that liberal ideology with the conservativenone fashionable in Washington today.nNeither liberals nor conservatives,nhowever, want to recognize that thenbreakdown of the old and the triumph ofnthe new took place not in 1980, but inn1968, for it was in that year that thenghost of Franklin Roosevelt was laid tonrest at the Democratic Convention innChicago —dividing the DemocraticnParty beyond repair and guaranteeingnthe election of Richard Nixon. Consider:nNixon was the first President who rannwithout the strong support of his party,nwho had virtually no base in his homenstate, who relied on television to packagenhimself as a candidate and who rannhis administration not with party regularsnor Republican politicos but with ancampaign staff which was personallynloyal to him. Hodgson tends to creditnKennedy with these changes, but theynwere far more characteristic of Nixon’snadministration. It was Nixon who firstnenunciated the “silent majority” theme,nthereby attempting to put together a newnmajority coalition of middle-class Americansndisaffected by the various signs ofnsocial decomposition around them.nFinally, there were Nixon’s departuresnfrom Rooseveltian policies: slowing thenincrease in government spending; perceivingnthat inflation, not poverty, wasnthe chief domestic enemy; recognizingnthat America had overextended itselfnoverseas, which led to the policies ofndetente with the Soviets, the SALTntreaty and overtures to communistnChina. In many ways, rightly or wrongly,nthe Nixon administration set the politicalnagenda for at least the next twentynyears. In this context, the Carter Presidencynwas an interregnum, and much ofnthe indecisiveness of the Carter administrationncame from the conflicting pressuresnit experienced —the new-leftnDemocratic Presidency contending withnnew-right political realities, heirs ofnRoosevelt coming to Washington as annantiestablishment cadre.nThe same observations made aboutnthe Rooseveltian coalition and liberalnideology can be made of the Nixonianncoalition and conservative ideology: thatnthe elements of the new coalition—Jewishnneoconservative intellectuals andnCatholic antiabortion housewives, Libertariansnand Moral Majoritarians, businessmennand disaffected labor—are atncross purposes, as are some of theirnunderlying ideologies. How long cannsuch a coalition hold together.^ That isnthe question for Ronald Reagan. Theneffectiveness of his response will give usna new reading on Hodgson’s thesis thatnthe Presidency cannot survive in itsnpresent form. The success of the newnNixonian coalition is not guaranteed,neven though it survived Watergate; wenare not dealing, after all, with inevitablenhistorical forces but with a loosely boundnpolitical amalgam of factions whose respectiveninterests have only recentlynconverged. The outcome of the debatenon the Reagan administration’s new economicnplan will be an early indication ofnwhether the combined opposition ofngroups whose programs are being cutnwill overcome the consensus that thenfederal budget has grown too large. It isnone thing to be in favor of “getting thengovernment off the people’s backs”; it isnquite another to see money being cut outnof a program in which one has a directninterest.nA. third shortcoming in the Hodgsonnanalysis of the governability of thenAmerican people is philosophical. Likenmost political observers today, Hodgsonnis struck by the activity of single-issuengroups and political-action committees.nHe is aware of the centrifugal tendencynof the American polity. This he associatesnwith the unrealistic expectationsnthat our citizens have of the Presidency.nYet I think the cause of the centrifugalitynand ungovernability of the Americannelectorate lies deeper, crossing partynlines and political ideology; it has becomenevident throughout the entirenculture.nThere are two opposing schemes ofnpractical ethics at work in America (andnthe Western world) which clash over thenmeaning of one word —“right.” Onennnethic presumes that all men have individualnrights, and it makes this conceptnthe primary term of political debate, assertingnthat the main job of governmentnis to protect, nurture and develop thesenrights. The assumptions here aboutnhuman nature are Rousseauian, thatnmen are essentially good, that their primarynbenefit lies in fulfilling themselvesnas they desire. Thus they must be accordednthe largest possible degree of freedom,nand the individual is considered tonbe the chief constituent of society. Thisnethic is reflected in demands for expandednwelfare benefits, in the assertionsnof First Amendment absolutists, in thenoutcry against the peacetime draft and innthe rabid protection of homosexualnrights.nThe opposing ethic presumes thatnthere is a universally valid right, that is,nan objective moral rule of right andnwrong, asserting that we each have annobligation to obey this law because it is atnthe fountain of all social relations. Thisnethic is sometimes inspired by religiousnbelief, and it assumes that human naturenis a mixture of good and evil, and, therefore,npart of the function of a society is tonhelp men live the right way. In this view,nthe family is seen as the chief unit ofnsociety with primary nurturing responsibilitynfor the individual. This ethic isnseen by its critics as intrusive and by itsnproponents as the natural order ofnthings. It is reflected in the antiabortionnmovement, in the claims of Moral Majoritariansnand in the demands fornharsher criminal penalties. These competingnethics in our society have deeplynaffected politics.nEvents, I suspect, have propelled thesentwo ethical concepts to the point wherenthey face each other in nearly absolutenopposition. This is why political compromise—andntherefore political solutionsn— are nearly impossible in suchnmatters as crime, abortion and gun control.nIf this ethical conflict is the realnproblem, then Hodgson’s suspicion isnright: the difficulties afflicting Presidentialnleadership lie beyond the reach ofninstitutional reform. But other than anJttly/Attgttst 1981n