Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Ideological Problem...

The primary problem with the American political system is that no one can really figure out what party they belong to. Each of the two parties break down into sub-groups along specific ideological lines. For instance, there is a group of pro-choice republicans and pro-life democrats. Even still, many people ascribing to membership in a particular political party don't really know the agenda of the leadership in their party. For example, who knew that an oil man from Texas would be anti-liberty and in favor of knee-jerk protectionism. Many republicans identify themselves as conservatives. I think that even now, there is quite a bit of confusion regarding what constitutes conservatism. Pundits and critics throw the word neocon, or neoconservative, around to describe a recent development with so-called "conservative" ideology.

The ideological movement sprung up after World War II, and started to take hold in American politics around the time of the Cold War. One of the most notable neoconservatives was Ronald Reagan. However, the genesis of the movement was a shift away from the Democratic liberalism that buttressed Lyndon Johnson's Presidential policy. Irving Kristol, one of the founders of the movement, said that a neocon is a "a liberal who was mugged by reality." Since its origins are in liberalism, much of the movement was built around a kind of augmented social-conservatism, aimed at "fixing" societies problems without the bloated government structure advocated by "liberal" opponents. While this movement seemed to effectively work for battling the enemies of the Cold War, the policies set in place today could pose serious risks to liberty.

The form of neoconservatism advocated by the President has some interesting new undercurrents that can only be described as aberrant given the direction of his current domestic and foreign policy. First, the President has used much of recent history to establish a much bigger, more powerful government to deal with the oft identified terrorist threat. This has caused a proportional increase in the federal budget with a staggering increase in the national debt. Expanded governmental powers have also meant a decrease in freedom with the increase in searches on public transportation and domestic surveillance. These policies are, quite literally, the antithesis of classical conservatism. So much so, that many political conservatives are identified as "liberal". This switch has been largely driven by neoconservative pundits that offer a variety of irrational excuses to justify their policy. The fact of the matter is, most true conservatives want a return to smaller government and preserved liberties. It's almost as though the republican party is no longer truly stands for classical conservatism, and that more conservatives could count themselves as liberals, if only because democrats favor the abolition of current policy that abuses privacy rights.

What result then? That depends on the people on both sides of the isle figuring out what they want from their government. Clearly, a threat exists to this country from outside forces, but that has been the case on some level for nearly 90 years. The spread of this aberrant form of neoconservative can only be explained by the current demographic shift in American ideology. All of the liberals from the 1960's and 70's have been mugged by reality, and are supporting dangerous policies put forth by the President. We need to consider the practical effects of these policies before it mugs the Constitution of policy set in place to protect the electorate from the government.

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