American Liberalism Essay, Research Paper
How has the lack of a feudal tradition in the United States affected American life?
The lack of feudalism in America has affected the way American people understand and view life in many ways. Louis Hartz argued that the lack of feudalism–and the lack of a revolution against feudalism–has made Americans view their liberalism as a Natural Process , it was always there and Americans never knew any other system. He argued that Americans, due to this Natural Liberalism, have become a Nation in which its citizens are extremely individualistic. With the idea that everybody is responsible for their own things in life, some may be less fortunate than others, and that everybody feels that they have the same opportunities to succeed than everyone else. This individualistic approach is seen in every aspect of American life, from the Constitution to the color of lipstick one may choose to wear to the Candidate one may choose to vote for, and has become a trademark of American culture Internationally.
The way the Government handles certain aspects of social life–as heath care and voting–and the way the public reacts to it, is a very clear way to observe the individualistic do it yourself approach that Americans have on social consciousness. As opposed to Europe, where feudalism was present and where a strong Socialist mentality still exists, this country doesn t have a National health insurance program, in which every citizen is covered under a National insurance plan. This is a great example of the do it yourself attitude because many people feel that they shouldn t be paying the insurance for the people who haven t earned it, that they don t deserve to have insurance because they haven t earned it. These people feel that it is up to each individual to get their own insurance because, since everybody has the same opportunities, everybody should be able to get insurance. Voting is another way to see this individualistic thought process in American Government and society. In many European cultures, where there is a strong Socialist mentality, the Government automatically registers every citizen to vote once they reach the proper age. In America, on the other hand, it is up to each individual to register themselves to vote because, once again, everybody has the same opportunities, so everyone must be able to register to vote.
This individualistic sentiment is not only present in the way the American Government works, but also is present in the way American s thought process works as well. When asked what is the best thing about being an American, most will answer that it is the freedom; freedom to do and say as you please as long as you are not harming anybody. This approach that everybody is responsible for their own lives is a sentiment that carries over in every aspect of American life. In a statement on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Governor Jesse Ventura proclaimed that the Government is not responsible for citizens who have made wrong decisions in life, and that if a woman has a relationship and a child with a man who ends up running away, it is up to that woman, not the Government, to get back on her feet because she made an error in judgment when she got involved with that man in the first place. The Government should not have to pay for that person s mistakes. After this statement, I was appalled at the amount of applause that the Governor got because for me it is the responsibility of the Government to look over its citizens and provide aid to those in need. However, my mentality might be due to the fact that I came from a country where there was a strong Socialist mentality, one that is not present in this country.
Many Americans pride themselves in living in a country where they are able to speak and act the way they want to. They are free to raise their children the way they want to, to dress the way they want to, to go to whatever movies they want to; basically, they can do whatever they want to as long as its legal. But how much freedom is too much freedom? When the country with the strongest economy in the world has one of the worst educational systems in the world, there is a problem. This is mostly due to the fact that the National Government is not involved in educational decisions, these being left to the States and, ultimately, to each individual district. This raises serious questions on the equal opportunity issue because if a child in a poor district is not offered the same education as a child in a rich district, some of their doors will be closed along the way and some of their opportunities may never arise. I feel that while it is a great thing that the America is a country where freedom to be is a fact, there are certain things that need fixing, specially when it comes to social consciousness and Government intervention programs. Americans need to go through some sort of social turmoil that would bring all of the masses together. For example what happened in countries where there was a revolt against feudalism, in order to develop a social consciousness, one in which the needs of the masses are met and where the Elite is not always the main focus of attention. However, this may never happen for the lack of a revolutionary mentality. Europeans have this mentality and whenever they feel that there is something wrong, they act. Americans, lacking this mentality, don t feel that they can make a difference or–sadly enough–don t care enough to do something about it.