Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Many people know how much Samuel P. Huntington’s paradigm of American politics means to me, especially his conception of political change caused by the IvI gap. Huntington explains the IvI gap as the gap between the American ideal and America’s institutions. The ideal involves all five ideas of the American Creed—individualism, liberty, equality, democracy, and constitutionalism—approaching their limits. That is, American institutions fully embody all five ideas in the extreme. However, this is impossible as some of the ideas are in conflict. For example,achieving greater equality limits individualism. But the impossibility of achieving the ideal does not keep Americans from pursuing the ideal in their institutions.

The responses depicted above indicate the possible responses to the IvI gap. Periods of moralism, where Americans clearly perceive the gap between the ideal and their institutions and, at the same time, strongly believe in the ideal, occur about every fifty-to-sixty years in American history. During these periods, institutional reform dominates America, and all institutions are attacked for not achieving the ideal. The last period of moralism occurred during the 1960s and 1970s, roughly from 1965 to 1975. The elimination of the gap requires the institutions to become more like the ideal.

So, my questions are: Are we experiencing another period of moralism? Is the 2016 presidential election going to result in reforms that affect our political and economic institutions? Has the basic institution of society—the family—not been reformed by the US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges? What will the reshaped political, economic, and social institutions value? Will individualism, the bedrock of America’s identity, be subsumed to a quest for greater social and economic equality? I surely don’t have the answers, but I believe firmly that "The Times They are A-Changin'."

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