Just how much common ground is there between progressives and traditional conservatives? Not enough to bring them together, say some critics of my suggestion to forge a new type of political alliance. The two groups might share a distaste for the current state of government, they argue, but this distaste has come about for very different reasons.
Conservatives blame big government for our nation’s problems, while progressives blame big corporations. Conservatives want to reduce the influence of Washington on the business community, and progressives want to reduce the influence of big business on Washington. It might appear that the two are mutually exclusive philosophies that could never unite politically, even as strange bedfellows.
Supporters of my suggestion, however, say that this is a false dichotomy. They claim that in today’s political environment, there is little difference between government and business. The two are not competing powers with their corresponding constituencies on the left and the right. Instead, they now act as one unified interest, over and against the interests of the people. The only way for this unified interest to be stopped is for people from both sides of the old spectrum to recognize their common enemy and unite in resistance.
Oddly enough, I agree with both the supporters and the critics. The supporters are absolutely right in that government and big business have slowly merged into one all-powerful political force, manifest in both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The people, trapped in this corporate-controlled two-party system, have been consistently pitted against one another as the plutocrats have consolidated their power. Citizens from the left and the right, if they want their power back, have no choice but to look for some type of friendship with one another. . . .
Progressives and traditional conservatives, however, will not be able to forge a lasting alliance. There is no possibility for a permanent post-partisan world. The two groups do have very different ideas about the ultimate direction of this country. Progressives envision a government that is strong in providing a social safety net and other benefits for the people. Conservatives believe in limited government and the “invisible hand” of the free market. These two basic ideologies will forever be in opposition.
And I believe that this natural opposition is what has made our nation strong throughout its history. The back and forth rivalry of left vs. right has insured that neither the government nor business has gotten too strong. It has kept the power in the hands of the people.
Lately, however, business and government have created an unholy alliance against the people. This ascendant corporatocracy is threatening to unravel our democracy and turn us into a nation where the wealthy few rule over the majority in poverty.
From time to time, the people on the left and the right must unite to fight off this common plutocratic threat. From time to time, the paradigm must shift from liberal vs. conservative to corporatist vs. populist. Once the people come together and defeat the corporatist threat, they can then go back to their competing progressive and conservative visions for our nation. But if progressive and conservative citizens continue to view each other as the enemy, the real enemy will achieve complete and final control.