Sunday, October 10, 2004

Why America Leans Right 

This article is a brilliant synopsis of what must be a brilliant book on America's political culture. An absolute must read in every sense. Every 'graph is money, but here is the strong conclusion to the article (read the whole thing anyway, though!):
Conservatism rose in the aftermath of Johnson's Great Society, but skepticism about government is in the nation's genetic code. Micklethwait and Wooldridge note that in September 1935, during the Depression, Gallup polling found that twice as many Americans said FDR's administration was spending too much as said it was spending the right amount, and barely one person in 10 said it was spending too little.

After FDR's 1936 reelection, half of all Democrats polled said they wanted FDR's second term to be more conservative. Only 19 percent wanted it to be more liberal. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan won while excoriating "big government," America had lower taxes, a smaller deficit as a percentage of GDP and a less-enveloping welfare state than any other industrialized Western nation.

America, say Micklethwait and Wooldridge, is among the oldest countries in the sense that it has one of the oldest constitutional regimes. Yet it is "the only developed country in the world never to have had a left-wing government." And given the country's broad and deep conservatism, it will not soon.

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