The ferocious fight over the Obama budget exposes some of the deepest differences between liberals and conservatives, contrasting not only their goals for the country but their desires for themselves.
All human beings feel a drive for power, but leftists and right-wingers express that urge with opposing (and often irreconcilable) strategies. They employ very different means in pursuit of power in part because they seek distinctive ends: at the most basic level, liberals want enhanced control through political authority while conservatives crave greater sway through accumulation of personal wealth. Understanding the true nature of this distinction clarifies the most polarizing political disputes that currently divide the country.
The liberal preoccupation with governmental control characterizes every major initiative of the Obama administration. The reflexive response to the financial crisis is to blame it on insufficient regulation and to demand an instant expansion of bureaucratic authority to deal with the emergency. The left places its faith in governmental institutions, and even though most leftists will never personally involve themselves in politics or the bureaucracy, they support and trust those who do.
For instance, recent polling shows that big majorities of Americans want government to require more fuel efficient cars. Of course, the countless sincere citizens who demand such regulations could easily purchase high-mileage vehicles without waiting for some new federal policy, but the demand for sweeping regulations shows that many Americans trust bureaucrats more than they trust themselves.