[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 22 October 2014. Starting today, my commentaries have been moved from Friday evenings to Wednesdays’ 6pm news hour.]
In less than two weeks Americans go to the polls and vote in an important mid-term election to determine the extent and progress of the country’s ongoing fundamental transformation during President Obama’s last two years in office. The focus is the US Senate – which side will gain or maintain the majority. This comes at a time when the nation’s political Right and Left are further apart in what they believe than they were during the Civil War 150 years ago.
Back then the North and the South were much closer together in their beliefs about God, governance, economics, and even human nature. The South wanted to retain slavery for economic reasons since their economy was based on slave-powered agriculture. Yes, there was a fringe that also thought Negroes were less than human, but they were a small and uneducated minority. The majority knew slavery was not a long term solution and used the constitutional guarantee of states’ rights to attempt secession in order to pace their own economic transition. But that was enough to launch the then bloodiest conflict now recognized by many as the first modern war.
In recent decades Americans have again pulled into two very distinct and polarized groups. The difference today is that the dimensions, along which we see ourselves separated, are comprehensive in the sense that there are precious few beliefs which we still hold in common.
In governance the Left strives toward pure democracy as the way to organize society, and the Right adheres to republicanism, believing with our Founders that popular democracy paves the road to national suicide. The Left believes that a person reaches the loftiest heights of achievement as a member of an altruistic collective. The Right rejects public policies based on widespread altruism and promotes enlightened individualism in work, responsibility, risk taking, and commensurate rewards as the way to organize a beneficent society. The Left sees such a society as based on nothing less than rapacious greed.