Monday, 22 May 2006

Why is America so Conservative?

I've been blogging for a while now and along the way I've met more Americans than any other nationality of people, I've clashed with a few of them and built excellent relationships with many of them and as times gone on I've become more and more fascinated by the political landscape of that great nation.

For me, it has always come down to how a man with the policies and beliefs of George W. Bush can win two elections with the backing of his people and why is it that the political make up of America is so much further to the right than Europe?

This line of enquiry owes much to John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge and their book "The Right Nation. Why America is Different" and the sources they have put me in touch with via their excellent tome. So go buy it!

First, for those of you that doubt that America is conservative (ie: is right of centre on most policy issues) at all, some thoughts: Americans tolerate lower levels of government spending than any other advanced country; Americans tolerate high levels of social inequality: 1 in 6 US households earns less than 35% of the median income with the nearest rival being the UK with 1 in 20; America is the only developed nation to not have a full government supported health-care system and the only Western democracy that does not provide child support to all its families; America does not provide paid maternity leave; America upholds the right to bear arms and still uses the death penalty; the US is far more willing to use force and is suspicious of International treaties; American citizens are far more religious than their European counterparts and more traditional in their moral values; the United States is one of the few developed countries where abortion is still a galvanising issue and where the majority of people say grace before their meals.

Importantly, these positions are not Republican but American and run through the very heart of American society. What's interesting is that a coherent conservative political force that reflects this agenda was lacking throughout most of America's political history, those on the right of American politics positioned themselves as 'true liberals' in the European sense of conservative governing (Nixon and Kennedy ran on virtually identical platforms) and the hard right was on the wane in the US. The peak of liberalism was of ocurse the 60s, when America got the closest it ever got to the European model of governance, reflected in 43% approval rating for the death penalty; Republicans using the middle ground of mixed economy and centrist politik; President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and politicians wearing their European education and influences like a badge of honour.

And then came Barry Goldwater...


  1. Having spent hardly any time in another country, I have no way to really compare how conservative Americans are. I think the American people are sheep for the most part, though, but you already knew that.

  2. A minor technical point is that the height of practical liberalism was reached in the 1970s, as the model is still based on "liberal" democracy, which means the nation's politics are formented through the national institutions.

    This, of course, was a "false positive," because it occurred after the Vietnam war, when the goombah thuggery of its government was temporarily paralysed.

    Of course, being stupid fucking bastards, they ran back to the evil side the second it appeared they might be able to impose their Nazi hegemony on the world under Reagan.

    That failed, of course, and there was a brief blip of left-ish sentiment right after the Iran-Contra fiasco.

    Never ones to learn when to keep their guns in grease, they manipulated Saddam and Kuwait into a fake war, which they used to jingo all the way to the Nazi cocksucker bank.

    After the Gulf War was a clusterfuck, and all the evil dictators America loves were reinstated, Clinton popped the odd Cruise missile and meagre invasion of a weak nation to keep the American people from thinking about how much being poor sucks.

    Then cocksucker #1 came to power, and the rest is a history of a stupid fucking people who deserve to be expunged from the face of the earth.

    I gave every benefit of every doubt to "the people," reasoning that their government was merely out of touch.

    However, they are a democracy, and obviously cannot control their government. Therefore, they are now generally grouped as evil morons who I hope are all killed by various painful means.

    Except for the three who actually struggle against the crimes of their Nazi leaders.

    They are not a great nation. As Plubius said, Hannibal knew how to win victories, but not how to use them. America knows how to win battles, but not how to turn victory into effective, proactive national strength.

    And, no, having two hundred million toothless inbred bucktooth farm rejects get drunk and wave the flag is not national strength. The strength of a nation is not in how it exalts itself at its best, but rather how it attends its most disadvantaged when it is at its worst.

    Ergo, America is evil and must die. Bring on Al Qaeda.

  3. Really interesting post.

    "American exceptionalism" is believed by many. It has to do with the geographic isolation, from European events in WW2, and America coming out of it untouched. It was on top of the world. No post war development needed.


  4. Religion. Our country is filled with those who still beleive strongly in the teachigs of the church, especially those who beleive that they are not allowed to interpret these teachings for themselves. Our nation is conservative because that is the way a young country survives. More so, those who are not conservative are often afraid to speak up. We don't talk about politics or religion with friends, or family for that matter. We are NOT a country who discusses ANYTHING of importance, so people's opinions strengthen rather than change.

  5. The baby boomers in America grew up very aware that today could be their last. Teens would listen to vinyl records, knowing that, should the soviets launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike at the moment the needle hit the vinyl, the album would end to the sound of thermonuclear explosions about 40 minutes later. In the soviet union, the leaders were even more scared because a single person in the US could launch against them. But the people were not acutely aware of this, so were less affected.

    While al quaeda with a couple of dozen fission bombs in suitcases is pretty scary, it is nothing compared to 10,000 hydrogen bombs all conveniently mounted on missiles. It becomes easy to believe that it is the grace of God that has saved them from this fate, so far. It then becomes easy to be fatalistic that it will eventually happen (because of all those other bad people in America that God does not like). So they might as well party as much as possible until then. No need to be concerned about the environment, economic disasters, or building any kind of better world for future generations, because there won't be any.

    In the face of such raw fear, it is easy to elect the baddest seeming people. America remembers the hostages in Iran under Carter, and even though their release had been secured, they did not come home until after Reagan's inauguration. They believe that, like the Russians blinked against Kennedy, the Iranians blinked against Reagan. They believe that they are less likely to be attacked in a major way (sorry, al quaeda is a minor way) with a president who appears altogether too willing to use atomic weapons. A president who appears unlikely to have a change of heart at the last minute about destroying much of the world. They believe scaring the crap out of everyone has worked so well, why change?

    People in America are starting to see through this, but the mechanics of creating the raw fear that wins elections is now well understood, and methods to counter it are not.

  6. Whatever. Forget these motherfuckers. Why don't you come back to the states and visit Nashville. You've never seen anything else like it. Guaranteed.

    If I can get a film crew together. what have you got to lose?

  7. @Col dr

    I'm sorry but you haven't given anyone a fair acessment. There are liberals in America. I use t o be apart of the expat community and most American expats are quite liberal and actually left the US because of the political climate of the Bush Administration. After 9/11 the climate went really to the right, and republicans were far too willing to run on people's fear, their racist atittudes(which in the 90s was strongly on black people still is, but not has shifted more towards Indians and Arabs, and Persians) Soooooooo The republican party did what it did best, and let its hard liners call the shots. With compliance.
    Now these conservatives are complaining. I know this isn't fair to use recent events seeing that the post made here are from 4 years ago. Anyway you have to understand one thing is that During the Reagan years. One thing was sacrificed. The domestic economy, and investment in its people. Education funding is cut by republicans while funding for prisons and military were increased. Republicans when they were in power never did anything for the long run. As education got worse people got dumber. When you live in a country where only 28% of the population actually has a bachelor's degree with only 5% with a master's degree. You start to understand how some of the biggest idiots can be elected. There is a HUGE gap in education in the US. The average level being at a 7th to 8th grade level. When you are American and you are apart of this small minority that is educated. You do get marginalized to living in Either Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, Seatle, Portland etc. Middle America where a large majority of Americans live are very very very much the majority of the uneducated. politicians use this to their advantage. "would you really want to vote for a democrat? they're educated that makes them elitist they think they are better than you." The populise being idiots Like IN EVERY SINGLE COUNTRY ON THIS PLANET yes even including the countries with high levels of education. They fell for this ploy. I human societies you are either a leader or a follower. People here complaining now. Are leaders. But you are only a leader if you have a solution to the problem if you know the right course, and if you are willing to set yourself apart from everyone else in order to be heard! This is what you must do. This is what hasn't been done in America. But yet it is being done, but what happens? These people get drowned out. Now you have some Tea Party movement that is just another Nativist movement reminiscent of the late 19th century.I'm paying close attention to it because this seems to be the decade where America no longer stays a democracy.

  8. Hi Kuz, you are commenting on a blog post that is nearly 4 years old but still relevant, thanks for your comment and you must ignore Col. Dr, he was a bit of character round, tolerated as voice of difference but his opinions were not shared by me.

  9. Its crazy how conservative americans are. they consider canada to be socialist, and they are run by a conservative. so go figure. talk to americans, even in big cities, and you will notice how conservative they are when you listen to the crap they say. most americans still believe in god, and are always saying god this and god that. i dont see why anyone in this day and age believes in god. also americans views on marriage are quite warped, as most of them believe that you SHOULD get married, and that somehow you arent a complete human being with being married. the thought has never crossed their mind that marriage is NOT necesary in life.

  10. As long as the world associates "America" with toothless inbred twits those toothless inbred "twits" will rule. There is this thing called "Servant Leadership" which, at the end of the day, is the model of Southern Christian business, which is the only thing that works at all anywhere. That is the source of America's strength. That and the industrious employees of weapons manufacturers and brave men and women willing to stare death in the face and fight to the last!

  11. Matt M, I'm not quite clear what you're saying here, you seem to be intimating that the reason America is so conservative is that it runs on Servant-Master lines, which is pretty much the rest of the world too.

    Although, the US does have a unique ability to mobilise the poor into supporting the very rich because of aspirational qualities to be in that group of the very rich.

    Now that's fucked up.


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