One of the most interesting insights I’ve read in a while comes in this Grantland celebration of the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which points out that the show is simultaneously conservative and liberal:
Conservatives — think in Jonathan Haidt–ish terms here — value
tradition, authority, and group identity; liberals value tolerance,
fairness, and care. Or whatever; you can draw the distinctions however
you’d like. The point is, The Next Generation depicts a strict
military hierarchy acting with great moral clarity in the name of
civilization, all anti-postmodern, “conservative” stuff — but the values
they’re so conservatively clear about are ideals like peace and open-mindedness and squishy concern for the perspectives of different cultures. “Liberal” ideals, in other words. You could say, roughly, that the Enterprise
crew is conservative as a matter of method and liberal as a matter of
TNG has generally gotten a reputation for political correctness, largely because the very prim and proper Captain Picard cuts a very different figure from the green-space-babe-seducing cowboy that was Captain Kirk. Yet this analysis rings true for me. Unlike the later moral ambiguity of Deep Space Nine, the crew of the Enterprise-D were clearly the good guys, and didn’t have any reason to be plagued by a guilty conscience.
In many ways, it’s a novel solution to our partisan society–achieving liberal goals using conservative methods.
In this reading, Barack Obama is the cautious Picard and Joe Biden is more like the freewheeling Kirk. I’ll leave it to the reader to cast Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.