Why is America more right-wing than other democracies?

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Why is America more right-wing than other democracies?

Postby roc314 » Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:00 pm UTC

Inspired by several other threads I've seen in these fora:

Why is America so much more right-wing politically than most other first-world democracies?

It seems as though the USA is much more right-wing than most other developed countries. Whether it's Obama having overwhelming support in Europe, the fact that other countries are much more socialized, or social policy, America is significantly more right-wing than most first-world countries seem to be.

My theory on why this is: I think that the USA's role in the Cold War plays a big part in this. As the United States was cold warring (is there a verb for a nonwar like the Cold War?) against communist countries, there was a backlash against socialism that can still be felt today. Whereas much of Europe adopted socialism after World War II, relatively little has been socialized in the US.

I think another reason that the USA has a more right-wing stance is that they currently have a strong military. There seems to be a trend throughout history that those countries that have a lot of power are more right-wing than others.

I know there has to be more to it then this (assuming that my theory is even remotely correct), so what do you think?

(edit: I changed the title of the thread to try avoid any more arguments over the correct definition of conservative/liberal)
(edit: Changed title to read "democracies" instead of "countries".)
Last edited by roc314 on Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:15 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby qinwamascot » Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:22 pm UTC

roc314 wrote:Inspired by several other threads I've seen in these fora:

Why is America so much more conservative than most other first-world countries?

It seems as though the USA is much more conservative than most other developed countries. Whether it's Obama having overwhelming support in Europe, the fact that other countries are much more socialized, or social policy, America is significantly more conservative than most first-world countries seem to be.

My theory on why this is: I think that the USA's role in the Cold War plays a big part in this. As the United States was cold warring (is there a verb for a nonwar like the Cold War?) against communist countries, there was a backlash against socialism that can still be felt today. Whereas much of Europe adopted socialism after World War II, relatively little has been socialized in the US.

I think another reason that the USA has a more conservative stance is that they currently have a strong military. There seems to be a trend throughout history that those countries that have a lot of power are more conservative than others.

I know there has to be more to it then this (assuming that my theory is even remotely correct), so what do you think?


I think it's the effects of McCarthyism and anti-communism which basically brainwashed people to the belief that anything short of fascism is pure evil. OK, exaggerating, but you get the idea. It's sort of like the french revolution--spread so much fear of something that isn't even common at all that people start to believe you.

Even after Communist russia was no longer a threat, religious groups had become fervently anti-communist because of a threat of losing worshipers. Many of those groups stayed conservative, and if we know anything about american politics, people can't separate church and state at all. So this held onto the gains of the previous era. Some groups saw the opportunity to score political points by moving even farther right.

I'm sure this is part of it. If you look at the number of voters who say that religion influenced their decisions, they are overwhelmingly right-wingers.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby frezik » Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:36 pm UTC

Puritian heritage is often overlooked. Many of the first settlers of the English colonies were people who thought dancing was a sin.

Always keep in mind, though, that America is a very large and diverse country. While large sections are very conservative, other sections are very liberal. It's nearly impossible to describe an Albaman, a New Yorker, and a Califonian in the same way. The three possibly have less in common than a modern Brit, German, and Norwegian.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby SJ Zero » Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:41 pm UTC

America isn't, in reality, more conservative than other countries. It is in rhetoric, but little else.

For example, where most countries have found a sane equilibrium between government-owned companies and services, the US government is spending trillions socialising insurance and banking companies, which most other countries wouldn't even consider doing. This doesn't fit with "more conservative". More like "more communist".

Also, many other countries have balanced budgets, yet the US has massive deficits year after year. This doesn't fit with "more conservative", more like "more irresponsible".

Also, the last time I'm aware of a country engaging in pre-emptive war is Nazi Germany. It is against tradition to engage in pre-emptive wars of aggression. Going against tradition isn't "more conservative", it's "more liberal".

Also, the US has a constitution which limits government involvement in freedom of speech and press, establishment of religion, ownership of firearms, and prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. The US government currently has legislation or programs on the books which go against all these rules. Breaking the rules isn't "more conservative", it's "More liberal".

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby qinwamascot » Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:06 pm UTC

SJ Zero wrote:America isn't, in reality, more conservative than other countries. It is in rhetoric, but little else.


Have you ever followed the politics of any other first-world countries besides the US? Having lived in several other countries, I can say that from my experience, the US is far more conservative.

For example, where most countries have found a sane equilibrium between government-owned companies and services, the US government is spending trillions socialising insurance and banking companies, which most other countries wouldn't even consider doing. This doesn't fit with "more conservative". More like "more communist".


Most first world countries have much more socialized insurance than the US does. We're the ones who are behind. As for the banking, this is due to years of deregulation by the conservatives. Only now are people starting to realize how much damage the conservatism has caused in the past years.

Also, many other countries have balanced budgets, yet the US has massive deficits year after year. This doesn't fit with "more conservative", more like "more irresponsible".


This shows a lack of understanding in economics. Macroeconomic theory says that balancing the budget is not necessarily, or even usually, desirable. Conservative and liberal economists agree on this. Politicians just go for the popular buzzword "balanced budget" when they debate. It's popular with the people, but not really economically desirable. Other countries with balanced budgets usually have significantly smaller GDPs and can't really get great loans. So it makes more sense for the budget to be balanced.

Also, the last time I'm aware of a country engaging in pre-emptive war is Nazi Germany. It is against tradition to engage in pre-emptive wars of aggression. Going against tradition isn't "more conservative", it's "more liberal".


More like reactionary, moving back to the policies of Hitler.

Also, the US has a constitution which limits government involvement in freedom of speech and press, establishment of religion, ownership of firearms, and prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. The US government currently has legislation or programs on the books which go against all these rules. Breaking the rules isn't "more conservative", it's "More liberal".


right, so breaking a constitution is inherently liberal. This is just mudslinging at this point.

The people at the Political Compass have analyzed it. Check the results yourself. Or don't and disagree that it's a good source. I don't really care either way.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Kachi » Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:35 pm UTC

I'm going to second the proliferation of Puritan values and McCarthyism. There is still a lot of emphasis in rural communities on Puritan values, and there is still a lot of fear of socialist or communist policies in government. The former will send us to hell, and the latter will enslave us to the government.

Americans in general seem very susceptible to the slippery slope fallacy. If we legalize abortion, we'll soon legalize murder. If we legalize gay marriage, we'll soon legalize marrying young children. If we let them take our guns, we'll soon let them legislate our entire lives.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:38 pm UTC

On an economic level, I think it has more to do with the nature in which we were founded - most Americans came to this country based purely on the idea that they can enter a land and do whatever they want, further their own aims without any noble or government holding them down. It seems fairly consistently American to believe that ultimately your life is what you make of it. There have always been criticisms that the people on the top cheat there way there, but on an individual level I think the general attitude is still hard work and talent pays off.

Social conservatism, while hardly exlusive to the US, does seem to be descendant from Puritanism; there have been many efforts through the years to somehow "perfect" society. I'm not sure if this is really a majority voice or is it simply one of the louder ones, from the people I've met it seems like most might attend church but most people really don't care. For example. I've known plenty of people around this country that are fanatical about gun rights, but obsession with Intelligent Design being taught in schools seems exclusive to just a handful of voters on the right. This handful still probably constitutes some 10% of voters, so the Republican party can't really give up on their ludicrous demands.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:11 am UTC

qinwamascot, your post only applies if you decide to break away from the traditional dictionary definition of "conservative" and redefine it as "whatever the politicians tell us is conservative, except where their rhetoric and their actions are obviously insanely opposed, in which case conservatism is saying what they say and doing what they do", in which case it seems obvious to me why America considers itself more conservative.

Let's see what dictionary.com tells us:

1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

In other words, not going into unprecedented wars, passing unprecedented laws, creating unprecedented programs, using unprecedented presidential powers.

2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.

Like high-balling expenses and low-balling income, or choosing safe and attainable targets as to what to expect during the invasion of Iraq.

3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.

Traditional like following the constitution, and not going towards the aforementioned unprecedented actions.

4. (often initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.

Actual Conservative parties, not "The Republican Party which calls itself conservative", so inapplicable

5. (initial capital letter) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.

Not applicable.

6. having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.

Like not increasing the budget year after year, the debt year after year, like a family household travelling towards oblivion.

7. Mathematics. (of a vector or vector function) having curl equal to zero; irrotational; lamellar.

Not applicable

Given the actual definition of conservative, rather than the insane hodgepodge of conflicting political ideas, America is not conservative. You're the "bigger shinier" capital of the world.

The way you know a real conservative is they tend to say things like "In the past, here's how we did things. I think that's a good way of doing things", or "I think we should get back to the way we did it back when" or "My opinions mirror those of another person back when..."

In other words, the "insane lunatic" the Ronpaul, the only Conservative in America.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Intercept » Thu Oct 16, 2008 1:34 am UTC

I hate when people pull out the damn dictionary when there's a clearly understood and accepted definition of the word in question. You're not going to sway anyone, quit trying.

And I hate it when people quote an entire page worth of a post and only respond with a single line. I hate it even more when that one line is an irrelevant and snarky opinion. Don't do it again.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby telcontar42 » Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:03 am UTC

I think what is really meant here is that the United States is particularly politically right-wing. Conservatism technically isn't the same thing, but a lot of people use them interchangeably. I think we can agree the United States is quite right-wing relative to most comparable countries.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby roc314 » Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:03 am UTC

@SJZero:
Wikipedia wrote:Conservatism in the United States includes a variety of political ideologies including fiscal conservatism, supply-side economics, social conservatism, libertarian conservatism, bioconservatism and religious conservatism, as well as support for a strong military, and federalism.

No one uses conservatism when referring to politics like you do. Just accept that your definition isn't relevant what is being discussed here.

@Everyone:

I think the stuff about America's religious background is a good point. Considering the intolerant state of some of those early Puritan governments (Salem witch trials, religious tests to vote, discrimination against non-Christians/non-particular sect of Christianity), it shouldn't be overly surprising that the USA has such a strong conservative religious view relative to other nations. A lot of the libertarian views I can see coming out of the anti-government view of early America.

I think that the frontier nature of much of America had much to do with this libertarianism. When you're living on your own without any governmental influence at all, you tend to become a bit more anti-authoritarian.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Gunfingers » Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:59 am UTC

There are two groups that made up early america: Religious nuts and people who wanted to own their own land and be left alone. The result: a strong religious right and a desire for small government and individualism. The exact definition of "small government" changed after the US started becoming a major player in the world. We tried to join the "colonialism" movement back in the 19th century, and in many ways are still doing it. This is what began the defense spending thing, although the Cold War is what put us in the ridiculous position we're in now.

That said, a lot of it is on the way to changing. The religious right regained a lot of their popularity during the Cold War, but it's fading. It's becoming less common to find young people who hate abortions and gay people. The people who so staunchly support the religious right are being slowly bred out of the system. You'll probably never see a single payer healthcare system in the US, but the theocracy, xenophobia, and jingoism should be down to levels comparable to the rest of the world within a few generations.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby qinwamascot » Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:49 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:Let's see what dictionary.com tells us: ...


Ok, maybe you are right, but regardless, that isn't what the original poster was talking about (unless he/she wants to correct me). Plus, conservative has specific meanings within US politics and some other countries. You could say that neo-conservatism is a liberal policy, but then you aren't really answering the intended question. You're just dodging it. Although I agree the label of conservative is not correctly used, this topic isn't about that at all.

The same goes for you with the quoting and whatnot.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby roc314 » Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:07 am UTC

qinwamascot wrote:Ok, maybe you are right, but regardless, that isn't what the original poster was talking about (unless he/she wants to correct me). Plus, conservative has specific meanings within US politics and some other countries. You could say that neo-conservatism is a liberal policy, but then you aren't really answering the intended question. You're just dodging it. Although I agree the label of conservative is not correctly used, this topic isn't about that at all.
This is what he thinks, but don't let that stop anyone from going into any related discussion, just so long as it's on topic (I wouldn't want to pretend to own the thread, but I would prefer if it didn't get locked for being off-topic or something (and I was kind of interested in the original topic)).
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby The Hermit » Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:13 am UTC

Some side points:Government Spending and Taxes have large effects on Macroeconomics to say otherwise is justly flatly incorrect. My impression of the rest of the world particularly Japan and Europe are actually less immigrant friendly then the US.

America's conservatism is overplayed the last few years since it had an atypical shift to the right in the early part of the millenium and now as it has historically, will backlash left for awhile and then shift back right or be stuck in balance for awhile. Still even the Democrat party of America has several members who would be viewed as right wing else where.

A lot of it is cultural. The American spirit is free market oriented, pull yourself with your bootstraps, make your own life kind of thing. Or at least its often painted that way. America has also always been fairly hostile to socialism and communism where as communism was born in Europe. I also would say a lot of it has to do with population density. You could phrase as its hard to care for people you never see, but I don't think that's entirely fair its more that with less payers in a public system people are more likely not to get their money's worth. So it's more anti-government in rural areas. Religion is also a bigger deal here in America mostly because government has been pretty good about keeping there nose out of it (freedom wise) and just who set up roots here historically.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby telcontar42 » Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:32 am UTC

The Hermit wrote: America has also always been fairly hostile to socialism and communism where as communism was born in Europe.

Socialism has never been very popular in the United States, but the the US has not always been nearly as hostile to socialism as it is now. For example, Eugene Debs of the Socialist Party of America got 6% of the vote in a presidential election in 1912. In comparison, in 2000, Nader got 2.7% of the vote. Today, a Socalist candidate couldn't get 0.06% of the vote, let alone 6%.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:06 am UTC

Socialism might not be huge, but it's concepts are; just look at how much talk there is from Obama and friends about full healthcare for all among other things. As a party it's dead, but as an idea it's stronger than it ever has since perhaps the Great Depression.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:17 am UTC

There you go. Thread over.

America is more "conservative" than other countries because "conservative" in this case is defined not by any actual definition of the word, but directly by the post-Reagan Republican platform, even where the platform directly conflicts with itself (Fiscal conservatism and supply side economics? That's funny).

It's asking like why I'm more SJ Zero than you are. I'm more SJ Zero because I'm SJ Zero.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Cryopyre » Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:18 am UTC

I've still heard words like communism and socialism get seriously thrown around as if it's a threatening and insulting word.

Fear and fervor are alive and well.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby roc314 » Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:46 am UTC

Judging by the debate tonight, throwing around comments about "equalizing the wealth" is still enough to fear-monger. I don't see how you think the USA is over its conservatism. Especially with the comments about "radicals" like Bill Myers. And both candidates were referring to abortion with religious overtones. During the VP debate, Palin and Biden both stated that they were against allowing same-sex marriages.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby InstinctSage » Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:02 am UTC

The Hermit wrote:A lot of it is cultural. The American spirit is free market oriented, pull yourself with your bootstraps, make your own life kind of thing. Or at least its often painted that way. America has also always been fairly hostile to socialism and communism where as communism was born in Europe. I also would say a lot of it has to do with population density. You could phrase as its hard to care for people you never see, but I don't think that's entirely fair its more that with less payers in a public system people are more likely not to get their money's worth. So it's more anti-government in rural areas. Religion is also a bigger deal here in America mostly because government has been pretty good about keeping there nose out of it (freedom wise) and just who set up roots here historically.


I dunno. If you take Australian culture, you have the "Fair go" and the "Aussie battler", which from a political standpoint essentially says that citizens should have all the rights and opportunities to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make their own life. It's not about creating a welfare state. It's not that much different from the American Dream, as I understand it. Your average joe should be able to "make it" if they put the effort in.

I also find American culture to be very community minded, from what I saw of Oregon, at least. Families bring casseroles to welcome new neighbors when they move in. I had a chat to the postman and he was helping out at a community fair in his spare time. I find that a confusing contradiction that people are friendly and welcoming to one another, yet would say no to social programs designed to help communities, like better public health systems or education.
There's a big sense of personal freedom overriding other concerns, which is probably why (for example) there's no cigarette tax in some states, while in the UK and Australia they cost at least 4x as much and have ugly warnings all over them. But it's not like American's lack a sense of public responsibility or civic duty, either. In fact a sense of duty to the greater good of the nation/your town/your friends and family is very Republican.

Just thinking about it makes my head spin.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Kachi » Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:54 am UTC

You kind of hit the nail on the head. There's a sense of (/Obama) loyalty, love and service to your friends, family, and people like you, but fuck everyone else. You're not likely to see the kind of demonizing xenophobia that comes on the flipside.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby telcontar42 » Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:02 pm UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:Socialism might not be huge, but it's concepts are; just look at how much talk there is from Obama and friends about full healthcare for all among other things. As a party it's dead, but as an idea it's stronger than it ever has since perhaps the Great Depression.

Nothing Obama has proposed is anywhere close to Socialism. There isn't single major candidate from either parties that is even willing to discuss a single-payer health care system, and some of the most capitalist countries (like the UK) already have that. They may try to pass it off as "universal heath care" because that sounds really good, buts its really not. At all.
InstinctSage wrote:I also find American culture to be very community minded, from what I saw of Oregon, at least. Families bring casseroles to welcome new neighbors when they move in. I had a chat to the postman and he was helping out at a community fair in his spare time. I find that a confusing contradiction that people are friendly and welcoming to one another, yet would say no to social programs designed to help communities, like better public health systems or education.

I think the difference here is whether the contribution to community is government mandated. Americans are fine with giving to their community, helping their neighbors, etc. They just don't want to be told that they are required to. They want to make the decision of how much time or money they will give and who they will give it to.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Game_boy » Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:25 pm UTC

I think the problem here is that we are confusing economic conservativism and social conservativism.

America is economically liberal relative to others (i.e. freer market and lesser welfare state) though I accept that the big business subsidies contradict this.

America is socially conservative relative to others (i.e. it restricts people's rights more in favour of the apparent common good).


The Republicans are economic liberal/social conservative, and so are the Democrats. They differ only by degree. Real social liberalism would be unimaginable to most Americans; as would real economic conservativism.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:41 pm UTC

Game_boy, I think you're going to make the same mistake I did.

We're not talking about classical conservatism vs. classical liberalism, we're talking about "Conservative = what Republicans say is conservative this week".

If you define conservative as "How we run the country" then give them power in 4 of the last 6 presidencies, of course the country is going to look conservative by this definition.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Yakk » Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:49 pm UTC

The first world consists of:
USA
Canada
European countries, mostly in western Europe.
Japan
South Korea
Various small states in south east Asia.
Australia + NZ

...

Europe: Much of Europe was utterly trashed in the 1st and 2nd world war. Entire cities where flattened. The rebuilding efforts required where immense, and often driven by a government policy that required taking resources and spending them where they where needed.

Both Japan and South Korea where built using huge infusions of capital from the US government. It worked pretty well, didn't it?

The various small states in south east asia (arguably Hong-Kong, Singapore, etc) ... vary widely, and don't fit the pattern.

That leaves Canada as unexplained by this model.

Meanwhile, in the USA, it went somewhat fascist during WW2 to win the war, and didn't have a massive amount of destroyed capital so it didn't need a huge project after the war to keep it on it's feet -- it was about the only remaining healthy and fully functional industrial nation.

Who needs socialism when you can get paid huge wages for even menial labor in a car factory?
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Indon » Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:56 pm UTC

I think it's largely cultural, myself. We're a strongly individualistic country, founded upon the concept of screwing the other guy before he screws us, strongly religious, and possessed of great respect for determination and stubbornness and not much respect for humilitary and academics.

This leads to a stubborn, spiteful, hard-working, ill-informed, faithful, and practical people, which has ultimately led to conservatism surviving here in a way that has died everywhere else in the world.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Silas » Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:10 pm UTC

When you say that America is more conservative than otherwise similar countries, do you mean that we are more resistant than they to political and cultural change, or that we currently hold cultural and political positions that otherwise similar countries have abandoned?

It's clear that other first-world countries see in America attitudes and beliefs that, in those other countries, are associated with old ways, but it's far from obvious that America is more resistant to new ideas- that is, changes in attitude- than Europe. In fact, my sense is that it's the opposite.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby roc314 » Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:39 pm UTC

Silas wrote:When you say that America is more conservative than otherwise similar countries, do you mean that we are more resistant than they to political and cultural change, or that we currently hold cultural and political positions that otherwise similar countries have abandoned?
I originally was thinking more the second, but both work well.
It's clear that other first-world countries see in America attitudes and beliefs that, in those other countries, are associated with old ways, but it's far from obvious that America is more resistant to new ideas- that is, changes in attitude- than Europe. In fact, my sense is that it's the opposite.
I would have to disagree there. I don't think that America is completely resistant to change, but they are slower about it. Socially, America has a time lapse in catching on (gay marriage, religious influence, etc.). Economically, we are still way more libertarian than the rest of the world.

Yakk wrote:Europe: Much of Europe was utterly trashed in the 1st and 2nd world war. Entire cities where flattened. The rebuilding efforts required where immense, and often driven by a government policy that required taking resources and spending them where they where needed.

Both Japan and South Korea where built using huge infusions of capital from the US government. It worked pretty well, didn't it?
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby theferrymantune » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:05 pm UTC

My layman idea would be something in the line of having not much history as a country. Therefore common culture/identity being a construct dependent on holding fast. This indeed requires a conservative mentality. Till you wake up or hit a wall of cause. :)
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby frezik » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:36 pm UTC

roc314 wrote:
It's clear that other first-world countries see in America attitudes and beliefs that, in those other countries, are associated with old ways, but it's far from obvious that America is more resistant to new ideas- that is, changes in attitude- than Europe. In fact, my sense is that it's the opposite.
I would have to disagree there. I don't think that America is completely resistant to change, but they are slower about it. Socially, America has a time lapse in catching on (gay marriage, religious influence, etc.). Economically, we are still way more libertarian than the rest of the world.


In 1998, the openly racist National Front party took power in France.

Even limiting ourselves to Social Conservatisim, there are many different measures, and the US comes out more liberal at least in some of them.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby greeneggsnoham » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:41 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:That leaves Canada as unexplained by this model.


I love that Canada can't be explained. I live here and I sure don't understand it.

As for the subject, I think that we outside the country and in the US are deceived in many ways both by the media AND the current republican political strategy. The republican strategy is based not on winning new voters, but rallying the current "base" of the republican party into voting. The more socially liberal side of the country is not nearly seen as often, but from my experience living there, it is very alive and frustrated.

Basically, due to the rather low voter turn out in the US, winning elections is not about winning voters hearts and minds, it's about firing up people you know will support you into getting to the voting booth. As a result, we see the less desirable side of the republican campaigners (Rove) using hot topics to fire up that very conservative element of the country. They use the same buttons every election - Liberals are communists! They're weak on terrorism! They support killing babies! They'll take away your right to choose your own doctor! They'll increase your taxes! Don't listen to the media, they're biased against us!

The result of this strategy is that the people we most often see involved in the political discussion in the US, at rallies and so on, are the most radical right wingers. There are elements of the population like this in Germany, Australia, England, and France too. However, the conservative parties there are not quite as effective at motivating them as they are here. Rove and his team are actually reknown around the world as being probably the most effective campaign strategists anywhere, entirely for this reason.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that in many ways, the current government does not really represent the majority of the US population. Think of Kennedy and the support he had before you state that the US population is more "conservative" than the rest of the western world. It's been a very effective strategy by the republican party to rally that right wing extreme base and flood the airwaves with talk that makes it sound like everyone thinks like they do. However, it's really not that true.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Silas » Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:35 pm UTC

roc314 wrote:
Silas wrote:When you say that America is more conservative than otherwise similar countries, do you mean that we are more resistant than they to political and cultural change, or that we currently hold cultural and political positions that otherwise similar countries have abandoned?

It's clear that other first-world countries see in America attitudes and beliefs that, in those other countries, are associated with old ways, but it's far from obvious that America is more resistant to new ideas- that is, changes in attitude- than Europe. In fact, my sense is that it's the opposite.
I would have to disagree there. I don't think that America is completely resistant to change, but they are slower about it. Socially, America has a time lapse in catching on (gay marriage, religious influence, etc.). Economically, we are still way more libertarian than the rest of the world.

In the first place, if America had a perfect time lapse in catching on, as you say, that would mean that we were exactly as resistant to change as everyone else.

It's Europe that's orthodox (to itself) about things like welfare socialism, labor protections and the relationship between church and state. When the French tried to change their labor laws a couple years ago, riots shut down cities. That's some nasty resistance to change if you ask me.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby AtlasDrugged » Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:51 pm UTC

There are elements of the population like this in Germany, Australia, England, and France too. However, the conservative parties there are not quite as effective at motivating them as they are here.


Not so much England, as its a far-left party that stokes up fear over here. And those on the left are hardly pure when it comes to fearmongering.

Think of Kennedy and the support he had before you state that the US population is more "conservative" than the rest of the western world.


Such support that he barely beat Nixon? Most left-wing icons tend to be political phenomena e.g. Kennedy, Blair, Obama, and I think it's fair to say that America is 'naturally' slightly to the right.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Malice » Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:37 pm UTC

AtlasDrugged wrote:
Think of Kennedy and the support he had before you state that the US population is more "conservative" than the rest of the western world.


Such support that he barely beat Nixon? Most left-wing icons tend to be political phenomena e.g. Kennedy, Blair, Obama, and I think it's fair to say that America is 'naturally' slightly to the right.


We're naturally slightly more to the right than we are to the left; but the problem is that our left wing is everybody else's right wing. As John Stewart put it the other day, the Canadian Conservative party would, in America, be the "Gay Nader Fans for Peace" party.

Which is to say that I agree with you, but for a different reason. Supporting Kennedy, and not somebody even farther to the left, is a sign that the US is more conservative than the rest of the western world.
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby VannA » Thu Oct 16, 2008 11:17 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:The first world consists of:
USA
Canada
European countries, mostly in western Europe.
Japan
South Korea
Various small states in south east Asia.


*cough*

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby telcontar42 » Thu Oct 16, 2008 11:34 pm UTC

Silas wrote:It's Europe that's orthodox (to itself) about things like welfare socialism, labor protections and the relationship between church and state. When the French tried to change their labor laws a couple years ago, riots shut down cities. That's some nasty resistance to change if you ask me.

That's not resistance to change in general, that's resistance to moving backwards. Some people in the government were trying to take away rights that French workers had struggled to get. It didn't piss people off that there was change, it just pissed them off that there was change in the wrong direction.
VannA wrote:
Yakk wrote:The first world consists of:
USA
Canada
European countries, mostly in western Europe.
Japan
South Korea
Various small states in south east Asia.



*cough*

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Sorry. You guys didn't make the list. Australia must be Third World.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Yakk » Fri Oct 17, 2008 12:27 am UTC

I thought I covered you in "various small states in south east Asia"?
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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Fri Oct 17, 2008 12:35 am UTC

telcontar42 wrote:Nothing Obama has proposed is anywhere close to Socialism. There isn't single major candidate from either parties that is even willing to discuss a single-payer health care system, and some of the most capitalist countries (like the UK) already have that. They may try to pass it off as "universal heath care" because that sounds really good, buts its really not. At all.


The American government already spends more per capita on health care than any other countries health ministry, and Howard Dean has stated that he thinks that although we will not have a single payer system immediately, it's very likely in the future. I think if you look through the details of either parties proposals or bills and see how many random handouts are going to specific industries or companies, it's clear that our economic system is becoming one that is fairly controlled.

On a bit of a sidenote, I don't think it's really fair to criticize the US on gay marriage. It's an unreasonably big issue here, but with California now allowing it (go us!) probably some 15% of the population can legally marry a member of the same sex, which isn't all that different from the EU. We might even be better, I'm not sure what percentage of the population Spain, Norway and the Netherlands make up.

Indon wrote:I think it's largely cultural, myself. We're a strongly individualistic country, founded upon the concept of screwing the other guy before he screws us, strongly religious, and possessed of great respect for determination and stubbornness and not much respect for humilitary and academics.

This leads to a stubborn, spiteful, hard-working, ill-informed, faithful, and practical people, which has ultimately led to conservatism surviving here in a way that has died everywhere else in the world.


Are we really that much more "ill-informed" or spiteful than other countries? I have my suspicions that if you walked into the average working class household in Liverpool you wouldn't be all that impressed. Individualism is certainly big, but I don't think many Americans believe that success must come at the expense of someone else's failures.

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Re: Why is America more conservative than other countries?

Postby Silas » Fri Oct 17, 2008 2:24 am UTC

telcontar42 wrote:
Silas wrote:It's Europe that's orthodox (to itself) about things like welfare socialism, labor protections and the relationship between church and state. When the French tried to change their labor laws a couple years ago, riots shut down cities. That's some nasty resistance to change if you ask me.

That's not resistance to change in general, that's resistance to moving backwards. It didn't piss people off that there was change, it just pissed them off that there was change in the wrong direction.

It's still a violent response to a change in the status quo. Isn't "unwillingness to change the status quo" the very definition of conservatism?

You'll get biased results if you assume that every time America has declined to adopt a social or political change that's taken hold in Europe, it's because we don't like changing things. It can be because we don't like that particular change:

Some people in the government were trying to take away rights that French workers had struggled to get.

It'd be equally valid to say that some people in the government were trying to free French employers of an burdens that French workers has struggled to impose. [/threadjack]
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