I've been mulling a concept for the last while that I'd like to float here, and it has to do with how people from various aspects of the political spectrum relate to the state. Here is my working theory.
People on the Left of the political spectrum rely on the qualities of the person in the position, and people on the Right of the political spectrum rely on the qualities that the position gives to the person.
My first supporting anecdote comes from the bucolic hamlet of Washington, in the District of Columbia. David Gregory, a Journalist of Impeachable Standing (tm) is shown on national television in possession of an item that is strictly forbidden to non-government persons with the District. For now (even though we all know what the item was) lets just put a placeholder there, maybe some raw milk, or hallucinogenic substances. Many people on the Right of the spectrum have lobbied vociferously for his arrest and prosecution, neither of which have been forthcoming, for possession of the illegal item. The people in political power in the area, who are on the Left, had no intention of bringing charges against Gregory, and were indeed surprised at the outrage- it was being used as a prop device on a political broadcast, and they had no intention of prosecuting an ally of theirs for his choice of prop. Contemporaneous to this act is the story of Shaneen Allen, a young mother, who incidentally found herself in New Jersey with an object that was forbidden to her there. She was not aware, at the time, that this object was forbidden, but ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. She was charged, and through a fortunate coincidence her situation gained national attention and the presence of some very high value lawyers. She subsequently entered a pre-trial diversion program which amounts to expungement after a period of probation.
Why were these two cases treated in such different fashions? My hypothesis- prosecutorial discretion is seen as a FEATURE, not a bug, to the Left. Discretion allows the person in the position to decide whether or not it is appropriate to proceed with charges. Shaneen Allen was proceeding with an activity that fit the description and perhaps the spirit of the law, as written (accepting that possession of the item in question is generally seen as evidence of being political opposition to the powers that be in New Jersey and elsewhere), and was therefore charged. David Gregory was in violation of the LETTER of the law, but is both an ally and an advocate of the political establishment, and was acting in a way that did not violate the spirit of the rule. It is because the PERSON in charge elected not to press charges that David Gregory was not charged. It was not due to some overlooked clause in the law itself. The ability to avoid prosecution for David Gregory is seen as well within the scope of duty for the prosecutor.
My next supporting anecdote is a great deal more apocryphal, but I am confident that we can all find examples in our own history that fill in the details. Especially in cases of recreational pharmaceuticals, there is a marked tendency of people on the Left to be remarkably sanguine about breaking the law, even including laws that they themselves are in favor of. I would recommend the level of illegal intoxicants on a college campus (wherein a large majority of the general populace leans to the Left)as an example. Another stark example would be the fact that Diane Feinstein (an ardent anti-gun politician) is widely rumoured to be a California Concealed Weapons License holder, or the fact that Michael Bloomberg, who is financing the larger part of the national gun-control movement, has continual armed security. I also recall a story from last year, wherein a famously anti-gun political activist admitted to carrying a gun illegally in DC, Chicago, and New York, where he almost certainly had close contact with people who were supposed to arrest him for such activity. Most recently in Ohio, a state level politician with anti-gun bona fides was caught carrying a firearm at an airport. There is an air that most laws will be broken pretty much all of the time. Contrast that with many on the Right, who are iron-rigid in their belief that the law must be followed at all times- when they are eventually found to be in violation of the law, it creates quite a disturbance. Quite frequently, being found in violation of a law that they supported is toxic to any political aspirations. They take great pains in hiding their transgressions, to varying degrees of success.
My hypothesis- Those on the Left are confident in the discretion that they afford to the enforcement of the rules, and thus they are much more relaxed when those rules are broken. Those on the Right assume that they will be held to task for their transgressions, and are therefore more likely to hide or suppress them.
The next part of my working theory has to do with WHY this would be the case, and it relates to the first statement I made. It is my theory that the Left views the law as a collection of things that CAN be applied, if the situation warrants it, while that Right views the law as a binding, no-exception contract. The Left relies on the quality of the person holding the office; they must be the kind of person that can be trusted with the enormous amount of power that they are being given. The Right, on the other hand, relies on the qualities of the office itself; these are the duties to be performed, no more, no less. If there is ever to be an exception, the Right requires that it be codified, while the Left requires that the person responsible for executing the law is given the flexibility to apply that exception. This is a fundamental difference in the approach to governing, and seems to be self-sorting. Each ideology attracts those who approach in that view, while the other sees those actions as ridiculous or even abhorrent. In this, I don't believe there can ever be a truly acceptable compromise- each group is quite literally pursuing totally different agendas.
OK, that's all I've got for now. I'm going to keep polishing this theory, because I think it is important to know how people approach government. As a Liberty-minded individual, I have a vested interest in seeing liberty increased- as such, I believe we need to know how to accomplish that within the framework of BOTH parties. In this way, we can do our best to advance freedom no matter who is in power in Washington.