Sunday, June 10, 2012

Red vs. Blue

The conflict between Left and Right in American politics isn't a battle of ideas. It's a clash of cultures. That's why the vast majority of American voters vote for the same party year after year and a tiny minority of swing voters decide every election.

The difference in the cultural landscape between factions is stark. We have a telling illustration in an exchange between a divorced Huffington Post writer arguing that marriage should be illegal for people under the age of 25 and a Fox News editorial laughing her out of the house.

In left-wing, cosmopolitan America, a person's early 20s are a time of "finding yourself", of getting drunk and friendly with members of the opposite sex, and of discovering your values by trial and error. Culture is created by and for the young. Trust in the capability of government regulation to improve the world is high.

In right-wing, pastoral America, a young person is expected to adopt the shared values of the community from the older generation, and their reputation in the community depends on it. People get married young and have children. The thing they most value from the government is freedom to live in the way that they believe in.

Of course, these descriptions fit the educated elite of left and right in America. The socioeconomic underclass is far less functional in both cultures.

How are people from such different backgrounds going to agree on how to run the country? They can't. That's why the principle of subsidiarity is enshrined in the US Constitutional through a federalist structure. It's the only way for a country of diverse cultures to get along. 

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