Obama's recent gaffe about what small businesses - taken out of context to mean that small businesses are wholly reliant on government, likely in fact meaning that they are not wholly unreliant (two quite different claims) - illustrate what different political sides want to focus on.
In much of our political discourse, we have arguments over gut feelings, or larger narratives with implicit assumptions, not by debating those grand philosophical ideals, but rather by quibbling with details by proxy - raising anecdotes, emphasizing facts that support our side, etc.
Romney/conservatives think liberals over-emphasize the importance of government. Obama/liberals think conservatives underestimate importance of government.
I suppose in the end all of this stuff, marginal as it appears at the time, nibbles away into the formation of political movements over the decades. But in the moment, it all feels a bit too much like we're all caught in a sort of molasses-like political ether in which much of what we communicate to one another is merely an expression of larger, intangible forces.