Apathy as a political problem has been with us during my whole adult life. From the late 70's as a young adult through the present I have observed this. I remember thinking for most of my adult years that there was little difference of any meaning between the two major political parties. Now, today, it seems so clear where the differences lie.
The Democrats, as liberals, idealise personal liberty - to be oneself, sexual liberty, vocal liberty, moral liberty (as there are no absolute morals!), while attempting to realise a form of economic intervention for the prevention of suffering and illiberty due to what are, basically, unconstitutional causes. These would include racism, agism, bias due to religon, etc.
The Republicans, as conservatives, pursue a more pragmatic form of government. Their highest ideal is the economic freedom to amass wealth. This commercial freedom is the essence of their conservatism. The belief that hard work will be rewarded (by whom?, oh yes, the invisible hand...) and that the rewards of an ever richer society should accrue as much as possible only to the people who play one particular role in that society is fundamental to their cause. Interestingly enough they also nail into their platform a few very "liberal" or intrusive planks - they seek to ban abortions, and even contraception, every chance they get. They are not worried about liberty when it comes to law and order.
So if I may consolidate this rather biased description, it seems that the Democrats have pushed for social liberty while the Republicans have taken commercial liberty as their cause - with both sides fighting for freedom, is it any wonder the American people have a hard time picking a side? This is where the new movement within the Democratic party comes in. While their is a whisper, a shadow, of voices (mostly wives and daughters) trying to loosen up the Republican anti-social program, the Democrats have realised they can be for both and win. Why not, proclaim oneself and one's party to be the party that will stand up for individual social liberty, to live, act, dress, believe as one needs to, while also acting on behalf of economic liberty, to buy and sell, to build and lose, gain or destroy, as one's whims and talents lead one?
If the Democrats get this one right, the Republicans are in trouble - this is a situation where only one party can get there first, the other being relegated to the wrong side of too many issues to win. Potentially:
You see, by opening up their ranks to the men and women who see the commercial sector as the engine that drives our wealthy opportunity to attempt an egalitarian society, the Democrats don't leave many appealing stands to the Republicans.
Regarding some of the values debate that has been releasing a lot of rhetorical gas lately...
Although a majority of the American public will freely consider themselves to be Christians, that their faiths are many and varied, with every man and woman having evolved, freely under our system, their own chosen approach to spiritual fulfillment. It is important to remember that here we have also represented adherents to probably every sect, cult, and subdivision of all the world's major and minor religions, and a measurable percentage of atheists. We do not have a consensus on values, except in that by living here freely, we accept the binding resolution of the founders of this nation to allow the individual liberty to pursue one's own inner light.
Regarding the dubious value of government protecting the amassing of wealth above all other considerations...
Nevermind that 1% of the population amassed 60% of the new wealth in the 1980's. Looking upon the simple medium of exchange (money) as the highest possible expression of human endeavor, (as some do!) belittles the questions and answers so many have pursued, and given their lives to pursue, in an attempt to exlain why we are here fiddling around with our shops and farms and factories. Could it be that society should be organised for the protection above all else of that percentage of the population which holds the greatest capital wealth? Or should it protect equally, via its legal and medical and ethical systems, every human upon which its (gaze) falls - - something about mutual obligations, governmental and individual - for the one to work to one's best ability, in order to bring all to a higher plane, not just that one! Greed is not good, and not even very useful, as capitalism's only justification is when the results of selfish effort continually provide increased wealth for all members of the society. When this breaks down, it isn't free market capitalism, it becomes an oligarchy of the rich few who can manipulate the government without concern for long term or social consequences.
(see, LA Riots, 60's and 90's, Deaths of Civil rights workers, Iran-Contra war games, Routine lying by a government most accessible to the wealthy)
And I haven't even touched upon the dubious Bush government and its lack of mandate or ability for action of any kind. Poor GHWB is flailing about, seeking a target that fits his weapons . . . and partially to his credit, the worthwhile ones are gone. The pretend ones, well the Democrats are for family values now, too, and crime control, and jobs, and commercial enterprise, so long as it is people-friendly (why allow it if it isn't? "We all breath the same air...")
© Huw Powell