Liberalism it is said, was founded on the ideas of liberty and equality. Our founding fathers looked at John Locke’s ideas and relied upon them very heavily in their view of things. Locke looked at man as having a natural right to life, liberty and property, and that there should be a social contract between government and the people.
The far right of today would impugn and in fact they have impugned the name of liberal as if it were some cuss word. Calling those who accept themselves as being liberal, statist. These neo-conservatives seek to divide we the people along ideological grounds. There is a definite lack of respect for those who believe differently.
To put it bluntly the far right, radical reactionaries lie and spread fear and hate in order to maintain or gain power. When a reactionary speaks of a liberal he claims that liberals believe in the supremacy of the state, that liberals reject the Declaration of Independence and the order of a civil society whatever that is supposed to mean. All of these claims are untrue. Be skeptical of those who would wrap themselves in the flag while claiming that others who do not believe as they do are un-American. We all love our country, whether we live in so-called red or blue states, pink or purple, we are all Americans and we have come to this country from somewhere else.
The neo-Conservative, Tea Partier talks about losing our cultural identity. I’m sorry but what does that mean? We all come from a different culture whether our relatives came from England, France, Japan or Kenya; we all came from a diverse background which makes this country unique and wonderful. What this sounds like is some kind of racial profile. I don’t mean to denigrate the fact that there were Native Americans already here and who represent the only original culture.
During our history, our political system has had examples of President’s who combined both beliefs, conservative and liberal. In fact I can not think of one President who was purely a liberal or a conservative because like the rest of us they had different views of things dependent on the issue at hand. Some in fact were just darn right pragmatic and they only cared about what worked. You could call them the Julia Child’s of Presidents because they would just throw an idea on the wall sometimes to see if it worked.
We citizens who associate ourselves with being moderate, have a mixture of conservative and liberal beliefs. Show me a person who only believes in a conservative or liberal standard and you will most likely find an ideologue.
We never experienced feudalism in this country and one can argue that as a result of our settling in a new world, we began this country under a liberal belief system. Our immigrant ancestors came here and braved horrible conditions to have religious freedom, to have freedom from political oppression and we can here for economic opportunity and countless other reasons. We also brought with us the traditions of English common law and we came believing that just because we lived in the colonies we still had the rights of Englishmen handed down since the Magna Charta.
Presently, we may have come to the place that Alexis De Tocqueville warned about. He once said that,” I can not help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step towards revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all.”
My friends isn’t that where we are today? Congress is on the way to setting another ignoble record for ineptitude with the fewest bills passed. Our infrastructure is collapsing and our education is in a state of decay as we insist on test scores instead of educated young men and women.
It would be a huge mistake to accept the notion that only if you are a conservative will your beliefs be okay. It is un-American to set us against each other.
America has exhibited both conservative and liberal tendencies since the beginning of our country. Jefferson believed in limited government but when he became President his actions were not conservative. You will not find the idea that a President could buy the Louisiana Territories from anywhere in the Constitution. Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark out to explore and expand our nation from coast to coast. Where in the so-called express clauses of the Constitution will that be found? Would any of us change what he did, of course not. He became a strong executive.
Some neo-conservatives claim that liberals believe in the perfectibility of men while they believe that man is fallible and with original sin.
Man has the ability to reason, why shouldn’t we use that ability to reason to make people’s lives better.
Emerson had some interesting things to say about liberals and conservatives. He said, “each has a great half, but an impossible whole.”
The truth is that most of us have both liberal and conservative beliefs. I believe that my home is my castle and that the government has no right unless a crime has been committed to enter my home without permission or a search warrant. It is my business what I do in my personal life. After all it is my life. Does that make me a conservative? But then I believe in justice for all and that we are endowed with certain rights, and that we should protect these rights from government interference. I also believe that government is in a position to do things that no one else can do. Does that make me a statist? These terms and words are an attempt to put us in a box, a box so that we as individual can be labeled. I resent that!!!
The Modern day Conservative opposes change especially when change threatens the existing distribution of wealth. This is why they talk of property and liberty in the same sentence. They are so fearful of change that they would rather see inequality for others as long as they maintain their power and property.
We moderates should be more watchful of our own economic interests.
One can conclude that liberals are not the boogey men that they are portrayed to be. They are Americans just like the rest of us. We have more to fear from those who would support the status quo than we have to fear from positive change and smart government.
If you read the writings of Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy their professed liberal beliefs were not for change with the naïve belief that man was infallible or incorruptible, nor did they believe in any utopia being possible. What they did believe in was that, history does not stand still. They sought to make the lives of others better. Is this not what we should all seek to accomplish? Let us not demonize anyone to the degree where we stop moving forward. As Franklin Roosevelt once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”