The title could refer to just about any topic, but in this case, it’s the analysis that the country is shifting to ‘left-of-center’ from being ‘right-of-center’. (See, for example: The New America from CNN.com). I don’t think this is accurate, nor do I agree that “the 60’s won” the culture wars. As usual, the Mainstream Media looks for simple analysis that fits their worldview, rather than trying to actually understand what is going on. Some will ascribe this to pushing their agenda, but I prefer Hanlon’s Razor:
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
That pretty much sums-up the Mainstream Media (e.g CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and all of their related news organizations). Shallow analysis based on incomplete facts and a lack of understanding of history will do that to you. They dish out pablum for the masses and the masses eat it up.
The real fight in the US is not between the left and the right. How could it be when they follow the same basic policies, with tweaks as to who benefits and whose ox gets gored. Think about it. In 2008 their was a hue and cry from the left over Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and foreign interventionism. Obama was elected. Nothing changed. Oh, wait, one important thing did change. Bush went to Congress for approval for his actions. Obama goes to the UN. Tax policy didn’t change (despite Obama’s public statements). The Affordable Care Act (aka ‘Obamacare’) looks a lot like the Massachusetts Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care (aka ‘Romneycare’). The EPA policies of the Obama Administration as similar to those of the first Bush Administration. The “Clean Air Act” of 1990 was signed by George Bush (a veto likely would have been sustained as the Republicans had sufficient strength in the House and Senate to prevent an override).
In the end, the Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin. Each offers policies that are only marginally different than the other and each picks winners and losers. Both support the regulatory state (it’s only a matter of degree). Both support endless war. Both support the police state (albeit for different things, so they compromise by doing all of it). What we have is a distinction without a difference.
What is the real struggle? It is not between conservative and progressive, left and right. It is between statism and liberty. Between truly limited government and centralized control. Both the Republicans and Democrats are for big, centralized government—the only difference is degree. The bottom line is that this is a battle over a fundamental ideology. Do rights originate with the state, as progressives say, or are they natural, as the Enlightenment thinkers declared? The Founders certainly agreed that rights were ‘natural’ and had a source other than government. Both modern parties disagree with this, in practice, if not in words (Republicans at times say the right things but rarely do them).
The real divide is not conservative vs. liberal, it is statism vs. liberty. It’s an ideological battle over the source of rights. Progressives believe rights originate with the state, which is the exact opposite of the founding principles of the United States. Progressives also believe that the state ought to guarantee equality of outcome. This also directly contradicts the founding principles.
Obama did not win because people are liberal, but because they are, in the end, statists. Given the option between being given what they want by the state vs. having the struggle for it in a free society, they will opt for giving up their freedom to get the things they want, so long as someone else pays for them. Politics has devolved into an auction to see who can offer the most to the most voters. Despite what the media would have you believe, both Obama and Romney were bidding for the election, Romney’s bid was just lower!
Neither party is in a position to claim a mandate. Health care wasn’t a major issue since the Republicans foolishly gave away what (for now, since it hasn’t fully kicked-in) was a wining issue by nominating Romney, the one Republican who could not attack the individual mandate! As for the Senate, the Democrats gained seats because Republicans picked a foolish fight over abortion (costing them at least 2 seats, possibly more). Don’t get me wrong—I am morally opposed to abortion. I just think it’s a losing issue and losing on all fronts over a single issue is foolish. Silliness about birth control handed the Democrats a ‘war on women’ meme that they ran with.
Only by truly embracing the founding principles of individual responsibility and limited government (instead of simply mouthing them), would the Republicans offer a real difference. This means adopting a reasonable stance on immigration (allowing it relatively freely is a basic American principle) to stop alienating Hispanics, adopting a liberty stance on state-sanctioned marriage (i.e. either getting out of the marriage business altogether or allowing same-sex marriage). It means truly putting liberty first and making a strong case for it.
Frankly, there isn’t much time left to do this. By 2016, the number of people who are wholly or partially dependent on the government will likely cross the 50% barrier. At that point, anyone who tries to insist on personal responsibility will be defeated by the masses trying to protect and increase their ‘take’ from the government (look to public-sector unions for an example). There simply won’t be enough people who don’t feed at the government trough to vote for a party that espouses liberty.
As for the “60’s winning”, I note that for the most part, the same people who are celebrating the legalization of marijuana and gay marriage are likely to press for ever harsher restrictions on tobacco, alcohol, food and many other areas. In addition, they are very intolerant of religion. The notion that the “do your own thing” ideal of the 60’s won is silly. But don’t expect the press to admit that!
Bottom line—unless we quickly return to the principles of individual liberty, freedom and self-reliance, the US will quickly slide into the some morass as Europe…impossible debts, uncontrollable social engineering, un-payable debts and a complete loss of the remaining freedoms we have.