Klavan On The Culture

How the Left Hijacks Liberalism

This is not a liberal.

Many leftists seem to have confused their political opinions with their virtue. They may have disagreements among themselves from time to time, but if there’s one thing they know it’s that all those on the right are wicked. I wish I could share their conviction that everyone who disagrees with me politically is bad, but I know there are many good and decent people who vote Democrat.

The question is: Why? Why do they vote that way?

The modern Democrat Party is leftist. We know that leftism is bad for people. We know leftist welfare policies have destroyed the black family. We see how feminism turns women into weak, quivering, delicate creatures fearful of a word or gaze. We understand how multiculturalism empowers the most intolerant and violent of terrorist thugs. What is it that makes nice folks attach themselves to a political position that does so much damage?

I think it is because they are liberal and the left has hijacked liberalism.

I am a liberal myself. In fact, I became a conservative because I’m a liberal. Liberalism — the belief that individuals should be as free as possible in their thought, speech and action — is what my conservatism seeks to conserve. Nowadays I sometimes hear people describing this position as Classical Liberalism as if there were some new, improved, modern liberalism that had replaced it. Alas, not so!

This is not a liberal either.

What has happened instead is that leftists have hijacked the language and concerns of liberalism and used them to disguise their completely illiberal and oppressive agenda. Liberals believe that all persons are equal before God and the law — so leftists declare that that equality can only be achieved by giving some people special treatment, thus destroying the equality and giving government the power to decide who wins and who loses. Liberals believe in free speech — so leftists declare that free speech hinders free speech, and therefore the First Amendment must be rewritten to give government the power to decide which speech should be free. Liberals believe in free action as long as it does not impinge on your neighbor’s freedom — so leftists contrive to argue that every action from driving your car to following your religious principles somehow impinges on your neighbor and therefore government must be given the power to control virtually everything. With their willing accomplices in our rotten and corrupt corporate media, leftists have managed to make these absurd arguments the face of “liberalism,” and to cast true liberals — i.e. conservatives — in the role of anti-liberal villains.

But it’s not just the corporate media that aid and abet them in this. They are also helped by certain conservatives themselves. Because we are the side that opposes special treatment for anyone, including blacks and women, we are also the side that harbors some of those people who don’t like blacks and look down on women. Because we are the side that believes in free speech, we are the side that harbors and protects those who speak hatefully. Because we are the side that believes in morality, we are the side that harbors small-minded and condemnatory moralists.

Now it’s true: There are radical bad guys on both sides and whereas our radical bad guys spend their days leaving nasty comments on websites, their radical bad guys are currently holding many of the highest political offices in the land.

Still, decent folks who grew up in conservative, mostly Republican, families or neighborhoods where they heard the N-word used regularly or saw gay people disrespected and mistreated or women relegated to low roles may be forgiven for thinking that, in becoming Democrats, they have joined the party of love and tolerance.

But it’s a lie. It’s a hijack. And it is better to tolerate the occasional hater in our midst and fight for true liberal values than to join the left where those values are given lip service only in order to destroy them utterly.