American presidential elections are the world’s most public display of the democratic process. The global media follow the American elections with a fervor that is easily understood — what happens in an American presidential election matters all over the world. Our presidential campaigns are political pageants and electoral dynamos. But, as any honest thoughtful observer will understand, our elections are also great worldview exercises. We reveal our worldview by our vote.

This is particularly true of the 2012 election. The presidential nominees of the two major parties represent two very different worldviews and visions. President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have adopted policy positions that place them in direct conflict, and the platforms of their respective parties reveal two radically different renderings of reality.

Years ago, Governor George Wallace of Alabama remarked with disdain that there is not “a dime’s worth of difference” between the Democrats and the Republicans. In a sense, he was at least partly right. A look back at the platforms of the two parties in the 1950s and 1960s reveals little division over many of the issues that now frame our national debate. Some of today’s issues were simply missing, of course, given the fact that they were not even part of the national conversation. But on issues of the economy, foreign policy, the function of government, and a host of other issues, the parties held positions that were far closer than is the case today. Divisive issues such as the war in Vietnam would be addressed with different policy proposals, but the platforms of the two parties reflected a shared moral and political framework — a truth that would shock many Americans today….

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