America is crumbling, and bipartisan deregulation is to blame. Free-market mantras and corporate welfare have destabilized the dollar, bankrupted suburban America, and drained every sign of government activity from the landscape.
On September 2, as he spoke to reporters about the devastation along the Gulf Coast wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, President Bush deflected criticism of the administration's response to the crisis, and then said: "Now we're going [to the region] to offer comfort to the people." This may or may not have been an offhand comment, or a sincere one, but it hinted at a characteristic impulse of American conservatism: the impulse to sentimentalize in response to pressing civic problems, to practice a politics of the heart rather than of the head. That's not only or always true of conservatives, of course, but there's an interesting history to right-wing sentimentalism that deserves special consideration.