The right liberal parties tend to attract people who get psychological satisfaction from having competed in the market, earned their own money and raised their own family. These people can say "I did it from my own resources, through my talents and hard work. I can therefore count myself a success."
And so the right liberal parties tend to attract successful independent tradesmen, those working in private industry, small business operators, the married and so on.
The left liberal parties are more oriented to those people looking to state welfare as a guarantee of well-being, such as students, single women and pensioners. They also cater for those who use collective power to advance their interests (unionists) and who are therefore less likely to have that right liberal "I did it myself" mindset. The left liberal parties also appeal to minority groups by telling them that members of the majority group are not successful because of hard work and talent but because of institutional privilege and by promising the use of state power to transfer wealth and status to minority groups.
These differences are seen most starkly in the U.S., as in many other places in the West the right-liberal parties have adopted much of the left liberal point of view (someone like Thatcher stands out as an exception).
Obama is clearly on the left of the spectrum. During the recent election he used the "Julia" ad campaign, showing a woman who uses state welfare for support during the course of her life, and he was also criticised on the right for a speech in which he emphasised that people don't succeed through their own efforts and resources:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
So where do traditionalists stand in all of this? It would be easy for traditionalists to say "Well, we support the right liberal view, in which we think ourselves a success by working hard to earn our own money and raise a family. We reject the left liberal view that white men succeed through institutional privilege (racism and sexism)".
But leaving it at that would be a big mistake. The framework I described above excludes a traditionalist understanding of life. Once we accept the framework as it stands we lose. Our task is to take as many people as we can outside the existing political format.
For instance, where does the current format leave the issue of nation and ethny? The debate is between those who want to do it on their own and those who see whiteness as a form of privilege. So the right wing mentality tends to reject a concept of "white pride" on the grounds that we can't take credit for things we don't achieve ourselves as individuals, whereas the left rejects it as a defence of supremacy.
There is no place within the current format for the idea that a member of the majority might have a positive identification with an ethnic tradition of their own and feel a sense of duty to contribute positively to that tradition.
How would we create a place for such an understanding? We need to extend the idea of what a successful life means. It can include "I worked hard from my own resources to earn a living and support a family". But it should be much more than this.
What matters too is how richly we experience life. And this requires that we avoid being shut in to our own sense of self and losing our responsiveness to the outside world. If we manage to retain a sensitive response, then our individuality is substantially enhanced.
For instance, we might work hard as men and manage to support our families and that is certainly an achievement. But if as well we retain the responsiveness we have as men to our wives, and the paternal love we feel for our children, then we don't lose in individuality but we have a stronger sense of who we are as men and as fathers.
And it's the same when it comes to ethny and nation. If we have a sense of the larger existence of the ethnic tradition we belong to; if we recognise the good that the existence of this tradition represents; if we feel connected to past and future generations; if we feel a pride in the positive achievements of our forebears; if we accept the loyalties and the duties that naturally flow from membership of a tradition; and if we feel rooted within a place and a community associated with our tradition - then our individuality, our sense of who we are as an individual, is immeasurably enhanced.
I do often feel a pride in my Anglo-Australian forebears. Just this morning I stopped off at a suburban park with my family. I hadn't been there before and I was impressed with the care taken to create such a place. The gardens were made generations ago, so obviously I personally had nothing to do with their existence. But even so I felt a pride in my forebears for building so well.
We have to avoid, as the poet Sir Walter Scott put it, being "concentrated all in self". If we are limited to the satisfaction of being self-supported through our own resources, then we risk losing the kind of responsiveness I described and with it important aspects of self and identity.