Conservatism vs. Progressivism

Nominal Definitions  
 Taxonomy of Democracy

primary source
Conservative Sensibility by George Will

primary source
American Nations by Golin Woodard

Republican Party Nixon's, Today, After Trump

Democratic Party  The Bad, A Renaissance, After Trump

State Capacity Liberalism
primary source
Assessing State Capacity Libertarianism

 Walter Antoniotti 6/21/2

Current Topics

Today's Conflict

Political Parties After Trump from Peter Zeihan

Developing a Federal Government

Fundamental Constitutional Divide

secondary source
The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas

Republic is a free, equal, self-ruling people.
Democracy requires majority rule
as  people disagree.
Possible limits on democracy or majority rule
1. Majority may elect representatives to pass laws.
. Guarantees of individual rights for all, including minorities
3. A constitution that limits what governments can do to mi

Classical Liberalism, supported by today's conservatives
1. high degree of individual liberties, a free-market economy

2. constitutional limits to government power
3. few restrictions on individual freedom of property owners


Priorities Differ

collective harmony
Japan, South Korea

common good
European Social Democratic

individualistic orientation
United States

UK, Canada, Australia and New Zeeland


Conservative Sensibility by George Will
Based on US Declaration of Independence

"We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights
, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
. —
That to secure these rights,
Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers
 from the consent of the governed..." 

Inspired by American Nations by Golin Woodard

Based on US Constitution

"We the People of the United States,
in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish justice
, insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general Welfare

and secure the Blessings of Liberty
to ourselves and our Posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States of America."

Editor's Note: George basis his argument on the Declaration of Independence which explains what the colonies wanted to protect their "rights" from the king of England. Anything that interferes with these "rights" is not allowed. Editor's Note: The Constitution of the United States was needed to help the interaction among independent states. Thomas Payne's famous Life, Liberty and Property was changed to Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. How people lived was important to our founders.

American Conservatism

Preserve the Founders Thinking as custodians of the classical liberal tradition.

Rights are natural. They preexist acts of human will and can not be nullified by such acts. Therefore, if rights are natural, so to is government limited and government's main purpose is to "secure these rights."

Human nature is permanent and statesmanship is to develop a political system, that is conducive to and in accord with, the nature of humans.

Classical Liberalism is called Conservatisms in United States.

The creative arena of human affairs is society which is distinct from government whose proper function is to protect life/liberty primarily for the individual's private pursuit of happiness.
It is the Jeffersonian spirit to be Democratic.

Modern Conservatism Goals

1. Task is to Warn of what is perishable among the freedoms/liberty granted in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution arising from the political appetite for immediate gratification of unlimited wants of the American People.

2. Core Purpose is to reconnect society with the Principles of the Founding. This was the radical worry and Core Purpose of Abe Lincolns political life.

2. Radical Worry is the causal relationship between post new deal government power/ambitions and the fraying of the culture while progressive worry about economic/material distributive justice.

Source: Conservative Sensibility   

See The conservative sensibility video

Tension Between Dynamics of Economic Appetites
and a Need for Political and Economic Discipline
This is the cultural contradiction/consequence of capitalism. The Republic Party's most pressing task is to demonstrate that the political habits of restraint and moderation are compatible with an economic and cultural ambience of a free society. Success is dependent on the political habits related to self-reliance and self-restraint. Virtues of self government are the political habits related to self-reliance and self-restraint.

American Progressivism:
Everything is in flux with various human natures.
Human nature that is always in a state of becoming  and statesmanship
 is the understanding and directing of shaping forces.

New Deal Progressivism of FDR saw society changing with the industrial revolution. A Progressive, he believed in a changing human nature. He expanding government beyond providing conditions for perusing happiness to providing economics rights to supplement Political Rights.

Determining the final arbiter
is always contested. Men say it's them. Relegion say it's God. Who is the final arbiter on economic rights? Editor: For now it is the US Supreme Court is in charge unless the people take responsibility and change the constitution..

Managerial Progressives of the 1960's believed policy elite managers would direct government operations from above and end the business cycles. 

Progressivism Required Capitalist Pay Their Liabilities
that arise from a dependency on manageable social conditions.

Major Reforms:
Agencies for trust-busting led to
Eight-hour work day, minimum wage, worker’s compensation, and social insurance for the elderly, disabled, and unemployed
Early 20th century, FDR of 1930s and LBJ of 1960's 
Income tax
1913 Sixteenth Amendment Direct election of senators 17th Amendment 1913  Votes for women  19th Amendment 1920
Welfare enhancements

Forms of Welfare Capitalism
Liberal model:
safety net for the poor, disabled and elderly individuals
Christian Democratic Community occupational benefits to households
Social democratic-Nordic model has comprehensive universal services for all.

Conflicting complex values of equality and liberty
cause  laissez-faire capitalists, progressives, and socialists to be in a continuing state of turmoil
Types of Equality:
1. Civic equality
before the law
2, Outcome equality requires some kind of socialism.
3. Opportunity equality attempts to uses education,  health care ... to eliminates birth-status. advantages 
Concepts of liberty:
Positive notion of liberty as
1) self-determination

2) fulfillment of purposes or actualization of potentialities
are used to justify communal or governmental adjustment of the outcomes from the aggressive nature of free market.
Negative notion of liberty as absence of coercion connects with less government

Source: The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas

Nixon's Republican Party
Extreme wealth and corporate power are financial constituency of the Republican Party Establishment. But you need to get votes and money and power does not sell to the masses. They needed a voting base. Richard Nixon began the process with his Southern Strategy of attracting Southern racists. Then, because Northern Roman Catholics voted for Democrats, Republicans leaders changed stripes. They became anti-abortion.  This would attract evangelicals.

Republican Party 1970's position had been pro-choice. RR, GHW Bush and most Republican leaders had felt abortion was not the government's business. It was private business and Feds should not be involved. Then they quickly added Gun Rights. This second cultural issue, after abortions, created their acknowledged voter base. These issues were tolerable to their financial base and help hold their voting base.

Legislation to lower taxes and limiting regulation kept the financial base in line. McConnell and Ryan served the money/power constituency while Trump, worked for the rich and kept voters entertained.

Recent Republicans presidential hopefuls desired by the voting base were not acceptable to the party establishment, the donor base. Year after year the base was crushed. Think M. Beckman, H. Cane, and R. Santorum. But in 2016, the establishment could not crush Trump, the candidate wanted by the "primary" voting base.

Democrats Replaced Moderate Republicans.
A new liberal period was firmly established by the 1970's.
It shifted both political parties to the right.
The Democratic Party pretty much abandon the working class.
Their last attempt to help workers, the 1978 Humphrey Hawkins Act,
did little as Carter allowed for voluntary requirements.
Democrats replaced moderate Republicans.

Republicans Shift Off the Spectrum.
Republicans shifter far to the right, "off the spectrum."
AEI's T. Mann N. Ornstein described this new group as a radical insurgency.
They had abandoned parliamentary politics.

The Republican Party Civil War 2008-2016
Libertarians vs. Neocons
Evangelicals vs. Cultural Moderates
Big Spending Pragmatist vs. Small Government Purists

Trump Wins 2017-2020
Disputes over policies and principles replaced in voters mind by
 "Are You With Trump or Not."  All House members facing midterm elections could
Back Trump or Risk Being Humiliated, Ostracized and
Challenged by a Trump supporter in their primary.
Only 1/3 of the US Senate faced this issue.


Trump's Bedrock Beliefs

Globalization is irredeemably injurious to American Society. Its unrestricted immigration, unlevel trade deals, and unchecked foreign cheating have undermined American business and workers. The failure of both parties to advance relevant solutions to check these systemic issues that plagued much of the electorate was Trump's trump card because During the 21st Century, the Republican Party morphed from
1. fiscal Sanity to one of historic spending Increases
2. family values to one of grab them by the c ...
3. compassionate conservatism to banning all Muslim immagreans.

from Congressman Jeff Flake

20th Century Republican Party

1. Limited Government
2. Economic Freedom and Free Trade
3. Individual Responsibility

21st Century Republican Party

1. Nationalist
3 Anti Immigration

buy the book American Carnage


from Senator Bob Corker

1. "America is a force for Good in the World ..." The post WW2 institutions have been "mostly very beneficial to the US and our citizens." Trump does not believe this.

3. Free Trade has been an outstanding thing for the American people, our country and GDP. "This president is a protectionist."

4. "Fiscal issues matter. He's not even close to being a fiscal conservative."

5. Domestic institutions that are fundamental to our Democracy are important because even though every institution needs oversight and can be improved, they helped make America great . "Not him .."

 "American Carnage"  68 min video Buy the Book

 Part III: Political Parties After Trump

The End of the Republican Alliance

Peter Zeihan on January 15, 2020  summarized by (

Life After Trump Part IV:
Building a Better Democratic Party…Maybe

By Peter Zeihan on January 21, 2021 Summary by Walter (

Let's start with the bad, move on to the worse, and end with a likely post-Trump path that most of you are going to absolutely, positively loathe.

The bad: The Democratic coalition's failure to win the big elections is explainable, understandable, and not about to change.
Most recent Democratic generations feel that they should be the country's natural ruling party because their strategy has yielded considerably more registered Democrats than Republicans plus they are the party of the young and minorities. American demographics will steadily shift in that direction leading to ore and more Democratic Party members. The feeling hasn't worked out. The Republicans have captured the White House about one-third more often and Democrats and who haven’t held both houses of Congress for consecutive sessions since the early 1900s.

Party infighting.
Republican factions – national security, fiscal, business, and pro-life evangelicals – do not fundamentally object to the pet policy preferences of their allies  makes for a stable voting bloc. Democrats are constantly at one another's throats. Single mothers disagree with the youth vote on subsidizing college tuition. Greens and unions spar over industrial policy. Gays and Blacks define equal rights very differently. Taking a stance on most is guaranteed to alienate at least one faction and all but ensures that not all Democrats will vote.
A charismatic candidate who doesn't talk policy which would increase turnout is needed. It helps to have someone to run against like  Richard Nixon after Watergate, or George W Bush during the second phase of the Iraq War, or Donald Trump in the aftermath of the hell year of 2020. Yet in 2020 Democrats only won the popular vote 52:48 and they lost seats in the House of Representatives. If not for Trump's conspiracy-riddled period leading up to the Georgia run-off elections on January 6, the Republicans would have maintained control of the Senate..

The worse: Democrats are losing the numbers game and could soon be kept out of power.

1. Organized labor is unhappy for 3 reasons and no longer offer unquestioned support.
Globalization caused a lot of low and mid-skilled manufacturing capacity to decamped America.

Cultural aspect limited union success to old-school manufacturing and coal mining. But, they flourished  over a half century ago when most of the people with the "good" jobs were white males who invariably lost their jobs.
Technology is complicated. Unionized workers haven't kept up with technology of the Digital Age.  New technologies like 3D-printing have enabled production to relocate quickly and easily outside of unionized areas. As a result, Tech has globalized its supply chains into many small pieces scattered across the world.
Free trade  allowed access to cheaper goods while allowing some American workforce to focus on big value-added stuff like product design. As a result, from 1985-2015, most Congressional Democrats joined with business-led Republicans in pushing trade deals through Congress. But,  too many blue-collar workers got unemployment and opiates addiction.
Most private-sector union workers engage in physically demanding work. As a rule, such occupations are filled with mostly white workers who have limited multicultural experiences and who are more grounded in traditional society of church and family. They tend in the general direction of social conservatism. The result is union members have been inching toward being Republican for about  the past two decades. Trump gave them a social conservative, anti-trade, anti-tech politician and they went in whole hog.



America's Hispanics are generally thought by both parties to be Democrats. Opening America's southern border to unrestricted in-migration helps Democrats win the numbers game. Economics is the main concern of left leaning first-generation Hispanic-Americans and undocumented Hispanics.  But those who are undocumented cannot vote so an open border generates no immediate gains. As the generations tick by, the underlying social conservatism of many Hispanics-Americans increases.  Regardless of generation, Hispanics are not nearly as pro-blue as other minorities.

The "Hispanic" voter cohort includes Spanish speakers such as Mexicans, Spaniards, Argentineans, Colombians and Puerto Ricans plus  people of Native descent who have never spoken a word of Spanish in their lives. More diversity exists. "Cubans living in New Jersey and Florida are historically, culturally and politically distinct."

Pollsters tell us Hispanics list economics and health care as their primary concerns, but Democrats focus on border issues and immigration. Democrats stressing how Hispanic-Americans "should" care about these issues does not go over well. It seems Multi-generational  Hispanic-Americans, especially in  Texas and Florida,  tend to be most conservative on immigration. Trump messaging to them was different.  The day House Democrats voted to impeach Trump, AFL-CIO labor leaders were in the Oval Office glorifying Trump for his inclusion of labor's concerns into the NAFTA2.

Just as with the unions, the Democrats have taken Hispanic-Americans for granted while Team Trump was  speaking to the concerns and fears of many Hispanic-Americans. And so Trump captured most counties on the U.S.-Mexico border and increased the Republicans' Hispanic-American vote in Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Ohio. Democratic demographic self-delusion could soon permanently disable them. The new Republican Party is exclusively social conservative and more cohesive than the old Republican Party which was already more cohesive than the Democrats. m

A Democratic Renaissance?

Party Fractioning
Republican Infighting may increase
as the old guard business, national security and fiscal conservatives – attempt to recapture their party from social conservatives plus putting populist genie back into the bottle will be anything but pastoral.
Leveraging the internal factional conflicts
wracking both parties to trade up has intriguing possibilities.
1. Ignorant arrogance of the hard Left may prove their undoing. As the natural ruling party, Democrats  have encouraged litmus tests for candidates who must commit publicly to a lengthening list of ideologically liberal purist positions.  Such efforts usually end in disaster. In the 2018 midterm elections, hard leftist Democrat candidates failed to flip a single Congressional seat. In the 2020 elections, being pure nearly cost the Democrats the House and the Senate and the Presidency.
2.  Ideological litmus tests has been applied to voters.  In 2020, the woke Left loudly insisted that anyone not rank-ordering racial justice most important was a racist. Telling 90+% of the American population that they are racist is a guaranteed way to lose support. Trump received a greater proportion of Black and Hispanic votes than any Republican in modern history. Gays once again sent roughly a quarter of their votes to Republican candidates.

3. Joe Biden is not an ideological purist and  has purged the Democratic Party of not just wokeness, but of the entire leftist wing of the party.
He repudiated cherished leftist positions on the Green New Deal and packing the Supreme Court.

1. Got Barack Obama to denounce wokeness and cancel culture.
2. Replacing student debt forgiveness with a short-term debt payment moratorium
    until 9/1 when economic recovery should accelerate.
3. Nominated Janet Yellen and not Elizabeth Warren as Treasury Secretary.
4. Biden nominations are not radical. Few are inspired choices, but none are
    ideological crackpots.

Republicans party carnage.
 Donald Trump's showed wretched judgment by courting of violent extremists and drawing them to DC on January 6. Then hurling them against the Capitol and causing the murder of his own law officer was beyond the pale.

Millions of rightist populist voters came into mainstream not for the Republican Party, but for Trump. To keep them. the Republican Party has been loath for and to expressly condemn and purge Trump. Refusal to dismantle Trump's cult of personality meant the Republican Party was no longer is the party of law & order.


Democrats' likely post-Trump path

Business community could join the Democratic Party.
The political faction that is most concerned with law & order issues
is the business community…and Team Biden has noticed.
 1. Eight years of Obamaesque inaction and four years of Trumpian irregularity has businesses taking a more active role in usually exclusive government functions. As the social chasm between business and the Democrats narrows, boardroom discussions involve environment, immigration, education, income/racial inequality, civic planning...
2. The ideological chasm has similarly narrowed
One reason why the business community has been solidly Republican is unions and socialists have been solidly Democrat. While business social consciousnesses may be evolving, recent evolutions – unions taking flight for the new Republican coalition and Team Biden's isolation of the socialists – means business could take charge of, among other things, party economic policies.

Politics evolves.

The end of the cold war, digitalization, and the rise and consternation from Globalization will not allow politics to remain as it was. This political reshuffling is America's seventh and the last occurred in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Before then, business leaders were…Democrats.

Many with an entrenched ideology, even with the unions gone and socialists purged, will be reflexively oppose to allying with business. The required intellectual contortions from elderly Democratic leadership will be difficult. But, I think the businesses community joining the Democratic Party faces better than even odds because Biden has no personal ideology. His views are based on whatever political winds have been blowing at the time. That makes him less principled and  more pragmatic. Business must participate in a political party and with their being willing to pay their way, they can help ameliorate problems.
I don't know if Biden is what the country needs. He utterly lacks leadership or management experience, so I have even less upon which to base a forecast than I did for Trump four years ago. We'll find out soon enough. But I'm pretty sure that if the Democrats' goal is to actually stay in power, Biden's pragmatism is exactly what his party needs.

State Capacity Libertarianism

What libertarianism has become and will become— State Capacity Libertarianism

by  Tyler Cowen   Walter Antoniotti

Related Tyler Essays

Assessing State Capacity Libertarianism

Paradox of Libertarianism

Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals

Higher Quality Government and Governance

See Political Dialogue from the Left Right and Middle

State Capacity Libertarianism Propositions

1. Markets and capitalism are very powerful-should be respected

2. Strong states, which maintain and extend capitalism/markets must keep national hegemony like China at bay, keep elections free from foreign interference,
protect intangible capital/intellectual property, and manage the new world of the internet. Maintenance and extension of capitalism are primary duties.

3. Strong state is not a large or tyrannical state. 

4. High rapidly developing state capacity is not inherently tyrannical.  Rapidly developing Demark has a large government and is free and secure, albeit not for everybody.

5. Some America failures come from excess state regulation, others from state capacity. Examples include climate change, K-12 education, traffic congestion, quality of state discretionary spending, maintain physical infrastructure, manage immigration. All require state capacity not appropriate for classical libertarianism.

6. See Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals.

7. Recent East Asian living standards growth has centered on capitalism/markets. State Capacity in both the East and West dramatically improved Public health. State Libertarianism accepts such progress while preferring more markets/less government.  

8. Geopolitical problems have center on Africa and South Asia. Both lack markets and state capacity.

9. State Capacity Libertarians advocate better infrastructure, science, nuclear power and space programs as compared to mainstream libertarians and modern Democrats. Modern Democrats usually favor redistribution, egalitarian/fairness concerns, mood affiliation, and traditional Democratic interest groups.  Modern Democrats running New York have done little building and fixing.

10. State Capacity Libertarianism has no problem endorsing higher quality government and governance.

11. State Capacity Libertarianism advocates alliances with other relatively free nations.  Example: US foreign policy has resulted in Asian Pax Americana  predominating. The libertarian anti-foreign intervention continues because governments make mistakes.


Today's Conflict: 
Conservatives want Founder's Thinking Preserved.

Progressives want
to direct
society's shaping forced on
social engineering.

Society's choice for final arbiter
is always contested.

Men say it's them.
Relegiouse say it's God.
Who is the final arbiter
on economic rights?

For now it is  the
U.S. Supreme Court


Arnold Schwarzenegger: "President Trump is a Failed Leader"

Will Democrats Help Trump?
Democrat inspired  Russia Gate could be helping reelect Trump.
Serious election interference doesn't exist or is undetectable.
At most in is very small, and much less significant than Israel's Netanyahu attack on Obama's policy speech before.

Business collusion with Russians is just as dubious, at most, it is minor corruption. Making it a major part of their anti-Trump campaign could be costly to Democrats. But, it allows Democrats  to ignore fundamental issues like global warming, the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, and business/environmental regulation. Source