The Conservatism vs Liberalism political issue was the major background issue in the U.S. elections of the past two decades although you would not have known it by listening to the American media. All the other issues - The recession, financial bail-out scams, War on Terrorism, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, Obamacare, corporate corruption, etc, - were trivial issues compared to the question of whether "conservative" policies or "liberal" policies would rule the nation. The rapid rise of the Tea Party accelerated the debate!
The conservatives against liberals battle still reigns supreme in American politics.
Personally,I would like to see "moderate policies" but moderate policies have not emerged, occasionally, Moderation, by itself, is going nowhere in the present partisan environment.
"You are either with us or against us" is the new rallying cry for politicians. In 2012, the fight was between extreme conservatism and liberalism views, and political moderation was nowhere to be seen.
Previously, the midterm election of 2006 and the presidential election of 2008 also did not resolve the Conservatism vs. Liberalism struggle. The midterm election of 2010 was an overwhelming victory for the conservatives, but, instead of finishing off the liberals, it only awakened them from their lethargy. The liberals, with President Obama, won big in 2012!
Future rounds of the fight between the two opposing political viewpoints will continue. The future of the US for decades could depend on the outcome.
For most of this past century, there have been ongoing political debates going on in the US
The early debates featured the liberals and/or the conservatives vs. the communists and socialists. For much of this time, liberalism was much closer to conservatism than to communism and socialism. There was a parallel debate existing at the time between conservatism and liberalism but it was relatively civil compared to the debates with the communists and socialists. The liberal intellectuals were not that concerned with the conservatives and even despairingly talked of the absence of conservative ideas.
As the cold war wound down, however, the extreme left - communists and socialists - disappeared and it was quickly apparent that the liberal intellectuals, who, with the demise of the socialists and communists, had become, by default, the new left, now had to face a rejuvenated, unified conservative movement with a strong, message. In a lecture given on February 8, 1995 at New York University Institute for the Humanities, Paul Starr described the dynamic energy of the new conservative movement :
"One striking feature of contemporary politics and intellectual life is the contrast between conservative energy and liberal diffidence; conservative discipline and liberal disarray. Since the 1970s, conservatives have built an intellectual counter establishment outside the academic world that includes foundations, think tanks, communications networks, and conservative publications. Highly partisan, free from typical academic caution, the institutions of the right have trained and fielded a small army of intellectuals to contest liberal ideas and to foster consensus among conservatives........."
"There has been no liberal counterpart to this effort".
In other words, the conservatives have had energy and discipline and the liberals have had too little of each. Is it any wonder that the conservatives were winning until recently?
The "small army of conservative intellectuals" described by Paul Starr in 1995 continued to grow until recently. The energy and discipline was maintained by the conservatives and the diffidence and disarray by the liberals also continued. Early in the growth of the conservative movement, the movement successfully enlisted big business to provide funds for the conservative side. Money talks! It buys ideas too. The liberals no longer speak of the conservatives having no ideas. It is often the liberals who are short on ideas and the conservatives who are seemingly flush with ideas.
Another liberal problem and, consequently, an opportunity for the conservatives to grow, has been the reluctance of liberal intellectuals to respond quickly to a challenge such as to the one conservatives (or Tea Party) pose. Too often the liberals respond to challenges by using the old academic intellectual dodge, "more research is needed......." They would rather think than act!
In his 1995 lecture, Paul Starr correctly noted that "conservatives have been able to unify around a negative - opposing the federal government....." Sixteen years later, little has changed even though the liberal devil of that time - President Clinton - has been out of office for 13 years.
With the Cold War over, it was expected by some that the Conservatism vs Liberalism debate would become bland. Instead, bad feelings have intensified. As Paul Starr put it in his 1995 lecture:
"While battles over foreign policy have diminished, battles over culture, education, and moral life have intensified. There is even a tendency, particularly among conservatives, to regard these battles as the domestic equivalent of war, as if the so-called "culture wars" had replaced the cold war as the great historic struggle of our time."
It should be noted that the War on Terrorism, which occurred after Starr's lecture, has somewhat reintroduced battles over foreign policy into the Conservatism vs Liberalism debate. So, no policy area is spared and the debate rages. A fight to the finish is ongoing!
An example of the conservatives present warlike tendencies is their increasing use of the words treason, unpatriotic, un-American, terrorist, and disloyal when discussing Democrats, liberals, and, in general, all non-conservatives. Anyone who doesn't agree with the ultra-conservatives on any issue falls in one of the "un-American" categories. The 50's with the excesses of Senator McCarthy are being revisited.
During the early years of the conservative movement, considerable compassionate conservatism existed. Welfare within limits was acceptable!
This compassionate conservatism has been discarded in the past decade or so. Massive rollbacks of federal expenditures have been made or are being planned in social welfare programs which supplement the incomes of the poor. In the George W. Bush administration, the social welfare programs were cut back while massive tax cuts for the rich were implemented.
And President Bush, while campaigning for president, claimed he was a "compassionate conservative!"
What was President Clinton's tongue-in-cheek definition of a compassionate conservative? Something like... "A compassionate conservative is a person who wants to help the poor, wants to help the sick and disabled, wants to help the unemployed, etc, etc....but just can't!!".
The era of compassionate conservatism appears to have ended. If you don't believe that statement, listen to Rush Limbaugh ridicule the poor and the unemployed on his radio talk show. Limbaugh would not be ridiculing these unfortunates without the approval of the Republicans and Conservatives who pay his way.
Rush Limbaugh is the unofficial propaganda minister for the conservative movement (and, hence, the Republican Party). He is a very effective propaganda minister. I used to laugh at Limbaugh, thinking he was a buffoon, but I am not laughing anymore! Neither are most liberals. He is not a buffoon. He is a professional at what he does, manufacturing clever half-truths about liberal folks and repeating those lies, ad infinitum!
As a result of Limbaugh's work, some have called him the most dangerous man in America!
Please note that FOX News is not far behind Limbaugh.
Years ago, former first lady Hillary Clinton once spoke of a "vast right wing conspiracy" out to get her husband, President Clinton. Like most Americans, I laughed at such a statement. Like many Americans, I am no longer laughing. Senator Clinton was just a little ahead of her time.
The right wing "conspiracy" that we see in action today may not be a legal conspiracy but an unwritten conspiracy as ruthless as any conspiracy ever hatched. This unwritten conspiracy is more like a new religion in which Conservatism is all-good and non-conservatism is all-bad. Instead of one Bible, the conservatives have multiple books that serve as Bibles........Limbaugh has a book or two, the Tea Party has its books, etc, etc. Unlike the original Bible, these Bibles are pro-conservative, pro-Republican, anti-Democratic, and, decidely, anti-liberal.
Most of this conservative activity is coordinated almost informally through the work offices and car pools of America, churches and religious organizations, conservative foundations, country clubs, etc. An extremely effective means of communication.
1. Conservatism vs Liberalism. There are many political issues in the country but the most important is the conservatism vs. liberalism issue.
2. National Debt Management. The opposite debt management strategies of Paul Krugman and David Ramsey are discussed. Which is the better debt management solution at this time: cash-only (Dave Ramsey) or free-spending (Paul Krugman?)
Although many issues were discussed in the elections of 2008, 2010; and 2012, the overriding background issue in the elections was Conservatism against Liberalism.
Last updated: 05/05/14