Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic has a great article about the different ways that social programs are implemented across the nation. Cohn's overarching premise is that conservative states, such as Texas, follow a social Darwinist approach to social programs by only offering the bare minimum, while more liberal states like Massachusetts follow a more "New Deal" type philosophy by providing a broad range of supports to all different types of people. While Cohn is clearly in favor of the Blue state approach, it's not merely because of personal preference. As the article points out, the blue states are doing better. They spend more, sure, but they have lower poverty rates, better education, less of an income gap, and overall better health and wellness.
Cohn's point is that, while there is no right answer in how to approach social programs, there does seem to be ample evidence that some ways just don't seem to work. As he points out early in the article, it's not just political views, but how one perceives the role of government and personal accountability in our world. In the Blue states (which happen to be largely Democratic), the view is that we all have to work together, that there is a social contract that says we all benefit when we help those who need it most. In the Red states (which happen to be largely Republican), the view is that we all have to work hard for ourselves, and no one deserves a handout.
I know that there are people out there on both sides of this issue, and it speaks to one of the greatest debates of our nation's history. Indeed, this could be the fundamental debate of our entire existance, so long as we extrapolate to all the other issues. As I've stated in previous posts, there's no right answer in an extreme solution. No one side is perfect, and we often have the best results when we compromise. But in this debate, in this argument, it seems there is little to compromise on. Both sides see the other as morally reprehensible. That's a tough divide to bridge.
So, is it possible to come together? I think so, but only if we accept that we must. If we are not convinced of that, we have no hope of common solutions to our common problems.