There are some important ways in which these countries differ.
The advanced industrial democracies do not repudiate the wholehearted substantive guarantees of communism, but they do not tolerate substantive economic policy.
In order to better understand what American culture supports and does not, we have to explore these differences in more detail.
When we say that American political culture is procedural, we mean that Americans think government should guarantee fair processes, such as a free market to distribute goods, majority rule to make decisions, rather than specific outcomes.
The social democratic countries of Sweden,Denmark, and Norway believe that the government should try to realize the values of equality in order to guarantee a certain quality of life for all citizens.
Government can be evaluated by how well it produces substantive outcomes, not just how well it guarantees fair processes.
Americans are generally more comfortable trusting that the outcomes of public policy will be good because the rules are fair, even though American politics sets some substantive goals for public policy.
Although the American government is involved in social programs and welfare, and took a big step in a substantive direction with passage of the Patient Protection andAffordable Care Act, it aims more at helping individuals get on their feet so that they can participate in the market.
Americans are seen as responsible for their own well-being because of the individualism of the political culture.
The collectivist point of view holds that what is good for society may not be the same as what is good for individuals.
When Americans are asked by the government to make economic sacrifice, like paying taxes, it is more unpopular and less generous than in most other countries.
When war or a national crisis occur in the United States, a collective interest that supersedes individual interests is invoked.
This is similar to the American notions of self-interested and public-interested citizenship we discussed in Chapter 1.
The Nordic countries tend to have more collectivist political cultures.
One of the reasons that the social policies in the United States are not as substantive as those in the Nordics is that they have a sense of themselves as a collective whole.
Sweden used pension funds to equalize the wages of workers so that more profitable and less profitable industries would be more equal and society would be better off.
Americans would reject this policy because it violated their belief in individualism.
When we look at the different meanings of three core American values, we can see our American procedural and individualism perspective.
Democracy in America is based on consent and majority rule.
Americans believe that democracy should be used to make political decisions, to choose political leaders, and to pick policies for the nation.
It is seen as a fair way of making decisions because everyone is heard in the process and interests are considered.
We don't reject a decision because it isn't fair, we reject it because it's democratically made.
The value of freedom is defined as freedom for the individual from restraint by the state.
The view of freedom is procedural in that it provides that no unfair restrictions should be put in the way of your pursuit of what you want, but it does not guarantee you any help in achieving those things.
When Americans say, "We are all free to get a job", we mean that there are no legal barriers preventing us from applying for any particular position.
A substantive view of freedom would make it possible for us to get a job so that our freedom meant a positive opportunity, not just the absence of restraint.
The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, guarantees our basic civil liberties, the areas where government cannot interfere with individual action.
The civil liberties include freedom of speech and expression, freedom of belief, freedom of the press, and the right to assemble.
Americans believe in economic freedom, the freedom to participate in the marketplace, to acquire money and property, and to do with those resources as we please.
Americans think government should protect our property, not take it away or regulate our use too much.
Our commitment to individualism is also apparent here.
Equality is a central value in American political culture.
Equality is probably the most clear example of the values we hold dear.
Government should guarantee equality of treatment, of access, of opportunity, but not equality of result.
We don't expect everyone to finish in the same place or start from the same place, but we do expect people to have equal access to run the race.
We believe in political equality and equality before the law, that the law shouldn't make unreasonable distinctions among people, and that all people should have equal access to the legal system.
The courts have to decide what constitutes a reasonable distinction.
Even if the goal is to make people more equal in the long run, many Americans get upset when the rules treat people differently.
There is controversy surrounding affirmative action policies.
To remedy the long-term effects of discrimination, the point of such policies is to allow special opportunities to members of groups that have been discriminated against in the past.
Such policies are against our commitment to procedural solutions.
They wonder if treating people differently is fair.
To live as a nation, citizens need to share their views of who they are, how they should live, and what their world should be like.
They break apart if they don't have a common culture.
citizens who are different in other ways are unified by political cultures.
Americans achieve national unity through a political culture based on procedural and individual visions of democracy, freedom, and equality.
Explain how the United States is a country and a culture.
Most Americans are united in their commitment to a political culture based on proceduralism and individualism and to the key values of democracy, freedom, and equality.
This shared political culture gives us a common political language, a way to talk about politics that keeps us united even though we may use that common language to tell different narratives about who we are, what's important to us, and what direction the country should move in.
There are different interests, different beliefs, different prejudices, and different hopes and dreams.