“We the People, er, unless you belong to any of these groups…”
So I have started a blog with a friend of mine, Kyle Brady, a self proclaimed liberal thinker. The point is to discuss rationally, but bluntly, some of those seemingly irreconcilable differences between political ideologies. If you have ever wondered how a reasonable, intelligent person can hold deep opinions that are completely contrary to yours, this will be an interesting conversation to watch. The following is an excerpt from my first post– a response to Kyle’s introductory explanation of what, precisely, liberalism is.
My goal from the outset, more than anything, is not merely to attempt to shoot down the points of my friend in this endeavor, but to seek his response regarding some of the obvious, apparent contradictions in the general liberal worldview (at least from the perspective of a non-liberal). For the sake of clarity, I will address the following to Kyle directly, as if this was an interview.
With that in mind, Kyle, I’ll quote from the previous post in which you offered a detailed definition of liberalism:
“Liberalism… It’s about letting people live their lives how they like, in an environment that lets them do so. It’s about not just equality, but equitable behavior across the board. It’s about moving forward, towards a goal where people are happier, healthier, and unconstrained. It’s about the people themselves, not corporations, the rich, the favored, religion, or organizations.”
This comes from the first paragraph of your definition, and it immediately begs some interesting questions. Primarily, I suspect that I could change the first word of that definition to “conservatism”, put it into the hands of any conservative thinker, and find them agreeing whole-heartedly that it represents the general conservative worldview. To be specific:
1) “It’s about letting people live their lives how they like, in an environment that lets them do so…”
Actually, personal freedom, and the responsibility that comes with it, is a foundational principle of the right. In fact, pressing the federal government not to restrict its citizens’ freedoms– to allow them to operate their businesses unimpeded by over-regulation and over-taxation, to grant them the seemingly obvious freedoms to eat what they wish, smoke cigarettes if they choose, and keep a bit more of what they earn– is one of the core messages of the much-maligned tea party movement.
2) “It’s about not just equality, but equitable behavior across the board…”
Conservatives believe very strongly in the concept of equal opportunity for all, regardless of their background. Thinkers on the right proudly point to the many individuals who have succeeded in this country against seemingly impossible odds. This kind of equality, equality of potential and opportunity, is one of the things that conservatives mean when they talk about American Exceptionalism– not that Americans are better than other nationalities, but that the American system allows for anyone to achieve whatever they desire if they simply make the effort. Equitable behavior across the board, they would argue, means reducing the morass of regulations and taxation that constrict businesses, thus widening the stairs to improvement as much as possible.
3) “It’s about the people themselves, not corporations, the rich, the favored, religion, or organizations.”
Now here, I admit, is the one statement that would make the average conservative scratch his/her head, because it seems to pose a sort of logical oxymoron. For a liberal to best understand how this statement strikes a conservative, try reversing its polarity: “It’s about the people themselves, not families, the poor, the disenfranchised, social heritage, or organizations.” Shocking-sounding, yes? In essence, the statement seems to suggest that certain groups (in this instance, corporations, the rich, the favored, and the religious) are not things comprised of people.
(…to continue this article and offer your much requested response, please click here. )