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Political Culture in the United States

Political Culture in the United States

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Political Culture in the United States

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  1. Political Culture in the United States Applying the Principles of the Declaration of Independence

  2. Major Themes of the Declaration of Independence Self evident truths We hold these truths to be self-evident Human equality All men are created equal They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights • Among these rights: • Life • Liberty • Pursuit of happiness Natural rights Purpose of gov’t To secure rights Measure of Justice Consent of the governed Whenever any form of gov’t is destructive of the security of natural rights Right of revolution • Prudence: • Long-established gov’ts shouldn’t be overthrown for “light and transient causes” • Experience: • Men are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves Limits to the right of revolution

  3. Political Culture • A general set of Ideas, attitudes and beliefs • Shapes a region’s politics • Political Cultures in the US may identify with certain principles in the Declaration of Independence • Political culture sometimes confused with ideology • Most communities in the US participate in at least one of the following: • Traditionalism • Individualism • Moralism

  4. Traditionalism Basic features Associated region Advantages Disadvantages Stability Predictability Laws and customs tend to remain constant • Strong attachment to long-established institutions • Preference for traditional ‘modes and orders’ • Suspicion of change • Family legacies The “Old South”: South Carolina North Carolina Virginia Tennessee Georgia Mississippi Alabama Louisiana Texas Inflexibility Lack of social mobility Tolerance of corruption in the public sector Hostility to reform Fatalism Examples: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “You can’t fight city hall.” Uncontested elections Political Dynasties (Bush, Thurmond, Moncrieff, Kennedy)

  5. Individualism Basic features Associated region Advantages Disadvantages Opportunity Privacy Recognition of individual efforts Accountability • Strong belief in self-reliance • Preference for individual and independent action; free enterprise • Suspicion of public institutions • Resistance to regulation • “The Self-Made Man” The “Old West”: Wyoming Texas Colorado New Mexico Arizona Nevada Montana North Dakota South Dakota Isolation Lack of community support Intolerance of public sector involvement Tolerance of corruption in the private sector, provided one isn’t caught Examples: “You’ll get my gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands.” “You’ve got nobody to blame but yourself.” Entrepreneurs, independent contractors “Caveat emptor”

  6. Moralism Basic features Associated region Advantages Disadvantages Community Accountability Active social support structures “safety nets” • Strong belief in community, “commonwealth” • Preference for formal community action • Suspicion of private institutions and interests • Strong regulatory presence “New England”: Massachusetts New Hampshire Connecticut Maine New York Pennsylvania Also prevalent in the Pacific NW and in capital cities • Intrusiveness • Tolerance of corruption in the public sector if it serves the “moral duty” of serving the commonwealth • Inaction unless initiated by community officials • High public debt; high taxes Examples: “Did you bring enough for everybody?” “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you.” Social Security, social welfare programs Public education programs