Pre-1930s there was much if any public social safety net or social insurance in America at least at the federal level. The 1930s with the Great Depression and the New Deal obviously changed that. But Americans were still expected to work and produce, be responsible and productive and if they lost their job, or couldn’t get a good enough job to take care of themselves there would be a safety net to help them out. Of course the Great Society comes around in the 1960s, but even that we were supposed to be productive and responsible with our own lives. With the safety net there for people who fall through the cracks of the private enterprise system. And I’m sure there are some Conservatives and Libertarians who disagree with this, but that’s fine.
The late 1960s really changed America politically especially with the Left and that is the whole Left and the Democratic Party. For one the Green Party was created because Greens Social Democrats who are socialist on economic policy and dovish and foreign policy and national security, didn’t believe Democrats the party of FDR, Truman, JFK and LBJ were progressive enough. No now you have this more socialist more leftist Left in and outside of the Democratic Party who don’t believe government in America is big enough and that we are too individualistic as a society. And that we need to go way beyond the social safety net concept in America to create a welfare state big enough to take care of everyone. Where no one falls behind or gets too far ahead.
Thanks to the New Left, the Democratic Party from 1968-88 loses 5-6 presidential elections and four of them being landslides. Loses the U.S. Senate in 1980, fails to win it back in 82 and 84 because the Center-Left and Far-Left inside of the Democratic Party can’t agree on what kind of party that they should be. Should they be a liberal and progressive party especially with Dixiecrats moving on to the Republican Party, or should they become the social democratic Green Party. That complains about what type of country America is and bashes our system, form of government and most of the things that we stand for. And tries to transform the American liberal democratic state and become more of a social democratic collectivist society.
What George Will was talking about in his speech was social democracy and the welfare state and what he sees as failures in that type of system. But that is not the type of country that America is yet at least and we are still a long way of becoming that big centralized unitarian social democratic state that you see in Britain and Scandinavia. At least as far as how big the central government is and the amount of that the central government spends and taxes on behalf of its people. But that is what the debate on the American Left. Do we want to remain that liberal democratic state that empowers people to be able to manage their own lives for themselves. Or become a social democracy where the central government takes responsibility to seeing that everyone’s welfare needs are met.