Libertarians use a “freedom-coercion axis” in which the threat is governmental encroachment on individual choice.
Sometimes you’ll come across a framing so neat and concise it’s hard to imagine how you made such a mental hash of the problem yourself before. As here, at least for me. Of course we’re all talking past each other, and of course everyone else’s axis of political conflict countenances evil, because their axes miss the point completely. You’re moving on the irrelevant X axis, when what matters is how much Y you have, and who the hell are those people over there talking about Z?