Following President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech to the nation on Jan. 21, listeners had begun to formulate their reactions. Some concluded that it was an ambitious and newly devised plan for Obama’s second term. Others indicated that it was nothing more than a message designed to attack the Republican Party. Both of these opinions may be legitimate. But they both fail to address a significant factor: that this marks a change in the politics of the United States.
That being said, it is evident that the see-saw that is American politics has shifted back to the left. Yes, it is true, the era of Reaganism is indeed over.
In a way, there is not necessarily anything that should be shocking, because this has been developing for several years. To those who did not pick up on the signs, then Obama’s speech would have been the official diagnosis.
He discussed several issues that were previously taboo in presidential inaugurations. Gay marriage would have been unthinkable to mention less than a decade ago. For the next 20-30 years, Americans can expect to take the leftward approach to the way government solves problems in the U.S. Of course, there will be a loyal opposition, because one is truly necessary to the success of the state. But it can be expected that this will be the case for several decades to come.
Upon mentioning this, there will be several who hold different political views (such as myself) who may find this news rather horrifying. Yes, it is a little disappointing. But take my advice when I say that there is no need to worry. These political changes, better known as realignment, are as American as apple pie. This has happened several times beforehand and will indeed happen again. The two most recent shifts occurred first in the 1930s, when the Great Depression ushered in a wave of New Deal Democrats. Then, beginning in the late 1960s and cemented with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, conservative Republicans made their mark. Now, the latter group realizes that its time has begun to dwindle.
Although it may appear as though our country is now plagued by chronic political polarization, it will not last much longer. As the old guard of the Republican Party begins to fade, the newer ones will gradually give way to a more liberal agenda, while nevertheless maintaining some basic party principles. It is also likely that we will see the rebirth of the so-called middle class we once had, more socially conservative while fiscally liberal.
In time, maybe around 2040, the liberals will find that their ideas have grown stale and are no longer popular. Many of the Hispanics that they once courted will now be much higher up economically and will be looking to keep what they believe does not belong to the government. Then, the conservative ideology will be renewed, just as it had been before. But until then, Americans can expect to experience another recycled ideology for years to come, through good and bad.