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The Republican Party triumphed a majority in both houses of the Congress in the fall of 1994. This was the first time since the 1952 landslide of Eisenhower. It was believed by many that the Republicans had achieved the partisan realignment in the end. It also came to be believed that the prophesied Republican majority by Kevin Phillips in the late 1960s had come to reality.
The Republicans under the leadership of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh brought three disparate groups on one platform, namely:
The Entrepreneurial Republicans
These were the ones that celebrated the free enterprise system and sought reduction, even elimination of taxes and government regulations.
The Evangelical Republicans
The Evangelical Republicans perceived a shocking social decay and hunger around them for the return of a moral community made its basis on Christian certitude.
The Eurocentric Republicans
This segment of the Republicans feared cultural relativism in their institutions through the mixing of racial minorities and illegal aliens in their midst, along with loss of jobs in the new global economy. This alliance was significantly white and male dominated in its composition, and has set the tone of the contemporary political debate in the United States.
Theodore J. Lowi
It is the nature of this coalition and its internal contradictions that Theodore J. Lowi examines in his school of thought, as well as writings. In doing so, Lowi traces the birth and possible death of both the current Republican majority and republican government in the United States.
About Theodore J. Lowi
Theodore J. Lowi, the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University, is a highly acclaimed political scientist and an expert on the American presidency. He was the former President of the American Political Science Association (1998). Lowi's works are primarily ideological exegesis. He has written numerous books, including "The End of Liberalism," "Democrats Return to Power: Politics and Policy in the Clinton Era" and "The Pursuit of Justice," which was co-authored with Robert F. Kennedy.
Summary of Lowi's Reasoning and Argument and the Negative Affects According to him
The main argument of Lowi stood that "Interest-group liberalism" fights against democracy and good government, thus taking away its authoritativeness.
Lowi believed that such liberalism corrupted the democratic government by treating all values as equivalent interests. By confusing expectations about democratic institutions, it rendered these institutions impotent. Additionally, it rusted the government's abilities by multiplication in the number of available plans, but no addressing towards their implementation.
According to Lowi, "Interest-group liberalism" demoralizes government because without a value-system, it is unable achieve justice, which is then obviously not an issue for discussion. It decreases the necessary importance of formal procedures and rules, thus allowing too much informal bargaining.
Lowi, in fact, argues against Truman that "Interest-group liberalism" fails because it neither tries to, nor can recognize the greater national interests.
Theodore J. Lowi's Overview on Liberalism
Lowi illustrates the ideological traditions that have dominated American politics and discourse with the famous observation of Keynes that "practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist" (pp. 100, 245). Striving for intellectual clarity and a salvation of political terminology from the journalistic formulae, the analysis of Lowi that is depicted in his writings, begins with the definition of "liberalism" and "conservatism," as these terms have been used by political philosophers, historians, and intellectuals traditionally. He then traces the evolution of classical liberalism into the New Liberalism in the United States that became the dominant public philosophy during the New Deal. When this New Liberalism gave birth to massive government expansion in the 1960s and 1970s, a conservative backlash ensued that led to the Republican era in turn. Lowi believes that the narration of this complex story initially requires a close examination of the liberal principles on which American constitutional government was originally premised.
Lowi's Definition of Liberalism
According to Lowi, liberalism identifies individual freedom as the highest political value, as classically viewed from the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith, and Thomas Jefferson.
Autonomous individuals, who act collectively to create political institutions that function to protect individual rights of life, liberty, and property, constitute democratic governments. Therefore, it is the people, and not the Government that is sovereign. The Government intervention in the workings of society can only be to protect the rights of its citizens.
As a matter of fact, the term "Liberalism" soaks up a great deal of meaning. The liberal tradition in America has numerously been represented either as the hegemonic organizing principle of the American regime or as one among other contested organizing themes for more than two centuries. As a political position and policy repertoire in the give and take of American politics, liberalism has a primary home in the Democratic Party, especially since the New Deal. These foci can be integrated by exploring the shifting boundaries of liberalism between the included and excluded and by examining the extent to which liberalism can be made sufficiently social to embrace groups as well as individual units of agency.
The New Liberalism and its Outcome
Lowi examined the transformation of the traditional understanding of liberalism into Old Liberalism, and the emergence of New Liberalism from the central premises of classical liberalism, as he reprised the arguments. The seed of New Liberalism is seen in Old Liberalism's tenet that the government authority is legitimate only when individual rights require protection. As argued by John Stuart Mill in his essay, "On Liberty," "Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign." Therefore, "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others" (The Six Great Humanistic Essays of John Stuart Mill, ed. Albert William Levi. New York: Washington Square Press, 1963, p. 135).
Lowi makes the important observation that once the objective of averting harm is pressed to its rational extreme, this minimalist view of government becomes an open-ended grant of governmental authority. The constitutional revolution engineered by the Roosevelt administration and the Great Depression of the 1930s damaged the barriers of the judiciary against the expansion of federal powers into almost every aspect of the economy of the nation. This revolution delegated immense authority to judges and bureaucrats that was brought about through judicial acceptance of federal laws, thus expanding federal powers extensively. Lowi understands this development as a response to the 1930's economical crisis. However, he considers its subsequent continuation as unimportant and disagreeable.
The New Liberalism had a totalitarian concern for the prevention of injury, wherever it might occur. This led to the development of a massive, but irresponsible and ineffective federal government (dominated by well-organized interests).
The Emergence of Conservatism from Liberalism
Lowi demonstrated how the crisis of liberalism in the 1960s and 1970s led to the emergence of conservatism as a national political force. He explains this process through a skillful analysis, that is a sequel to his earlier works, of contemporary American conservatism and its roots in the historical experience of America.
While refuting the influential thesis articulated by Louis Hartz in his Liberal Tradition in America (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1955), Lowi argued on liberalism for not being the only American ideological tradition. Lowi believed that it had always coexisted with an "invisible" but equally influential conservative tradition. According to him, the invisibility of conservatism to the federal political structure of the United States allowed implementation of conservative agendas at the state and local levels while enabling pursuit of traditional liberal ideals at the federal level.
National institutionalization of Liberalism took place when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, but the systematic extension of these rights to the states did not occur until activist judges began the same in the 1960s. Consequently, the national government was allowed under federalism to preserve the rights and freedoms necessary for the development of a capitalistic economy. A national police state was prevented, reserving police and regulatory powers to the states. These state-ruled police bodies could enforce restrictions on their personal freedom in the name of religious truth and community norms. Conservatism was viewed as an anomaly and a movement irrelevant to the real and central liberal tradition of America due to its provincialism and a primary influence among the uneducated.
According to Theodore J. Lowi, American conservatism is a part of an anti-ideology that celebrates the authority of tradition, community, and religious absolutes, along with eschew of rationalism and systemic inquiry.
How Liberalism Nationalized Conservatism
Nevertheless, conservatism became a national movement when the expansion of New Liberalism's government encroached on the local police powers that were exercised by conservatives. The cherished commitment to the prevention of injury by New Liberals led to the nationalization of the protection of individual rights that was enforced by activist courts and government agencies to minimize harm to racial minorities, women, atheists, homosexuals, and even flora and fauna, in accordance…[continue]
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