Zakaria, of course, notes the current high level of partisanship. I’ll add that I think it will stay highly divided for at least the next presidential cycle if the past is any indication. More than a few libertarians I know believe this current partisanship is due to a failure of liberalism to be classically liberal, and instead has slipped into a more Continental Leftist pattern of excess since the 60’s of protest and identity politics. To them, the Right’s response (the rise of overtly partisan news agencies, demagoguery) and redefining the founders intent to combat such excess started out on a good foot, but has merely led to a populist resurgence and unthinking political loyalty (and I would point out, fairly successful) political platform. Perhaps libertarianism rises in opposition to liberal administrations.
Zakaria doesn’t seem to think such a partisan fight is good in the long run. As he’s noted elsewhere, perhaps America’s staying the same, a victim of our successes and stability of our political structures that now serve the past and keep us from the future, while other countries rise and move ahead:
‘It’s not that our democracy doesn’t work; it’s that it works only too well. American politics is now hyperresponsive to constituents’ interests.’
and, like the British after WWII:
“British society grew comfortable, complacent and rigid, and its economic and political arrangements became ever more elaborate and costly, focused on distribution rather than growth. Labor unions, the welfare state, protectionist policies and massive borrowing all shielded Britain from the new international competition.”
In order to break from this potential sclerosis, we have to get away from a kind of insularity, Zakaria suggests, and perhaps looks to copy and innovate (anything, really) from other countries, economies and the strategic necessities (Europe, trade). These tools that have led others to success can allow us to duck our heads for a while and make some changes..
‘This is not a question of too much or too little government, too much or too little spending. We need more government and more spending in some places and less in others.’
Point taken, we need to get over the current partisanship and meet with broader, more urgent goals and innovate, but you don’t turn a ship on a dime. He finishes with:
“In the past, worrying about decline has helped us avert that very condition. Let’s hope it does so today.”
Addition: As a reader points out, perhaps just splitting the difference is not enough in the face of the Affordable Care Act, the current administration’s green ambitions, and a fairly left of center immigration policy. The non-partisan talk is wearing thin.
Perhaps we just need less government, and Zakaria’s approach keeps him relevant along with a more liberal worldview
Also On This Site: Richard Feynman also made a point about bureaucracies after investigating the Challenger disaster: Repost: Richard Feynman at NASA…Henry Kissinger has a few quotations about the necessity and dangers of bureaucracy: .Monday Quotations-Henry Kissinger
How do you save egalitarianism from the egalitarians and their own intentions? (the touch math crowd, the-everyone-learns-in-their-own-way pedagogy) if you need a new round of educational excellence and investment in the future? Bill Gates has noted this problem for a while: A Shortage Of Skilled American Workers At Microsoft?
America in Decline?: Fukuyama seems to think so, but maybe he’s still reeling from the Iraq war…From The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?…Fareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In Decline?…Richard Lieber’s not necessarily convinced: Richard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set..