Monday, March 26, 2007

What is the Y-Axis of American politics?

Everyone but the most dedicated Democrats and Republicans (a lot of people, but probably not a majority of the US) is increasingly dissatisfied with the traditional political spectrum from of Liberal-Moderate-Conservative. As a minor problem, there seem to be anarchists/libertarians on both extremes, suggesting a kind of circle, but anarchists and libertarians do not entirely identify with extreme conservatives nor with socialists or Marxists who are also out on the wings.

However, the real problem is: What is another axis? (And there could be more than one.) The late Christopher Lasch, whose ideas will appear here often, suggested two other axes. He began by suggesting the libertarians and communitarians had common cause with other such across the right-left divide. As a man of the left, Lasch felt a strong sympathy for the communitarian pull of many social conservatives. Later, in his book The True and Only Heaven, Lasch suggested that a believe in infinite progress, on both right and left, was a problem, leaving progressive conservatives (such as many free market enthusiasts), as distressed in power (he was writing during the Reagan administration) as the progressive liberals. Lasch then went through American history seeking a tradition of "Civic Republicanism" which combined a hope (distinguished from progressive "optimism") of human improvement with a stern acceptance of the limitations of progress.

There are even some political activists who cross up the usual labels. The wife of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is an anti-abortion feminist in word and deed. A former mayor of Boston, Ray Flynn, is now a conservative Catholic radio commentator with all that implies, but as a politician would describe himself as a "practically a Leninist" on housing policy. I admire both of these principled people for what they have accomplished, and where I disagree with each of them, would consider them the best possible kind of opponent.

Okay, Four More Topics

So as to have practical areas mapped out, I propose four areas of concentration:

- The Politics of Healthcare
- Iraq and Vietnam
- Economic Issues
- Immigration

Obviously, other issues will come up, but I will try to develop some materials on these four where I have done largely private writing and thinking, but some professional work as well. The opinions I express should not be identified with any of my employers, nor with anything I have published or will publish as a journalist in a medium of fact.