AMERICA’S LEFT-RIGHT DIVIDE: A BI-PARTISAN PERSPECTIVE.
I was having a discussion with my brother over the phone a while back. He’s a staunch conservative and I’m a dyed-in-the wool liberal with an increasingly traditionalist bent to a lot of my views on a lot of social issues. We often cross swords on a lot of things concerning the left-right divide, especially concerning how economic policy and social policy intertwine to ultimately determine the positive or negative outcomes of people’s lives. I’ve always been of the opinion that economic policies are not just about spurring economic growth and creating a favorable climate for business investment. Economics is not a pure and applied science, but a hybrid one, combining elements of mathematics and empirical measurement along with a certain dose of ‘hoodoo voodoo psychology of human behaviour, ultimately to quantify, qualify and attempt to predict human behaviour, which can, and often is, a most ethereal undertaking at the best of times, to say the least. Just consult any joke book and look at the section devoted to poking fun at economists and you’ll see what I mean.
I believe that economic policies are tightly related to social policies. The family, which is the fundamental unit of social structure of society, is also a collective unit of economic production and consumption, both of goods and services, but also of production and re-production, as the sociologists and women’s studies aficionados call it. This means that the family unit ‘produces’ and ‘re-produces’ not only things of a temporal nature, such as food, in the case of farmers, or goods, in the case of cottage industry workers, or the re-production of itself in the shape of procreation, but it also does all of these things metaphorically. In the sense that the family ‘produces’ certain ideas, values, norms, spiritual credos, traditions, and, through itself, ‘re-produces’ them in subsequent generations by handing down these non-tangible assets from father to son, or mother to daughter, or some other permutation or combination of the afore-mentioned people.
This makes for the family being not only a social entity, but an economic one also. The bulk of a country’s goods and services are purchased by families, not just by the government, other companies, or community groups, but by families. So we have to make sure that as a national and sub-national government, we ensure that social and economic policies dovetail with each other so that families are in good enough health, physically, mentally and spiritually so as to engage in the economic process of production and consumption. Because if they are not healthy enough to produce and re-produce themselves at the social and metaphysical level, it will be eminently impossible for them to be able to produce and re-produce at the physical and economic level.
This means that families need to have access to quality medical care at an affordable cost; they need access to child care services for working parents. They need opportunities for paid parental leave for when they procreate and want to take time off to be with their children to bond with them before returning to work.
If America can put a man on the moon, it can surely come to terms with what to do with domestic issues such as health care and education. The good of the Homeland is at stake. How can the people of the Homeland deign to hold themselves up to the rest of the world as a shining example of ‘One Nation under God, with Liberty and Justice for All’, if men and women who claim to speak in God’s name cannot overcome the entrenched vested interests of money, power, property and prestige, to do what is in the interest of the common good?
This is something which transcends all notions of liberal and conservative, believer and non-believer, social or economic in its policy orientation. It calls to the very notion of what we all hope America to be: America, The Beautiful, from Sea to Shining Sea. It can be done. Let not the threat of annihilation from without or from within be the driving force behind this push for a common goal. Let it instead come from ‘ We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’
Maybe I should quote that to my brother the next time we speak over the phone.