It’s Not Liberalism Versus Conservatism Anymore

To be clear, I don’t think it’s even entirely coherent to talk about liberalism versus conservatism as the fundamental political/philosophy conflict in the United States anymore. What I call mainstream American political conservatism is really just incoherent, violent rage. And the nominal liberalism of the Democratic Party under Barack Obama is so measured, heavily qualified and internally diverse (spanning the ideological spectrum from Dennis Kucinich to Bart Stupak) that it can barely be called liberalism at all.

The real split in this country now is between people (left or right) who are actually concerned with solving problems and people (left or right, Code Pink or Tea Party) who just feel like blindly emoting.

Although, of course, blindly emoting without resorting to violence, vandalism and death threats is obviously vastly preferable to what we’re currently seeing from the Tea Party fringes.

5 Responses

  1. Or from the Democratic union thugs who beat up a wheelchair-bound black man. Or the bricks thrown through Republican headquarters in D.C. I hope you agree with me that violence is bad no matter who does it.

    The problem here, Ned, is that we’ve totally screwed the structure of our government. The founders understood the problem and devised a solution. The problem is that politicians tend to try to solve problems. Unfortunately, their main problem becomes that politicians don’t have enough power over people’s lives.

    Our government was designed to solve that problem by keeping the federal government VERY WEAK, so it could only solve coordination problems between states. EVERYTHING else was to be done at the state level, with no restrictions on movement or commerce between states. If a state taxed too highly, or restricted freedom too much, they would lose citizens to competing states.

    In this manner, good government was rewarded, and bad government was punished. Now, though, we have almost no control over the federal government. Big issues, like health insurance subsidies (it’s not about health care, it’s about health insurance) get controlled by minorities (sic) who have a greater interest in the outcome than the majority.

    The problem is not the tea partiers, the problem is not the socialists, the problem is not liberals or conservatives. The problem is that we have forgotten why we had competing governments … and now we’re being reminded. The solution is for the state legislatures to rebel against the federal government and take back their power.

    Which … from the looks of the lawsuits springing up around Obamacare, that’s going to happen.

    There will be no peace until we try to stop having just one solution at the federal level for a country of hundreds of millions of people which is thousands of miles across.

  2. Amen! Interesting to see the rise of groups like the Coffee Party in this environment.

  3. Whilst I agree that Democratic and Republican parties no longer are even a vague embodiment of Liberal/Progressive or Conservative politics, it does not follow that “It’s Not Liberalism Versus Conservatism Anymore.” In fact, I would argue that these still form the main landscape. That the legitimated political parties have become an extension of Corporatocracy does not mean that these core concepts are less important. It simply means that forces are trying exceedingly hard to reframe the real issues, which I might add are becoming increasingly marginialised.

  4. Bry, there is a perfectly good term for “Corporatocracy”. It’s called Mercantilism. It’s the expression of the idea that the citizens of the country are best-off when business is in the pocket of politicians and vice-versa. It’s what Adam Smith was railing against in his Wealth of Nations.

    • Russell, I believe the modern terminology would be “Fascism,” and the past 30-odd years have gotten us closer to this outcome. Obama is just another link in this corporatist chain. It is interesting to me when during a dive-away to corporate interests, certain factions as the Teabaggers equate Obama as a Socialist.

      What bothers me is that these so-called Teabaggers don’t get that they are being played by the corporate interests. The rally cry is to rail against Big Government as if somehow Big Corporations have some higher moral ground, as if we only had “free markets” the forces keeping them down would be obliterated and they could thrive like the serfs before them.

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