Monday, July 31, 2006

America Continues to Be “The Right Nation”?

This is a year of the mid-term election, and people talk about the approval rate of the Bush administration. While the media sensationalize the decline of the rate, conservative foundation in America is still strong. I would like to review trends of conservatives and liberals toward 2006 and 2008 elections.

Conservative movements are still strong. In a bestseller book “The Right Nation” by John Micklethwait and Adrian Woodridge, both British authors illustrate evolution of conservative theories, spread of conservative grassroots movements, and also, rise of conservative public sentiments since 9-11. In the past, conservatism was political thoughts of affluent WASP. However, as described in “The Right Nation”, it is no longer ideology of big business and independent farmers. Antipathy to a big government has grown as “the Great Society” policy collapsed. Meanwhile, conservatives have succeeded in brain build-up, like adopting cutting-the-edge theories by Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, establishing conservative think tanks and foundations, and so forth. In addition, both authors present through anatomy as to how conservatives organize grassroots circles to prevail their ideology. At this stage, conservatives remain superior to liberals in both aspects.

Another change for conservatives is the rise of black conservatism. This is not mentioned in “The Right Nation.” In this decade, I see some newspaper articles, saying that some successful minorities raise the case against affirmative actions. For those who can compete with white rivals, affirmative actions do not provide any advantages. It is their disadvantage when people see their success to racial quotas rather than their talent. One of my Japanese blog friends called Mike has written a post to introduce Vernon Robinson. Robinson is a typical example to show that conservatism is no longer ideology for WASP. The era of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King has gone. Racial equality is no longer an agenda for liberals.

Conservatism in America still enjoys widespread support. One of my partner blogs “My Newz’n Ideas” takes up a conservative book, drawing much attention from the public, which is entitled “Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies” by Gregg Jackson, a popular conservative radio commentator. In this book, Jackson articulates conservative viewpoints from A to Z, and refutes elitist liberal ideas. Right or wrong, this book receives widespread support among grassroots conservatives, as shown in comments on Amazon’s site. It is incredible, as this book was just released in mid-July.

In foreign policy, conservative opinion leaders urge the Bush administration to take tougher stances. As reported in the article “Conservative Anger Grows over Bush’s Foreign Policy” (Washington Post, July 19), “conservative opinion leaders perceive timidity and confusion about long-standing problems including Iran and North Korea, as well as urgent new ones such as the latest crisis between Israel and Hezbollah.” Quite often, People say President Bush has changed toward soft liner in his 2nd term. However, the president cannot ignore their voice as the mid-term election is coming.

Can Liberals roll back? They have played an important role in history, like employing Keynesian economic policy, expanding welfare, establishing the Alliance for Progress, and promoting for racial equality. However, they depend on legacies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. Three leaders are great, but politics is evolving. They should set agendas for new era, instead of appealing FDR-JFK-MLK ideals.

As I mentioned previously Democrats are divided on Iraq. They have not suggested feasible ideas, but simply criticizing the Bush administration’s policy. Antiwar is not an agenda for winning the election, because unilateral withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan leaves the whole are of the Middle East in turmoil, without terminating the roots of terrorism.

There are some new agendas, which would invigorate liberals. One of them is the Environmental Crusade by Albert Gore. Currently, liberals do not have sufficient appeals. Despite pro-con debates on global warming, there is no doubt that this issue has undermined US leadership. Actually, “A Compact between the United States and Europe” by the Brookings Institution, requires the United States to reduce CO2 emission, in order to improve transatlantic rifts since the Iraq War. However, no political parties took office simply appealing green agendas. Only in Germany, did the Green Party join the Schröder cabinet. Unless they set stronger agendas, liberals will end up just Ralph Nader.

Another agenda, like energy security is more directly related to governing the United States. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, “We are addicted to oil, and the oil is coming from the most dangerous places in the world” at the panel of the Center for American Progress, and insisted on lowering dependence on energy imported from these places. It remains to be seen whether liberals can capture the heart of voters with this agenda.

Consequently, even if the approval rate for the current administration drops, it does not guarantee Democrats rolling back. Conservatives are still advantageous over liberals. Toward 2006 election, how will things develop? 2006 and 2008 will be vital years in the early 21st century.

Endnote: Mike is an American born and brought up in Kobe. Though he is a devoted American conservative, he acquired a Japanese passport a few years ago, because he lives in Japan for many years. His blog is written in Japanese, and it is a great idea that he prevails American conservatism to Japanese bloggers through his blog.