Thoughts on the Current Debate: A Perspective from the U.S. (April, 2008)

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I plan on getting back to blogging soon but other responsibilities–family, work, taxes–are keeping me away. In the meantime, here is another oldie from April, 2007 relating to a political discussion about the utility of the left-right divide in the 21st century:

The left-right divide does not capture the complexity of people’s politics in the U.S. these days. For example, an individual may be considered “conservative” on foreign policy issues and “liberal” on domestic issues. Plus, when you actually start to examine positions on specific issues things get more muddled. I’ve known many working-class individuals who are very “liberal” when it comes to wages, health care, and pensions but very “conservative” when it comes to the environment or matters of concern to the lgbt community.

Why this is the case is an interesting question to ponder. IMHO most Americans have similar ambiguities in their political identities. I suspect that part of it is we don’t have a long history of political parties tied to specific political ideologies like democratic socialism, communism, etc. in the United States. The parties espousing these sorts of ideas were all relatively short-lived, especially compared to those of Europe. This continuous institutional history goes a long way in explaining differences in worldview between American and European workers.

[read it all]

If you are interested, here is another post on the same issue.

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