The Modern Left Abandons Classical Liberalism

Again, the better angels supply the answer. Even if we are to assume that you, as a specific individual, are a tower of integrity and would never abuse the system, observations of basic human nature prove that there are far too many exceptions to that rule. With Halloween nearly upon us, a good analogy may be found in the candy bowl on the porch with a sign reading, “Please take one.” True, you might have five, ten, or fifteen children stop by and do just that, but eventually you’ll be hit by the kid who will empty the bowl and run cackling off to their hideout. Adults are no different. When your safety net turns into an unquestioned lifestyle choice, there will be those who choose to hang indefinitely in the net.

The best example of this argument can be found in the debate currently taking place over health care reform.  As with other forms of emergency support, few fair observers would argue that there are people in America who simply cannot afford basic health insurance and it is proper that the government address this. Arguing against any sort of reform for no reason other than scoring quick political points against the president will brand you a villain with the majority of voters.

But when classic liberalism gives way to modern, extreme liberalism, they seek to use this problem as a launching point to a single-payer, government-controlled monopoly of the entire health care system. The destruction and government sublimation of a vital successful aspect of both our economy and our society is compassionate liberalism taken to a radical extreme. It only serves, as Rick Moran puts it, to perpetrate “an insidious attempt by government to control the personal lives of citizens -- as fundamentally against conservative principles and our concept of individual liberty as anything that has ever been proposed by an American Congress.”

The same goes for the protection of minorities of all sorts from attacks and prejudice. Both classic liberalism and reasoned conservatism seek an equal playing field for all the contestants in this capitalist paradise. The sins of the past serve as road markers to ensure we don’t repeat them in the future. But when modern liberals insist on so-called hate crime legislation, they turn a blind eye to the fact that justice is now, once again, being dispensed in unequal measure. Just because the inequality is flowing in a new direction is no excuse for the inequity.

The subject of war may be the most bloody and sensitized of all. Classic liberals are, without question, correct when they point out that being in a state of peace is preferable to being at war. What is missing from much of modern liberalism, though, is the vital caveat that peace, while always desirable, must be available at a price we can afford. Human nature and the affairs of states being what they are, that price will periodically rise above what our market will bear, and war stands as the only alternative.

This is not to say that war is ever preferable or that all reasonable avenues of diplomacy must not be explored and exhausted before reaching that decision. This aspect of American government is perhaps the best and most important area where angels of both the conservative and liberal leanings must ride on the shoulders of our leaders. But distaste for war must never rob us of the options which frequently keep bad actors from the worst behavior; nor can we allow it to lessen the respect and debt we feel toward our military.

In the end, Rick is probably correct in saying that some forces inside the modern, movement conservative ranks are running the machine straight off the rails. But in the same way, today’s disciples of liberal doctrine have taken what was once the guiding hand of socially responsible conscience and clenched it into a fist banging out something closer to irresponsible socialist tendencies. Extremism comes in all flavors, and enough of it will make any meal unpalatable.