We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The political reformers of the 1960s brought us the modern primary system along with a vast array of grassroots- and foundation-supported activist political organizations. It was all intended to usher in a time of increased political engagement based on values and ideology rather than simple party power and patronage supported by the supposed, if imaginary, "pocketbook voters" of the past.
It was to be a new dawn for democratic politics - think about Common Cause - and it essentially replaced the smoke-filled back rooms full of shrewd old politicos with the money-people of today that purists, but few money-hungry candidates, now bitch about.
Jon Shields, in In Praise of the Values Voter in The Wilson Quarterly, explains that the (largely) left-tilted activists of the time believed that an ideological intensification of the parties, with an increase of "values voters," would culminate in the grand debate between liberals and socialists, which the socialists would win - leaving nobody motivated to build new businesses or to create new, profitable ideas.
It didn't turn out that way, because, while the Left took over the Dem Party which embraced their new values, the gradual rise of a mainstream Conservative America arose as a powerful force with its own values. Shields explains the disenchantment of the Left with "values voters:"
The chief answer is that they lost their enthusiasm for “values voters” because those voters turned out to have the wrong values. One of the great political ironies of the past few decades is that the Christian Right has been much more successful than its political rivals at fulfilling liberal thinkers’ hopes for American democracy. Liberals built an array of well-funded public-interest groups such as Common Cause, Environmental Defense, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. But most of these organizations asked little more of their supporters than checkbook activism, and some were entirely supported by foundations. The Right, on the other hand, built genuinely grassroots organizations, including Operation Rescue, the Christian Coalition, and Concerned Women for America, whose members mobilized millions of disaffected evangelical citizens through church-based networks. In his famously despairing account of Americans’ civic involvement, Bowling Alone (2000), Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam conceded the point, without appearing to find much solace in it: “It is, in short, among Evangelical Christians, rather than among the ideological heirs of the sixties, that we find the strongest evidence for an upwelling of civic engagement.”
Read the whole thing. I think it explains a lot. Conservative-Libertarian as I am, I think I would prefer to see less ideological parties. (I'd also offer the observation that generally, as one moves from the national stage to more local politics, ideology becomes less prominent and less important. In my town, you could not tell who is Dem or Repub from our discussions of the school budget: they are all trying to figure out ways to extract more money from State and Federal grants.)
Image: No "values" there: you can read about the history of NYC's Tammany Hall here.
While the breakdown to 'liberal vs socialist' wasn't in the cards, the moving of social 'values' into government was... and that was a long term socialist goal. The concept of Marx to embody all of society in government includes those ideas that effect individuals, personally. My problem with the "debate" between liberals and social cons is usually not the object of the debate itself, but having government have any say in those things. That is a blurring of the line between society of government, and when social cons start to see that getting government involved to win their personal views and then have the population pay for them is a winner, then the idea of socialism has crossed over from "liberal" to "conservative".
Old line liberalism (of the rights of man, individual liberty sort) is opposed to progressivism (the shifting of government from its role in restricting social excesses and seeing it as a fountain of good things for society) and its hand-in-hand statist and socialist views. The idea of legislating 'virtue' to be supported by government did not come from the old line liberals, but from those who wanted to end the opium trade because it was seen as a morally rotting thing and hurting society in the Far East. Opium had, by the end of the 19th century, gotten pretty far into everything from headache remedies to cough syrups to 'pick me up' drinks of all sorts. And the first thing that the government did was to mandate the food purity laws which would require labels listing ingredients. That is a function of government: to ensure that people know exactly what they are buying.
The next step of limiting the use via the various acts of congress were to first attempts to limit such drugs and would give the first, and not last, use of the 'stamp taxation power' to mandate that something requires a federal stamp for taxation purposes and then not print the stamps. That overstretch of federal powers did not come from 'liberals' but Protestants changing 'thou shall not' into 'government prohibits'... at taxpayer expense. Anyone who wants to trace Roe v Wade ends up at the Harrison Stamp Act and letting government have any say over what one does with their bodies. Before that it was left up to the States to figure out, and as different populations saw things differently that was the best place to put it. The federal government had no right to step in to prohibit such things... if it wanted to raise a tariff to 300% of value or some such, that would be allowable and still leave the stuff available but rare. From there the path to telling people that if they grow things for their own use they can be taxed or even prohibited from doing so is the end result: exactly where we are today with the idea of a 'national market' in illegal drugs and the underground economy to stop individuals from growing marijuana on their on land for their own use.
So much for federalism.
I find it strange that 'conservatives' support the Raich decision: it is the antithesis of 'conservatism' of the limited, small government sort. So long as a 'national market' can be invented for something by Congress, it then has the ability to prohibit it, regardless of the fact that this used to be left up to the States. I detest PCism pushed by government as much as I detest the thought that government has the ability to enforce morals, as seen in the 'drug war' which not only hasn't been won but isn't going away any time soon. And gives lots of money to folks normally called 'outlaws' in the form of drug gangs, organized crime and, increasingly, terrorists.
This appears to be a shakeout to two groups: Transnational statists, in which the government takes over most of the roles of society on a local, regional, national and global basis, and Nationalists who stick by the idea that the Law of Nations allows for a diversity of mankind to flourish in its own ways and that each Nation is held accountable externally, and holds its citizenry accountable to the Law of Nations internally. Note that only the latter is formulated to allow for individual liberty, freedom and holding government accountable to citizens. The former has ended in authoritarian, totalitarian, dictatorial and, early in mankind's history, imperial regimes.
“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's [academia’s] purposes are beneficial. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”