"Proposition 14’s purpose is to weaken and marginalize parties, traditionally the principal vehicles for voter education and mobilization," Will writes:
Supporters of "top two" primaries think parties are too representative — too responsive to their “ideological” members. These are usually the parties’ most interested, informed and active members. But such people, say Proposition 14 supporters, are tiresome because they are not congenial centrists. Being “partisan,” they do not practice the bipartisanship that enables government to “get things done.”
As a philosophical, not to mention partisan conservative, Will doesn't see "getting things done" as a constant good. He opens this particular column with a conservative credo: " Under the current imperfect administration of the Universe, most new ideas are false, so most ideas for improvements make matters worse." Prop 14 is offered as proof for this assertion. Will sees it as Arnold Schwarzenegger's monument, "a candidate selection process that is intended to nominate candidates like him....It seeks to generate a homogenized political class, one not lumpy with liberals and conservatives who, being politicians of conviction, do not always play well with others." Notice Will's small gesture of generosity toward liberals, crediting them at least with conviction when the hegemony they share with conservative ideologues is threatened even in this clumsy fashion.
The implication throughout Will's column is that principled politics is possible only through ideologically oriented partisanship.
Does America need a cure for “partisanship,” the supposed disease of leaders such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson at the birth of America’s party system? Does America need a nominating process that narrows choices by stacking the deck against minor parties? Does it need a process that produces “pragmatic” candidates who, because they have no ballast of “ideology,” aka ideas, and are not rendered “rigid” by convictions, can “reach across the aisle” to achieve compromises congenial to the entire political class? [emphasis added]
According to Will, there are no ideas without ideology, no conviction without rigidity. The only proof of principle for him is that refusal to compromise that characterizes the state of legislative gridlock he favors out of fear of innovation. But it can just as easily be argued that the rigidity of ideology suppresses ideas by automatically segregating them into one category or the other, the good and the evil. Ideology as Will idealizes it rejects any pragmatic appraisal of proposals, which are reflexively deemed permissible or forbidden according to where they're plotted on the ideological map, not that of the real world or one's actual constituency. By rushing to the defense of the ideological bipolarchy Will wants to force on us a false choice between dogmatism and ruthlessness. His conclusions suggest that, despite its plain faults, Proposition 14 is a clumsy, stumbling step in the right direction.