Sunday, December 8, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Confusing The Future With The Past?

As my readers know, I write a great deal about political
change. This is not always just in terms of the political
parties, nor limited to existing contemporary ideologies.

Even as I attempt to understand the current forces of
international politics, I am simultaneously trying to do the
same in terms of domestic U.S. politics. Before continuing
a discussion I recently have begun about the former, I would
like to begin a new one about the latter.

I believe there is little doubt that American national politics
is going through the throes of another pivotal transformation
of its voter decision-making. Conventional wisdom has the
contending forces to be Republicans vs. Democrats, and
conservatives vs. liberals. I have also always paid attention
to those voters who consider themselves independents or
centrists. These latter voters are not much in journalistic
fashion today, as so much discussion is about the “polarity”
of voters to the left and the right, and because so many
elected officials who hold varying degrees of centrist views
are increasingly wary of self-identifying themselves as such.
Not only that, we can observe objectively that many such
persons in the U.S. house and senate have recently been
defeated either for re-nomination and re-election as the
so-called polarity to the left and the right continues to

Throughout American history there have erupted, and
then subsided, third parties, but in spite of some short-term
influence of these parties, they have not becoming national
institutions. The U.S. is a majoritarian nation and society,
and although this sometimes provokes tensions and
problems, majoritarianism is inherently a feature of our
American republic.

Behind this discussion of polarity are certain commonplace
assumptions. Some leading advocates on the left call
themselves “progressives,” and believe that the U.S. is
moving, and should continue to move, to the redistribution
of wealth, imposed forms of equality, and an increased role
of government in the private lives and choices of American
citizens. Some leading advocates on the right believe that
the time has come, not only to halt the current drift to the
left in national politics, but to restore the nation to many
previously-held views about the most controversial issues
of the day, including immigration, healthcare, taxation,
government spending, education and the status of family

The polarity suggested by the above does not frequently bear
much resemblance to the aspirations and beliefs, stated and
unstated, of many other Americans. But this polarity has been
taken up by the media and academia in such a way that often
shuts out a larger and more innovative discussion on both the
left and the right.

As much as an outspoken few might wish it, the U.S. is not
going to welcome a socialist (redistributionalist), or even a
European social welfare, state. This “progressive” view is in
a bit of a fashion just now, but every two and four years the
American voter expresses his or her view on these matters,
and fashions by definition do not last long.

At the same time, there is a view held by some on the right
that we can go back to the way it was in terms of immigration
policy, health care, education and family life. The world,
whether you are on the left or the right, is always changing,
and so must politics.

On the left, there are many articles trumpeted by “experts”
that federal deficit spending, taxing the rich, abolishing the
traditional family unit and status quo education systems
are the way of the future. I do not think any of these are

On the right,  there are many articles trumpeted by “experts”
that we can ignore the consequences of past immigration
policies, and even “expel” millions of persons now living in
the U.S. There are advocates, as well, of returning the family
unit and its relationships to what they were in the past by
some (unstated) form of imposition, that taxation can be
virtually eliminated, and that the government has no role
at all in regulating and enforcing public health and education.
These, too, are not truly sustainable.

Meanwhile, discussions of what would be workable,
sustainable, and, dare I say it, even advisable are almost
non-existent in the Old Media and by most in the current
leadership of both parties.

It cannot go on this way without consequences,
consequences, I might add, I don’t think most Americans
on the left or the right would welcome if they actually came
to pass.

I lamented the fact, in discussing international affairs,
that we have Neville Chamberlains today, but no Churchills.
Alas, on domestic policy today we have many on the far left
and the far right shouting down the useful national
conversations, but too few voices of the kind who really
changed our country, and made it the political light of the

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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