Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Brief Note: The American Consensus

Michael L.

briefnotesOne of the things that I am most grateful for, as the proprietor of this small conversation place, is that as time has gone by the blog has expanded its reach to include, now, people from all over the world.

At first it was just me and Doodad and a few other Americans.  While Israel Thrives remains small it is also considerably more diverse than it was initially.

This being the case, I want to clarify something for our international readership which they may, or may not, already know.

The United States is a politically narrow place.

That is, within the US polity there is a general consensus around regulatory capitalism.

Democrats like to think that Republicans are their evil opposites and I am guessing that the reverse holds true, as well, although I am less familiar with Republicans and conservatives than I am with Democrats and the Left.

The truth of the matter is that Left, Right, and Center, almost all Americans believe in some form of regulatory capitalism.  The Right tends to be more economically libertarian and the Left tends more toward social democracy, but no one is suggesting a return to laissez-faire capitalism or, in any serious way, promoting communism.

I like to tell people that the fundamental tensions within American politics are embedded directly in the Preamble to the Constitution which reads as follows:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The difference between the Left and the Right in the United States is that the Left emphasizes the promotion of the general welfare whereas the Right tends to emphasize, at least from an economic stand-point, promoting the blessings of liberty.

It's not quite so simple, of course, because it's not just about economics, but this nonetheless represents the general frame of American politics and there is nothing dishonorable about identifying with either side.

When the American Left spits hatred at the American Right, and vice-versa, they are spitting hatred at people who are standing on very similar ideological turf.

It might be helpful - and certainly more congenial - if we were to occasionally recognize this truth.

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