In his latest at The Liberal Patriot, John Halpin argues that what is on offer from both left and right is inadequate from the standpoint of a public philosophy and a health democratic discourse. He explains:
"Americans used to fight over big government versus limited government. Now they fight over who’s a racist and who’s a fascist. This can’t go on.
We need a new public philosophy guiding our political discourse, one focused on three primary questions: “What does America need to succeed? How do we make sure all Americans participate in this project? How do we get over our divisions to make a project of national economic renewal the core focus of politics?”....
In the past decade....U.S. politics has been taken over completely by a new public philosophical feud: cultural and identity-based politics.
As the old left-right economic debates faded out with the need for strong governmental action to deal with international terrorism, the financial crisis of 2008, and then the coronavirus pandemic, cultural fights filled the political void. Americans across the spectrum may agree with the multiple rounds of economic stimulus—including direct cash payments to people—that were required to save our economy after collapse from Covid and lockdowns. But Americans do not agree at all on other terms of public debate as the left increasingly defines its politics along identity lines focused on structural racism and oppression while the right turns to conspiracy theories and Trump’s cult of personality politics.
In recent years, these cultural divisions have become increasingly apocalyptic and sectarian: you’re either with us and all our prejudices or you’re a racist and/or a fascist traitor depending on the point of view.
These cultural feuds hardened in parallel with ideological alignment inside the two parties and wider polarization between them. Today, it’s very hard today to find liberal Republicans or conservative Democrats, and moderates in both parties are few and far between. This is clearly not sustainable if we want to build some semblance of national consensus about our future.
First, these culture war battles are irreconcilable. Either we accept people’s differences within a framework of mutual respect and rights, or we face a never-ending war for supremacy where cultural leftists and right-wing populists try to conquer each other and force submission. Second, American politics and society can’t bear the weight of irrationally escalating culture war battles over every aspect of life from our neighborhoods and schools to our workplaces and places we hang out. Third, America’s ceaseless political divisions undermine our position in the world, encourage our enemies and competitors to take us on, and weaken our ability to defend our national interests.
America has much bigger issues to deal with now, so we need a new public philosophy to match the times: liberal nationalism.
The two components of this public philosophy are “liberalism”—values such as reason, tolerance, pluralism, and equal dignity and rights for all—and “nationalism”, a concern with the common good and policies that strengthen America’s position in the world through steps to build up our domestic economy and increase economic security for all our citizens. "
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot....and subscribe!
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