It’s an analysis familiar to most on the Left. Support for laissez-faire is a hypocritical pretence, typified by Republicans who denounce a universal health care scheme as “socialist” while backing huge handouts for wealthy sugar producers.
For cultural and historical reasons, the United States has never had a proper socialist party of any significance. Instead
the socialism we do have is the surreptitious socialism of the strong, e.g. sugar producers represented by their Washington hirelings.
In America, socialism is un-American. Instead, Americans merely do rent-seeking — bending government for the benefit of private factions.
As I say, familiar stuff. But it’s mildly surprising to see it coming from George Will.
Of course, I’ve been a little mischievous here (and as usual, haven’t included the irony alerts). For Will, the answer is not to do socialism properly, but to rescue conservatism from what he correctly describes as its current intellectual chaos. But, it’s not hard to read his article as suggesting that, absent success in this endeavour, Americans ought to prefer a coherent social democratic policy in which the power of government is directed at real social problems to the kleptocratic “big government conservatism” of the Bushies.
Now, with no mischief or irony at all, let me declare my agreement with Ramesh Ponnuru whose demolition of the “US is a centre-right nation” meme is the most succinct and precise I’ve seen.
I can see the point of saying that the country is “center right” if the point is that we are, compared to most developed countries, a bit more religious, free-market, and nationalistic in orientation. If that’s all it means to say “center right,” though, we could probably go through a long period of political domination by liberals and still qualify. And I’m not sure what else the phrase could mean.
This is spot-on. The centre-right meme is, as Pauli used to say, not even wrong.
fn1 Apologies to Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, but their support was never broad or deep enough to challenge the Rep-Dem duopoly.