The Cato Institute's David Boaz, who seems to have been churning out a lot of good quotes lately (see here and here), had an excellent article in the Lima News earlier this month. His subject was "The Hillarys and the Huckabees", the two groups that threaten individual freedom in the United States.
The Huckabees, named after Republican primary also-ran Mike Huckabee, are the big government conservatives who want government to fill God's shoes, stamping out sin and telling everyone what to do and what not to do. They're the people who reject the social liberation of the 1960s. As Boaz puts it:
[They] want to censor cable television because they don't think you can be trusted to decide what your family should watch. They support bans on drugs, pornography, gambling and violent video games because you just don't know what's good for you...
Meanwhile, the Hillarys (no prizes for guessing who they're named after) reject the economic liberation of the 1980s. They "want to raise taxes because they think they can spend your money more wisely than you can. They don't believe in school choice because you don't know how to choose a school for your children. They think they can handle your retirement savings and health care better than you can." In short, the Hillarys want government to treat citizens as parents treat children – the nanny-state writ large.
Fortunately, as Boaz points out, the US has a natural inclination towards libertarianism and has so far been able to avoid the excesses of both camps. I think it's a pretty good analysis of American political dynamics: a libertarian default position, embattled by two powerful forces for statism.
I'm not sure it can be easily translated to the UK though. For starters, despite our liberal history, we lack a widespread libertarian ethos – sixty years of the welfare state has seen to that. Similarly, much of our 'political class' (not least the present government) are both authoritarian and economically illiberal. Nonetheless, I'm confident that the political wind will change before too long.