My apologies if you came here looking for something on canoeing. There is a link if you’re interested to photos of the building of the canoe pictured above — bottom of the column to the right. However, the main purpose of this site is to connect you to my study of the current political divide in America. Of course there has always been some division regarding policies and legislative needs, but several things that have happened over the last 25 years or so have widened the gulf between Republicans and Democrats, or more specifically, between conservatives and progressives.
Shortly before the presidential elections in 2000 I undertook a study of these two philosophies of government. I wanted to write something explaining political positions for my grandchildren who were at or approaching college age. I expected to write 10 – 15 pages. Well, the more I got into it the more the project grew, but I felt that I had acquired an understanding well beyond my expectations. So I put it here to share. The paper is roughly a chronology of philosophical opinions that influenced historical events, and the influence of those events on changes in philosophy.
Although I’ve made a few updates since the original I have not gotten into the reasons for the intensity increase of the divide since the election of Donald Trump. It’s an area that is ripe for speculation. I’m not sure that anyone fully understands what some call “Trump Derangement Syndrome”. It is something that affects some Republicans as well as many Democrats. My feeling, without firm evidence, is that it’s a combination of Hillary’s loss and all that means in terms of the Supreme Court, Obamacare, immigration, and a host of Obama’s executive orders, combined with Trump’s combative personality, his desire to engage the establishment of both parties, eliminate many regulations on business, restructure trade, confront Iran, and reexamine many other policies. To that we can add that some of the younger generation seem to be more interested in socialism, suppression of free speech, and other radical ideas. The derangement is on daily display in the mainstream media.
The document has a lot of links to other sites where I found informative material. Over time some of these links were no longer valid. In Feb 2015 I undertook to resolve all broken links and make a few revisions. Because the paper is pretty long I divided it into 14 parts for easier review via the web. In answer to one request I added a link to a PDF of the complete document. That link is at the end of the first section.
Part 1: Introduction; The Significance of Philosophy
Part 2: Historical Context of the Founding; Early Political Concerns; Enlightenment, Rationalism, or The Age of Reason; The Romantic Period and the Industrial Revolution
Part 3: Socialism, Marxism, etc.; Other Social/Economic Voices of the Time; The Progressive Era in America3; Wilson and World War I
Part 4: Experiments With Utopia; The Soviet Union; Benito Mussolini 1883-1945; Hitler and the Nazis
Part 5: The 20s in America; F.D.R. and the Great Depression; World War II
Part 6: Evolving Economic Theory; Harry Truman and the Cold War
Part 7: Cold War Major Events:
Part 8: Truman and the Domestic Agenda
Part 9: The Eisenhower Years; The Kennedy Years
Part 10: Lyndon Baynes Johnson and the Great Society; Nixon Gets His Turn; President Gerald Ford; President Jimmy Carter
Part 11: Islamist Attacks on US and Americans Abroad; The Great Inflation
Part 12: President Ronald Reagan; President George H. W. Bush
Part 13: Opinion Shapers of the Current Era
Part 14: William Jefferson Clinton; George W. Bush; Barack H. Obama; Summary; Conclusion