There have always been multiple visions of the future of the ‘American Experiment’ despite what comes across from the rather wan gruel we all get fed in public school unless we have unusually good and aggressive ‘social studies’ teachers.
I have read a few interesting modern histories of the united states and the best of these show that there were always multiple threads at work, more than just the now common Conservative / Progressive (NO, not Liberal.) And I don’t necessarily associate Conservative with Republicanism and Progressives with Democratic ideals.
I think if you go back to your math/geometry and get a view of a three-dimensional graph at the origin ( 0,0,0) with +&- axis for (x,y,z) showing. Got that picture in your head?
Now simplified political philosophy has taught the Left Right (x-axis) Dichotomy of Communism and Fascism … which supposedly goes from the people being sovereign to the opposite of one person being sovereign. With a smooth transition from one side to the other. This is the sovereignty axis in my opinion And America is not at the far right, its at the middle left, because sovereignty rests in the hands of the people’s elected representatives who can be tossed out.
Now don’t forget that while so-called Communist or People’s regimes claim the mantle of the People they are always in practice Fascist oligarchic or even despotic (one person) systems. And Fascist regimes (when they dared call themselves such) were in reality Party dominated Bureaucratic states and the best run of each type were much more alike than they were different. They are both basically Oligarchic with a tendency for one man rule.
So there has to be some other axis in play. Call it the ownership axis, who owns what? Say this is Up / Down, Up is personal ownership of everything, Down is state ownership of everything. Here you can parse out a philosophical though perhaps not so much a practical difference between Communism and Fascism as practiced in the real world. The Communist state owns all means of production (a person theoretically is still a sovereign actor and can own personal items) Fascism tends to accentuate diverse ownership of the means of production, in fact tends to focus on ownership and ‘winning/winners’ to the detriment of other things. If you look at the worst of the worst they didn’t really see anything wrong with slavery (but again in practice neither did the Communists, if you were sub-human enough to protest against the regime.)
And then you have the other political axis, call it the regulatory axis, one side you have anarchy, everyone establishes their own regulations, and on the other axis you have the regulatory state where every potential action is regulated by some rule.
Now mankind has never lived in either extreme, every animal has some innate regulation and the more complex an animal becomes the more it operates in some form of society which again has a set of perhaps unstated, but often iron clad, rules. With humans language and society co developed in complexity and at some point language grew in symbolic power to the point that it enabled humans to think up and then explain new ways to regulate life (as well as explain it and pass the knowledge along so others could build on to what was known before.) This is the foundation of modern civilization and while I’m a libertarian at heart, I know that humans have to live in a regulated world. Life in a unregulated world would be impossibly complex because you could never ‘trust’ anyone you did not know at least somewhat, to operate within the same social context as you do.
And as much as many Conservative pundits whine about it we do not live in a regulatory state. In practice only robots could live in the far limits of the regulatory state because they can be programmed and ‘flash’ reprogrammed to operate by the rules (if their ‘brain’ is big enough to contain said rule set.) A human cannot learn more than a relatively small set of rules in any lifetime and operationally using rules requires that you focus on a smaller sub set. This is the reality of the ‘joke,’ “…he knew more and more about less and less until he knew everything about nothing.”
Going back to Communist Fascist dichotomy, what does this new axis explain? Well to be honest, nothing, in practice both Communist and Fascist states tend toward the highly regulated but in both cases the regulations tend to focus on industrial and militaristic means and social control ends. However if you look at the ‘Democracy vs Communistic/Fascist’ it tends to show a huge spread, with distributed and relatively low levels of regulation in the Democracies and very highly concentrated and high levels of regulation in the Communist/Fascist states.
Concomitantly the D vs C/F spread on the sovereignty axis shows a wide spread and in my opinion shows a pretty concentrated blob for the C/F group well towards the single sovereign and the D’s a broad spread towards the all sovereign limit (though none get close to the limit)
And the D vs C/F on the ownership axis again shows (in my mind) the C/F’s practically as a spread towards to state ownership side and the D’s a spread towards individual ownership with the D’s getting closer to their limit than the C/F’s to theirs.
So I wandered far from my start point ehe? No, because if you look at that graph I have tried to form in your head you should see that our Democratic and Republican politicians are in all practical senses identical to each other. They are for sovereignty of the people, personal ownership of property and moderate levels of regulation all within bounds that most of us would find reasonable, if not totally laudatory.
As much as some ‘Con’ Pundits accuse the Pro Elite of despising America and ‘Pro’ Pundits accuse Con Elites of anti democratic tendencies, both sides almost to a man and woman love the United States of America and its People, in aggregate, if not in personal detail. Both sides recognize many of the same national failings, but attribute them to different causes, and often times assigning them different levels of importance. But we by and large live with in the same social memes and can Trust each other on a personal basis (fair dealing on a bet, honesty in word and deed, etc) even when we don’t necessarily agree or even trust them regarding political issues. As long as this social cohesion can remain to under-gird our political disarray. In fact I think we are just seeing the chaotic workings of a ‘society and polity’ that while vastly different in detail from what the founders would have recognized, is well within the bounds of what they could have hoped for given that most of what we experience day to day is utterly at odds with their day to day experience.
So, in closing: As a Naturalized Citizen of the United States I bid all that have always been, those who have become, those who want to become and those who have simply served the greater dreams of our great experiment, have a Joyous as well as Thoughtful, 4th of July.