Lockean Liberalism Unity: Article Analysis

Dominic Tierney’s article “Why Are Americans So Ideologically United?” is primarily concerned with the national ideology of the United States, which the author explores. Namely, Tierney claims that Americans have a common ideology, which is Lockean liberalism. By such an argument, Tierney implies that Americans embrace a set of values based on John Locke’s ideas. More specifically, Tierney believes that Lockean liberalism includes high esteem of democracy, limited state power, and republicanism. The other concepts that are meant by liberalism in the article are self-determination, the superiority of the law, social equality, and freedom of thought. Tierney assumes that liberalism is deeply ingrained and widely embraced in the United States, being the nation’s identity. He supports the idea by mentioning that many Americans believe that the Declaration of Independence established a guarantee of human rights and equality that is generally sought. Finally, he suggests that what seems separate viewpoints to Americans is perceived as the unified power of the country by international onlookers.

Tierney’s argument is especially significant in the view of considerations expressed by social psychologist Lilliana Mason. Namely, Mason believes that social identity and the drive to compete are becoming more influential in American politics. She contends that, in today’s America, political affiliations are inextricably linked to social identities such as race or religion and that opposition groups have made such characteristics central to their programs. The more a person’s social ties to their party, the more personally engaged they are in its success. As a result of this social polarization, American society is divided along electoral politics. Hence, Mason expects the societal division to worsen as long as the two-party setup fosters blind party allegiance above policy. Such a view implies that Mason would probably disprove Tierney’s assertion regarding the unity of American ideology. In fact, Mason highlights that social differences result in polarized political views, which undermines the idea of oneness in the values that are represented in ideologies. Thus, Mason’s work suggests that Tierney’s argument is not valid.

As for my opinion, Tierney’s suggestion is somewhat oversimplified in terms of American consolidation and identity. First of all, I might agree that liberalism is a supported and widespread ideology of the existing American parties. Namely, both parties claim to be successors of the values of freedom, the rule of law, democracy, and other phenomena mentioned by Tierney. One might argue that there is a severe divide between Democrats and Republicans, with the former being more progressive in their ideas and the latter remaining conservative. However, such an utterance is meaningless since what Tierney means by liberalism is the more broad values, not just policy implications. In turn, both parties ground their programs in civic liberty and equality principles with a commitment to social justice and a market economy that has been tested and confirmed. Moreover, both parties oppose changes to the social safety net and advocate for the government to play a role in decreasing inequality, providing education, assuring access to healthcare, supervising the economic activity, and conserving the natural environment.

However, one cannot ignore the reality of the greater diversity of political thought in the United States, which is not represented by the two parties. By this claim, I suggest that Republicans and Democrats’ governmental officials and policy-makers are only a tiny part of the more prominent American society, which includes people with varied beliefs and values. For example, the ever-ongoing debate regarding party polarization’s negative effect on Americans, which Mason supports, often suggests that there should be more than two parties. Hence, the existence of a need for more inclusive politics adapted for voters with diverse views undermines the argument of uniformity. Therefore, it could be claimed that the current ideological expression of Americans is controlled by two parties, which is not illustrative of all the political beliefs in the country.

Therefore, although the United States has a significant liberalism idea in the roots of its parties, it remains a substantial discussion whether this depiction of the public was and remains to be true. As such, historical political movements in the United States have been affected by ideologies as diverse as republicanism, nationalism, separatism, socialism, monarchism, and nationalism. Moreover, nowadays, the attraction of socialism in the United States is growing, fueled by Black Americans and women. For example, socialist ideas regarding equality are different from Lockean liberalism, which Tierney claims to be a fundamental point of unity for Americans. Voters are more sophisticated and ambivalent than this specific political ideology suggests.

To conclude, I believe that the unity of liberalism, as proposed by Tierney, is superficial in its nature due to the existing two-party setup. Thus, it is not acceptable to articulate national doctrine based on its prominence among the parties, while some voters do not conceive their political views entirely represented by these structures. American political life and thought are more diverse than is represented by the government, which means that Lockean liberalism is not appraised and accepted by all the society members of the United States.