America In Transition

     For the United States, as for most states in the world, the 1980’s and

1990’s were a time of change and challenge. During this period the effects of
change both within the US and internationally acted as push factors in many
areas of life, including economics and politics. This sudden change was
primarily due to global shocks and recessions, increased foreign economic
competition, the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union, the
development of revolutionary new technologies, the achievement of
post-industrial society within the US, slower rates of domestic economic growth,
and the demographic changes within American society. By the Mid 1980’s
important developments had occurred within interest groups, political parties.

By 1990’s national debates were being held in regard to America’s future in
the post-Cold War world, America’s economic competitiveness, culture, morality
and the states relationship with society. Five major things must be taken under
account when discussing American politics in transition. 1) the basic nature of
the American political system, 2) the sources of political change since the late

1960’s, 3) the conservative renewal and the new conservative agenda, 4) the

Reagan-Bush legacy in politics and public policy 5) the new political and
economic constraints in the era of divided government, and 6) the public policy
environment of the 1990s. At the core of American political culture I support
for the values of liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and
laissez-faire. The nature of this society with also has glorification of the
individual, and the rejection of conservative theories of organic society,
hierarchy, and natural aristocracy. Being an American means accepting this
liberal Democratic creed (laissez faire), while those who reject it are
considered to be un-American. America’s political evolution has also been
shaped by the continental scale of the American State. The influx of immigration
has caused there to be an extraordinary mixture of ethnic, racial, and religious
groups spread across a continent-wide expanse that contributed historically to
strong religious, racial and regional cleavages. Even its econony was spread
throughout the American state. The largest sector of the economy were commercial
agriculture, mercantile capitalism, mining, and heavy (capital goods) industry,
but these, however, were also diversified into product specific areas.

Collectively, the cultural, geographic, and socioeconomic factors had a profound
effect on America’s political development because they reinforced the trend
towards decentralization and localism that had already been established in the
political and legal domains by the American constitution. The US
constitutional/legal order created the most decentralized political system of an
major state in the world. At the national level, under the separation of powers
principle, the executive, legislative, and judicial branches operate as co-equal
parts of the national government in the absence of any constitutionally
prescribed hierarchy or scheme of coordination. The division of the states and
the national government under the principles of federalism further contributes
to the complexity and decentralization of the American government. The
relationship between the sub units, the states, and the national government in
the American federal system is the reverse of the found in other federations;
the US constitution assigned only enumerated powers to the national government
while reserving all residual powers for the states. Although a two part system
developed early in American history, it was organized at the state and local
levels and retained a local focus. This local focus was continually reinforced
by the fact that every political office in the country was elected as the state
or local level except that of the president and vice president. In general the

US public policy has been characterized by cycles of growth and retrenchment in
the scope of national government policy, reflecting the relative strength of the
forces of nationalism and localism during different periods. The periods
affecting the last two decades came from the cold ware, the fall of the soviet,
economic, socioeconomic, the Vietnamese war and the change of the US as a
multicultural and multiracial nation.