Sunday, October 10, 2004

Why America Leans Right

Great read by George Will. Ever since I moved to the American South I've been puzzled by what I see as the stubborn support of Bush in spite of his obvious failures both as a President and as a man.
Conservatism's 40-year climb to dominance receives an examination worthy of its complexity in "The Right Nation," the best political book in years. Its British authors, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge of the Economist, demonstrate that conservative power derives from two sources -- its congruence with American values, especially the nation's anomalous religiosity, and the elaborate infrastructure of think tanks and other institutions that stresses that congruence.
He continues:
Micklethwait and Wooldridge endorse Sir Lewis Namier's doctrine: "What matters most about political ideas is the underlying emotions, the music to which ideas are a mere libretto, often of very inferior quality." The emotions underlying conservatism's long rise include a visceral individualism with religious roots and anti-statist consequences.
This jazzes with what I've observed. The most "American" of all Americans are white men in the "heartland" (i.e. outside the North East and California). I know that is a non-PC statement and I'm not sure if I can explain it well. But it has to do with values, and what's "cool". There is a quintessential set of beliefs that run through America, embodied by the white male. There are other beliefs in other ethnic communities, but they either move towards the core, white American values over time (like in many Asian immigran communities) or they stay as parallel but subordinate communities that have no coherent and constructive alternatives (such as many urban black communities).

Bottom line, if you're "real man" in the eyes of most Americans you hold a set of beliefs and values that are "American", and the Republicans have aligned themselves very closely with them.

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