I Am A Liberal* (EP. 367)
*Classical liberal, that is. Classical liberals were committed to individualism, liberty, and equal rights. They believed these goals required a free economy with minimal government interference. The first liberals won the initial levels of, well, liberalism, against the illiberal monarchy of King John in 1215 with the signing of the Magna Carta.
With that signing, the world took its first steps away from the illiberal monarchies and other dictatorships that covered the world toward the liberal democracies that appear in the world today.
Liberal meant free, as in free from autocratic rule, replacing that with a democracy where the people choose their leaders (not rulers). Liberal did not mean free as in most things ought to be free to the people who vote for certain politicians. Has the word liberal been hijacked to mean, “Free for you if you vote for me?”
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
Words such as liberal, liberty, libertarian and libertine all trace their history to the Latin liber, which means “free”. One of the first recorded instances of the word liberal occurs in 1375, when it was used to describe the liberal arts in the context of an education desirable for a free-born man.
Let’s hear from Barton Swain writing in the Wall Street Journal, “Liberalism is in trouble. I don’t mean the narrow “liberalism” of the post-1960s Democratic Party, although that’s in trouble, too. I mean liberalism in the wider, classical sense—a view of government and society embracing free markets, representative democracy, individual freedom, strict limits on state power, and religious neutrality.”
That’s exactly what liberal meant, and still means to me.
- Free markets instead of business and commerce controlled by the monarch or the dictator.
- Representative Democracy. Not rule by unmotivated, disinterested people who are cajoled into voting. And certainly not rule by career politicians who are in their professions primarily to acquire, increase and keep power.
- Individual freedom. That’s the default condition. Any abridgement of individual freedom must be proven to be necessary not simply assumed while freedoms are sacrificed for the “greater good.”
- Strict limit on state power. Similar to the above, our Constitution enumerates the powers granted to the government; any assumed powers beyond those are by definition unconstitutional.
- Religious neutrality. That includes not allowing, and certainly not encouraging, state-tainted, quasi religions like CRT, climate change, COVID beliefs, government largesse and paternalism, etc. The primary tactic in every case is to present opinions masquerading as fact, then rewarding the believers, and insulting, castigating and cancelling the non-believers. I am not saying that all of the above have no foundation in at least some truth, any more than I am saying that none of the religions of the world have any foundation in truth. I am saying that much of the time truth is used in the presentations of these beliefs only when convenient. Then emotion, presentation skills and appeals to those in certain groups, ethnicities and those with biases and prejudices take over. Now that I have ruffled some feathers, let’s go on.
From time-to-time, I am asked to identify myself as a conservative or a liberal. More often, I am labeled as one or the other after someone hears or reads only one opinion of mine. For example, if they listen to an episode about fiscal responsibility, they assume that I am a conservative. Conversely, if they listen to an episode where I am promoting vaccines, they assume that I am a liberal. And once someone labels me, they expect that I will follow the religious-like complete dogma they associate with that label. And many people act that way themselves; once they adopt a label, they adopt all the beliefs associated with that label without much thought, and with great and seemingly endless enthusiasm and conviction. And vocal intolerance for those who had adopted different labels.
I often respond to requests to label myself by telling people where I stand on issues, then ask them what label they would apply–if any.
Education Goal: Having the best pre-K thru 12 education with the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Note, this does not presuppose one and only one way to get there. None of these goals do. A good starting approach here might be to allow free access to equally funded traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools via vouchers. Allow parents to make the right decision for their children, and allow competition to deliver the best product for the kids, parents and society.
Poverty Goal: Getting people out of poverty and into comfort in a way that they can eventually stay there on their own. And providing lifetime support for those who can’t provide for themselves.
Race Goal: Achieving racial harmony and overall success. Not by using race to support any particular ideology, and not by being afraid of being politically incorrect. We can get there–together–only by recognizing the strengths, and, yes, and weaknesses, of each ethnicity. It will take great courage in today’s political climate to speak this necessary truth.
Gender harmony and overall success goal: Pause for the truth. Men and women are not the same. And races are different. And herein lies enormous power. We can lean on and benefit greatly from the various strengths of the races and genders, using those positives to shore up the accompanying weaknesses. Learn from each other. Depend on each other’s strengths. In this way, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. 1 + 1 + 1 = 15–or more. But only in this way. If we defy part of the fundamental genius of God and nature and insist that all ethnicities and both genders are the same, the whole–all of us–can never be more than, well, a collection of people with much the same to offer. 1 + 1 + 1 = 3–at best.
Abortion/Pro Life/Pro Choice Goal: Given that all of us are truly pro life and pro choice in the original and powerful definitions of life and choice, how then do we have an honest debate about this critical issue? If we can decide where we stand on the two following questions, I think we’ll have it:
- When does life begin?
- When is it appropriate for the state to sanction the taking of a life?
COVID: Get vaccinated, and wear a mask to protect others when appropriate.
Tax and money Goal: Setting tax and other economic policies to maximize the national economy, lower the burden on individuals–and do it in a way that allows the government to do its defined jobs efficiently, jobs that government does uniquely well. It is not a question of generally preferring higher or lower taxes. The question is clearer than that: 1. How much money is required to support the government in the tasks it does best and (what is it that government does uniquely well)? 2. What is the lowest tax structure that delivers the required funds while being fair to those being taxed?
What are some other examples of areas where we have/can have common goals? Tell me, tell others. We are interested.
None of these questions have easy answers; seeking common goals is another example of the journey being more important than the destination. Searching for common goals directs the conversation away from cliches, foregone conclusions and “proof by insult” or “accusation by identity”, toward manageable, productive conversations. Conversations that can lead to, well, bringing us together and realizing the promise of Revolution 2.0™.
In the past, I have been politically homeless. Today, working together–working with you–I know we will build a political home together, a home built on the foundation of classical liberalism as defined here, including working toward creating successes with a list of common goals. Not middle-of-the-road, compromise thinking. Passionate thinking and action, finding and succeeding with the list of common goals. And what are the goals you would like to see adopted as our common goals?
We all have the personal responsibility to look for and find common goals, ignoring labels and other excuses to create disunity at all points along the way. Speaking of personal responsibility, this principle does not stand alone; the two main and interdependent principles at Revolution 2.0 are:
1. Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything. You can start by subscribing to these episodes, and encouraging others to subscribe with you.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:1.
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
This is Will Luden. We’ll talk again in a few days.