Monday, September 18, 2017
America Acts as One Commonwealth Whenever It Can Check The Southern Grandees
The vision of America as one commonwealth comes from Reformed, Catholic, and Jewish worldviews. The Yankee vision of the city on a hill translated into the progressive policies of the early Republican Party. Catholic social teaching and Jewish repair of creation views were joined to this progressive Protestant view (which had changed parties by then) to underscore the New Deal.
Opposition to the view of America as one commonwealth comes from what Michael Barone calls the Southern Grandees. Marrying racism and exploitation of cheap labor, they have consistently opposed universal social welfare policies. This has been true in every era of America, from Jamestown to today.
The United States has been able to adopt universal social welfare policies when the Southern Grandees have been checked. This was especially true during and just after the Civil War, and partly true in the Depression and the Civil Rights movement.
The Southern Grandees, and their fellow travelers, are dominant at the national level right now. But history gives us plenty of reason to hope they will be checked once again. America is one commonwealth, and will be able to act like it once again.