Right now, the balance of power in America is almost evenly divided between the far right and far left. There is almost a 50-50 split in the electorate, and no party has really established a permanent majority. American politics is very cyclical—parties seems to average a decade in power before being voted out. (Democrats were in power for most of the Sixties, Republicans and Democrats split the Seventies, Republicans controlled the Eighties, Democrats controlled the Nineties, and the Republicans have controlled most of the new millennium). American politics does not seem to revolve around a center—rather; Americans keep alternating between rightist and leftist governments.
The gap between Republicans and Democrats is considerable—yet neither party seems able to get a mandate. Instead, the voters keep putting first one, then the other party in power, meaning that sometimes libertarian capitalists run the country and the other times big-government socialists run the country.
This will not work for much longer. These two systems of government are completely incompatible, and alternating between the two will lead to disaster.
Liberalism (or socialism, at least as we know it, is founded on creating a giant welfare state and giving the government control over almost every aspect of life. This requires a massive bureaucracy, high taxes, and a lot of regulation. A socialist state cannot work without these conditions.
The services a socialist state provides includes universal health care, environmental protection, and protection of civil rights. It does none of these things particularly well, but socialism survives because it ensures that all these benefits exist for everyone in some form.
Conservatism, on the other hand, is based on the premise that the liberty of the individual is the highest good. It requires very limited government intervention, low taxes, and few regulations. In the absence of these circumstances, a conservative country cannot flourish.
In America, though, the constant ideological shifts cause only the popular segments of each philosophy to remain as campaign promises. This survival of the fittest ideas means that both parties promise universal health care, low taxes, individual liberty, and strident environmental protection.
Of course, these promises are incompatible. Universal health care with lower taxes? Won’t work. And fighting global warming sounds good on paper, but will not be possible unless the government takes control of how people live. These ideologies cannot coexist in the same country.
Very soon, America will need to make a choice. It can either be a government run socialist state run on the European model, or it can choose conservative values and principles. Half measures will not work.
If America chooses socialism, then it will need to change a few things. It will need to impose higher taxes—not just on the rich, but on everyone. Taxing only the rich doesn’t work, since they will a) find a more accommodating place to live, or b) they will stop creating new wealth. And where will you go when the rich run out of money? Taxes will need to be raised on everyone—on the poor, on the middle class, and on the rich.
If America decides to follow the conservative path, then it will have to drastically reign in entitlements. This will be very, very hard. Americans have grown accustomed to entitlements—it is probably no exaggeration to say they are part of our way of life. We will have to end Social Security as we know it. (Social Security will probably go bankrupt in about thirty years anyway, though). Americans will have to wean themselves off of the way of life that government handouts allow. This is possible, but it will be very hard.
Whatever direction America chooses, it cannot be the one we are presenting going. America is over nine trillion dollars in debt. We will have to pay that back someday. Entitlements consume about sixty percent of the budget. The choice is clear. We must either raise taxes, or cut entitlements. There does not seem to be any third way.
Neither of the Presidential candidates will really push the country in one direction or the other. John McCain is more conservative than some give him credit for, but he is still very moderate. Barack Obama is a very far left liberal—but he is a very pragmatic, work-towards the center type, so it is doubtful that he will move the country very far to the left. Both candidates are correct to call for change—but neither of them will provide it in any meaningful way.