What will catalyze the US government, economy, and people to return to past prosperity? On Monday evening, during this month's Bradley Lecture, James Piereson of the William E. Simon Foundation and the Manhattan Institute highlighted the three stages of revolution that encouraged the rise of US democracy, industrialization, and world-power status.
First, the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800 led to westward expansion from the small colonial east. Second, said Piereson, the Civil War ended slavery and permitted the industrial sector to prosper. Third, the period leading up to and following World War II established the US as a world leader and super power, and established a period of increased prosperity and welfare spending.
Piereson stressed that America is currently at a crossroads, where two state models (the red Republican and the blue Democrat models) are competing for dominance. According to Piereson, if the blue-state model is dying because of overwhelming cost and slowing growth, then the fourth political revolution will shift the nation in a new direction. This regime change would help reset the system, effectively clearing out interest groups and allowing the US to regain the prosperity of the 20th century through innovation, invention, taking advantage of domestic resources, and incentivizing the work force. Piereson concluded by asking the audience to usher in a real American renaissance.
The US has been shaped by three far-reaching political revolutions: Thomas Jefferson’s “revolution of 1800,” the Civil War, and the New Deal. Each of these upheavals brought about lasting institutional and cultural adjustments that set the stage for new phases of political and economic development in America.
Is America on the verge of a “fourth revolution” that will reshape US politics for decades to come? There are signs to suggest that it is. The post–war system was built around assumptions of continuous growth in standards of living and public budgets, but American economic growth has been slowing for decades. Unprecedented levels of debt, a stagnant economy, and the impending retirement of the baby-boomer generation — mixed with increasingly polarized politics — could bring down the system of governance established in the 1930s and 1940s and inaugurate a new period of instability, shifting party coalitions, and political innovation. In this Bradley Lecture, James Piereson will explain how these changes signify the end of one stage of national development and the beginning of a new one.
If you cannot attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.