Sun Jan 14th, 2007 at 07:39:34 PM EST
I found the following interesting topic on TPM café :
American Exceptionalism: Home of Equality or Opportunity?
By Jo-Ann Mort
David Brooks has a provocative column in today's New York Times about American exceptionalism. It's an homage to Seymour Martin Lipset, the monumental political sociologist who died on New Year's Eve, and who was the intellectual most responsible for the phrase "American exceptionalism" entering modern political discourse.
Lipset, who died in his eighties,was a democrat and Democrat was born of the era when defense of the social welfare state meant defending a commitment to a social democratic ethos of equality. He spent decades examining why the trade union movement was among the weakest in the industrial world, and why Americans believed in a non-class based system. Brooks posits the notion of equality against opportunity, and challenges the Democratic Party to listen to those centrists who promote "opportunity" against the leftward populists who "advocate an activist state." The question is, however, how can we become a nation of true opportunity without the state making certain interventions. This is not only where the Democrats and Republicans part ways, but where the Democrats and the Democrats part ways.
While the election last November was more about Iraq than anything else, as will be the 2008 presidential election, this underlying debate of how all Americans can enhance their ability to be equal is also a critical debate. That's where a Jim Webb comes in and where the new found populism surging following the congressional election will play out. It's a critical debate to be had in the Democratic Party--it encompasses how we debate issues like trade, health care, job creation, public education, taxation and more. Equality is impossible to achieve flying on a wing and prayer of personal responsibility and opportunity means little to those who have little.
An interesting economic argument is beginning along these lines. Check out the Economic Policy Institute for their introduction of a new economic agenda for the nation, released this week. John Edwards is clearly banking his presidential bid on the American people feeling the populist nod. How the others in the Democratic field promote issues of equality will indeed make a big difference in who takes the lead for the party and the nation.
I haven't access to the original article, not being a subscriber to the NYT.
But the issue is surely worth to discuss by Eurotribbers, since it relates to the actual "European exceptionalism" as some want to present it today...