I am currently registered as an independent. Ideologically I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. For most of my life I have been a registered Republican and have almost always voted Republican in national elections. But most of my friends are Democrats and I often agree with them on specific issues. So why do I identify more closely with the Republican point of view overall? I may have finally figured it out!
I have just come across and read the provocative book, “Still the Best Hope. Why the world needs American values to triumph” by the public intellectual, Dennis Prager. Here is his message:
- There are three ideologies competing for the allegiance of humankind. They are Islamist, Leftist and American. “Islamist” refers not to Muslims in general but those within the Muslim world who want to see the world governed by Sharia, or Islamic law. “Left” refers to the values associated with the western welfare state, secularism, and to contemporary socialist democratic parties. Americanism refers to the American Trinity of values: ‘Liberty,’ ‘In God We Trust,’ and ‘E Pluribus Unum’ which appear on all American coins.
- The three ideologies are incompatible. Any one of them succeeds at the expense of the other two. All Islamists know this, many Leftists know this, but most Americanists do not know this.
- Of the three, only Americanists do not proselytize.
- One of the three is being promoted violently.
- Leftism is a religion.
- Americanism is the major impediment to Leftist success.
- The impediments to the spreading of American ideals. Islamism and Leftism each dominate many countries. Americanism only dominates one country: America. Neither religious values, individual liberty nor market values are secure in America. Few are teaching the next generation of Americans what constitutes the American value system. The most important battle for American values is the ideological one within America.
- Is there a fourth – Chinese – alternative? Either China will become a freer society or it will fail. It will have to affirm values beyond material success in order to succeed, as America has.
Such a stark framework as this hasn’t occurred to me before. But it makes sense and I totally identify with Americanism as opposed to Islamism or Leftism. This is not going to change the way I do things but it helps me understand why I am the way I am!
Jack, I find myself in much the same situation having been a registered Independent since I turned 21 some 50 years ago. I do admit, however, to one period of Democrat registration when a friend ran for governor (and won by a narrow margin). I believe there is a recognizable, if often times purposely misunderstood, Americanism ideology that should serve as a viable market, social and political hallmark for true free-thinkers.
It sounds like we’re on the same page, Chuck. Republicans certainly don’t have a monopoly on Americanism. And they can often be way to strident in expressing their views. Liberty need not mean Libertarianism!
As i mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I only recently began reading your website. I do appreciate your openness in addressing your basic principles. Coming from a more western European background, I find myself formulating more specific principles based on Freudian psychoanalysis, British and Germanic socialism and John Dewey’s sense of democracy, as a political construct. I do identify genuinely with your recognition that we slowly come to formulate a sense of ourselves as individuals, as people in general and as members of this planet. Too often, it seems to me that so much of this world and its inhabitants of plants and animals are too damned hard to understand. Yet, I find at this time in my life, I wish to clarify my basic premises and to wrestle with others about our beliefs and our actions.
To your 3 concepts, I would enjoy reading how you conceptualize and wish to bring them to greater fulfillment.
My initial thoughts are:
1. I shall ignore Islam as the only one of violence, except to say that all humans are easily provoked to violence and I am troubled with how we resort to violence when it comes to matters of belief or property ownership.
2. I would argue that both Conservative and Liberal concepts are ideological in nature and thus a struggle of ideas must follow. I find religious doctrines fall into ideological constructs as well.
3.Americanism is too confusing for me at this point. I generally find the metaphor of the ‘tossed salad’ more appropriate than the ‘melting pot’. Still, I would like to see greater homogenization.
4.I would not restrict myself to a Far Eastern model but argue that Buddhism seems a potential path with certain principles and practices to the American empire.
At this point I only wish to identify basic principles. Linking them to specific historical incidents and interpretations as well as so many scientific notions overwhelms me at this point.
But again, thanks for your basic notions.
All I am really saying at this point is that between the three value systems of Islamism, Leftism and Americanism, I definitely am most comfortable with Americanism. I’m going to have to think about your response, Doug, before I can adequately respond to it..
That is fine! My response was just to begin a dialogue about the base of our thought patterns. As I keep reading, and hopefully learning a little, I am constantly reminded of how how little I know. I do believe that I have begun to acquire a better sense of myself than in previous years. And I appreciated your own effort to keep searching for some basic premises to formulate a general world-view. Consistency has its virtues. And at the same time, so we contradict ourselves. It seems to be the nature of “Being-human”.