Liberals and Republicans can unite

The USA and liberalism

The term “liberalism” is often mixed up in the US public debate with terms such as socialism and communism. Accordingly, liberals are, for example, wimps who hate America, burn the flag, etc. So is liberal already to be seen as a swear word in the USA? And if so, for whom? Which social and political groups does this affect?

Since Ronald Reagan, conservative Republicans have tried to use "liberal" as a dirty word. This has a lot to do with the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter, which the Republicans cited as the prime example of failed economic and foreign policy. It was so successful that Democrats, especially Bill Clinton, have been trying since the 1990s to get rid of the label "liberal" and to define themselves as "centrist".

With the emergence of the Tea Party and the swing to the right by the Republicans, they tried to portray “liberal” as directed against the fundamental values ​​of American society (protection of the family, respect for fundamental Christian values, patriotism). It is interesting, however, that this strategy is less catchy today than it was in the 1990s.

As the candidacy of the self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders to the Democrats shows, young voters in particular have fewer and fewer problems seeing themselves as “liberals” because things like the abolition of the exorbitantly high state tuition fees are not seen as ideological items on the agenda. In short, if the Republicans take the polarization to extremes, one can unabashedly consider oneself “liberal” without risk. Hillary Clinton took up this line of interpretation.

If we stick to the form of political liberalism known from Germany and Europe: with which groups are we most likely to find it again in the USA?

We actually find elements in all camps. The civil rights elements more with the Democrats, the reliance on market economy elements and the dismantling of bureaucratic obstacles with the Republicans. If one understands European liberalism as a plea for a deliberative approach to freedom rights, then today liberals would feel more at home with the democrats.

Under the condition of strong polarization, European liberals would perhaps feel best at home with the group of “independents” who want to combine freedom rights with moderate political approaches. But this group is politically homeless in the face of polarization. Your representative would probably be the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, a candidate who has a chance at most in the northeastern United States.

The political current of "libertarianism", embodied by the Libertarian Party, is considered the third largest party in the USA. What distinguishes them in terms of their political values ​​when we compare them with European liberals?

The "libertarians" are an extreme form of liberalism. With the exception of securing rudimentary basic rights and administrative functions, they reject any state regulation of the economy and society (e.g. any state health care), but also value-based regulation of social action, including the prohibition of same-sex marriage, the use of drugs and the possession of weapons. This also includes the rejection of an active foreign policy based on the use of military instruments. In that regard, they are essentially a modern take on American isolationism. Its representatives have recently come from the Republican camp (Ron and Rand Paul), but they contradict the socially conservative and Republican foreign policy agendas, such as increased state interventionism and the redistributive agenda of the Democrats. So they only score occasionally at regional level, nationally they cannot play a role. Which is also shown by the poor performance of Senator Rand Paul in the current primaries.