Dating Liberalism

By Graham Glover

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Why is it that I find her so attractive? Is it the rebellious side of me or is there something about her that is inherently good? For the life of me I can’t figure out why she is so darn appealing! I try to stay away, but she keeps drawing me back in, time and time again. My gut tells me to stay away. My head tells me it’s a mistake of epic proportions. And yet I continue to find the idea of dating liberalism intriguing. I know it’s a mistake. I know she’ll betray me. The moment I get serious with her, she’ll cheat on me. Liberalism always cheats. It’s in her nature. Nothing is forever with liberalism. So why is it that I can’t get her out of my mind?

And herein lies my problem with liberalism. She’s the best looking thing around. On the surface, she’s lights out. She’s a grand-slam home run. She is definitely a looker.

But once you get past what looks good, once you really see who she is deep inside, you are bound to be disappointed with liberalism. Ultimately, liberalism has no core. She offers nothing eternal. She holds to no timeless truth. What is good, moral, and just to liberalism is ever evolving. She has some great ideas (probably the best) and is clearly noble in her intent (I believe she has a sincere heart). But liberalism lacks responsibility – on multiple fronts. And this is a big problem if our relationship is ever to go beyond flirting.

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Like her adversary, conservatism, I’m not sure liberalism knows what she stands for anymore. She seems to stand for everything – which means she stands for nothing. At the end of the day though, I’ve got three big problems with liberalism, problems so big I’m not sure this relationship will ever amount to anything.

First and foremost among liberalism’s problems is her embrace of cultural relativism. This embrace means you never know what she truly believes (assuming she believes something). I mean, how can you know what someone believes when that belief is constantly evolving? Liberalism will tell you what they think is moral, but when you ask them why, and what informs their understanding of the good, the answer you get today will likely be different than what you get next year. Sometimes this isn’t a big deal. Not everything in politics stays the same (a point conservatives would be wise to remember). But the core of what defines you – the essence of your belief system – has to be something. Anything. Cultural relativism, however, says truth can never be known. What’s good for today’s generation may not be good for the next. This sort of libertinism may be fine for some, but it is hardly the sort of thing that makes for a moral society or a state that has any desire to last.

Second, liberalism puts way too much blame (even if it’s all for show) on the rich. I’m a firm believer in the progressive tax code. Talks of a flat tax or a national sales tax in lieu of income taxes are nothing but a guise to offer sanctuary for the wealthiest of the wealthy. Liberalism’s insistence that they rich pay proportionally more are fair, equitable, and an absolute necessity to maintain a healthy democratic republic. But liberalism, at least in its public rhetoric, vilifies the wealthy way too much. It’s almost as if liberalism believes all that ills our society is the result of the super-rich. This sort of blame game is the same type of discrimination liberalism accuses conservatism on with respect to race, gender, and sexual orientation. Private industry, despite its sometimes ill-gotten gains, is the engine that has made America the wealthiest nation in the world. Those who own these industries, as well as those who profit from them, are the ones who give the middle and lower income classes the means to earn a living and keep the very government which liberalism adores the revenue operational.

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Last, but certainly not least, liberalism is completely naïve to the evils that threaten our nation and the world. Look, America is not without reproach. We have problems. Lots of them. Some of our citizens are rotten. Some of our actions as a nation and a people are reprehensible. But despite our wrongs, there is an evil present in today’s world that detests everything that liberalism upholds. This evil loathes the idea and the existence of America. This evil hates liberty. It has no desire for people to be free. If you don’t abide by its law you are a heretic who should be executed. Any rational political actor knows that we will be at war with this evil for generations. To think we can negotiate with this evil is the epitome of naiveté. To suggest we ought not fight this evil is ignorance in every sense of the word. Liberalism, though, shies from any talk of combatting this evil with the full force of American justice. Liberalism, because it sees people as inherently good, cannot comprehend that this evil exists and is spreading. People are sinners who need the very laws that God has ordained its government to enforce. Liberalism too often forgets this.

She sure does look good – liberalism. There’s a lot that appears to be great about her. I wouldn’t mind going out for a night on the town with her. But this girl has a lot of growing up to do if I’m ever going to seriously consider dating her, because once you get past her good looks I’m scared about what I see. It’s not a pretty sight. I know it and so do you.

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23 thoughts on “Dating Liberalism

  1. That was a really good try, Graham. Two questions: Why is a progressive tax system more fair? As it is, if everyone pays a fixed percentage of either income or purchase price, the rich pay far more anyway because there is no bargaining or deducting by political influence, and of course their income is higher so they pay more. And the poor must stay engaged in the concern for too much or too little taxation, even at their modest level, instead of currying political favoritism where they can just elect somebody who will not tax THEM. Everybody pays according to their means. I can’t see why that is not more fair.

    Secondly, what has this nation done collectively that was so wrong? Who have we actually hurt that wasn’t, in some way, trying to hurt us? I am not including the slavery issue, which is undeniable as a massive fault that had to be dealt with in American blood. In every imaginable way, in my mind at least, we have been generous beyond comprehension (even to our enemies), first in line to help anyone in need, and we have never attacked anyone to subjugate them to our rule. Even our enemies of the past are always free in the end.

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  2. Graham, I’m afraid that I will have to disagree with you on the tax issue. Even in the Theocracy of Ancient Israel all the people,rich or poor,paid the same percentage (although it was more complicated than that). Many who are rich have used that wealth to better the welfare of their fellow citizens (Henry Ford for example). As a man now approaching his mid sixties, a retired professional soldier, and old cold Warrior,I have had the chance to see both sides of this political debate. From my experience, liberalism always seems to lead to less freedom. Some who proclaim themselves conservative are merely another form of statist like liberals. Those who stick to true conservative principles, have helped to keep this nation relatively free,at least in comparison to much of the rest of the world. That being said,I do agree with you that Western civilization’s enemy is relentless and must be combatted ruthlessly, as long as it takes up arms against us.

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  3. You have misrepresented liberalism by twisting the facts. In short, its a crock. Intelligent, reality-based liberals do recognize the evils that exists in the world and they are generally better informed and educated that their political opponents.

    To get some historical perspective, read the 1956 Republican party platform to see what a bitter, twisted piece of ordure present-day conservatism has become.

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    1. Tom, my beef is with the 2015 version of Liberalism. Obviously, this does not include all liberals. There are some solid, substantive, principled, liberals out there. But Liberalism has become/is becoming a monolithic force on the Left that I think is pushing out some pragmatic realists.

      I think my article from last week highlights my frustrations with conservatism, which should address the second paragraph of your response.

      Thanks for chiming in!

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      1. I hadn’t seen last week’s article until now. Like you, I should be a natural conservative; white, Lutheran (ELCA), gun owner, married with two children. But it’s a no go. The constant railing against “government” and resentment of welfare and Medicare recipients makes no sense to me. I truly believe government is a term that covers what we need to do together as a society, and that it is absolutely necessary for civilization.
        I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a liberal libertarian. I support progressive taxation, strong unions, police reform and policies that support a strong middle class. However, our multiplicity of laws and statues are inconsistent with true liberty. We don’t need government intruding in every aspect of personal behavior – such as drug use. Here in California, 40% of adults have a criminal record mostly due to some variation of substance abuse, which is ridiculous. In addition to marijuana, I’d even decriminalize DUIs that don’t result in harm to others or large financial damages.

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      1. So Don, you like having lots of laws covering every possible human activity, and oppose government policies that would strengthen the middle class? Sounds like fascist statism.
        Before you cast ad hominem aspersions, please look up the classic definitions of liberalism and libertarianism. The terms as used in contemporary discourse have little relation to their meaning.

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      2. Classic definitions are irrelevant these days. You should use words the way they can be properly communicated and understood in common parlance.

        As for wanting lots of laws, conservatism wants less of that, not more. This is even more true for libertarians. The middle class is strengthened primarily by the government minding its own business unless they are protecting rights (not inventing them) and keeping order. The middle class gets strengthened when everyone is strengthened by ordinary people doing what they do every day.

        My view of liberalism lately is that those who adhere to it think they know everything and ordinary people must be taken care of for their own good – in other words, fascist statism (isn’t that the elitism that you are pushing?).

        Also, speaking the truth is not ad hominem attack (sorry, aspersions).

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      3. I’ve often wondered about the term “elitism”. The “elite” are generally the people in power or the ones controlling the dialog – Koch Bros., Wall St., Chicago school libertarians, Tea Partiers, Islamophobes, Haliburton. If you prefer, the “elite” may even be considered the liberals in charge of whatever you think they’re in charge of. though, in reality, most “liberals” have been dragged to the center-right by the prevailing dialog, the idiots who think there are socialists anywhere in the US government. that’s so far from fact or truth, it’s laughable. At least I know those people are no “elite”. They don’t even know the meaning of “socialism”.

        I’d have no problem being government by people who know better, are better educated, have higher IQ’s, have vision. I can’t see that anywhere in the Republican slate.

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      4. Elitism, as I understand it, is thinking of yourself as smarter and wiser and should-be-in-charger than everybody else. In other words, and elitist acts like someone who is elite, regardless of the truth.

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  4. I liked it Grahambo, not bad at all. Like others before me, you lost me on the tax issue. But hey, you date liberalism so I expect some flaws in your judgment. Conservatism must be the opposite, looks rough on the outside but beneath the surface you find real warmth, genuine conviction, and timeless values.

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  5. Don, Robert, and JG, I write an article vilifying 2015 Liberalism and you call me out for supporting the progressive tax system?! Can I do no good?! Ha!

    Seriously, I basically say that as enamored as I am with Liberalism, I can never embrace it because of its ethical shortcomings, and still, this isn’t enough?!

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    1. I tried to commend your post (I admit I was kinda lame in the enthusiasm department on that), but you still like liberal stuff. I thought I was supposed to tell you that…

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    2. Graham, progressive taxation is not only proper, it’s a time-honored American ideal that has roots in the founders. Paine and Jefferson. It also has a sound economic foundation – the subjective value of each dollar decreases as income increase – macro 101. A person earning $1000/ wk considers $500 a greater expenditure, a weightier decision, than someone earning $10,000 wk.

      I always refer to “Agrarian Justice”, higher taxes are the rents paid to society for exclusive use of the commons, i.e. the world given equally for the support of all. That, in turn, as I am sure you know, has roots in natural law as embraced by the Church from early times.

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  6. Graham, she may look great, but you can only have her if you pay for her. She currently costs trillions of dollars. No bueno.

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  7. Hey Graham, I’m curious what you find attractive about liberalism. You pointed out many of its faults, but didn’t explain what you find attractive about it.

    Is it just a progressive tax system that you like? I’m not sure that’s necessarily liberal. Maybe more centrist.

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    1. Ken, good question. Part of the problem in answering that is the recognition by many on this blog that liberalism and conservatism aren’t what they once were. So yes, you are probably right: I’m much more of a centrist (whatever that means!)

      Big picture, I think it’s the idea of Liberalism that sounds attractive. That is, enough programs to help everyone: the poor, the sick, the unemployed, the underemployed, the uneducated, the small businessman, the aged, etc. I also appreciate its ideal about the world that sees more good than bad in people (even if it’s misplaced).

      Bottom line though, I firmly believe that the government has a responsibility to assist its citizens throughout their life. On this, I think 2015 liberalism, despite its many flaws, is much more agreeable that 2015 conservatism.

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      1. Conservatism has definitely taken a more negative, angry, defensive tone. I think the feeling is born out of frustration with the status quo and the perception that things are not going in our favor. I share many of those sentiments, so its hard to maintain a positive tone.

        Unfortunately, as many have pointed out, liberalism and conservatism have both kind of “jumped the shark,” as they say in Hollywood. No longer do liberals just want to help the needy, they want to give away money to practically everyone, except for the “super rich,” whom they demonize. Conservatives no longer simply want to stop abuses of the welfare system, they want to destroy nearly every welfare program out there.

        How can a nation function when our choices are “fight everyone all the time,” versus “never fight any war no matter how serious the threat.” or “don’t give any hand outs to anyone,” versus “free food, housing, college, healthcare and retirement for all.”

        It seems we need more people in the middle who are willing to give and take. Its easy to react against our opponents by digging in our heels and taking a hardline position, and I’m certainly prone to that error, but it doesn’t make for sound politics.

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      2. Graham, why do you think that the government has that responsibility? If the citizenry doesn’t need it or want it, it becomes intrusive. If the government is the citizenry, as ours is, shouldn’t the government only do what is desired by that citizenry, at most (and even better, what the law that has been established in the Constitution actually says it should do)? That stuff is not what the Bible or the Constitution says. Where does it come from? I believe you’d find, if you looked it up, that it comes from Marx and his buddies.

        Helping those who need help, is a really good thing to do, and perhaps a useful function for government that acts as the collective will of the citizenry. Still, what if it isn’t in the Constitution, which was designed to inhibit creativity in the government, or the will of the people to the extent that it is forced upon us? I’ve never been a great fan of Geneva’s plan (I mean Calvin’s Geneva) to force charity out of people at gunpoint.

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  8. Don, if it’s not the government’s responsibility, then whose is it? Will the churches take care of the poor? Will charitable organizations tend to the elderly? Will civic clubs educate our populous?

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    1. Why is it the government’s responsibility? I can’t think of any entity with less competence to care for people. Yes, I agree they can, with the consent of the people, look after the helpless. But they took so much more than that without any Constitutional authority. All those entities used to do what you suggested. Now it is nearly impossible for them to do any of it because of regulation that is not the business of government.

      Lutherans used to have orphanages, hospitals, and schools in great numbers. They still do those things overseas, because they have not been strangled by government telling them how or when or how much. In any case, much of that kind of structure is not allowed to the federal government, but only to more local forms. But since they go too far, much is done poorly; and local people cannot control those obvious functions anymore.

      I suppose I would have to say that people can do some these things lawfully, and perhaps should do so, but especially the federal systems should not – and indeed cannot by the Constitution – but they try anyway to the consternation of many. And badly.

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