American liberalism and the death of freedom

Charles Glenn

Once upon a time, I would have called myself a liberal. For example, had I been born in 18th Century America, when the near-diefication of monarchs was the conservative point of view, I would would have grabbed a musket and gleefully pointed it at the nearest redcoat I could find.

I would have embraced the concept that the Almightyís dispensation to mankind includes the rights to property and self-government. I would have jumped aboard the bandwagon of representative democracy with both feet. If the Free Republic were an intern barmaid instead of a political concept, I would have slapped her behind, grabbed her by the hips and serenaded her whilst she wiggled on my lap.

But the only thing about liberalism that seems to have survived two centuries of American politics is the penchant of liberal male politicians to sexually harass their female interns. Ideas such as stateís rights, an independent judiciary, a small federal government, freedom of religious expression, a self-correcting free market Ė all of these things were once liberal ideas.

Upon examination, a chicken/egg question keeps surfacing Ė namely, "is liberal democracy a good idea because itís democratic or because itís liberal?"

Ask an above-average American college political philosophy student why sheís a liberal, and she might say itís because "liberalism is about change, and change for the better." In her view, the conservatives are stuck in the stodgy, musty, mildewy past. Conservatives are the grumpy, ignorant old grandpa always complaining about how his generationís achievements dwarf the current oneís while ignoring its failures. Liberals are the sexy, intellectual little brother who goes to Brown, can quote Marx and rap lyrics in the same sentence, and always has a starry-eyed freshman co-ed on his arm when he comes home for the holidays.

But is change always good? What about liberal change in Europe and Canada? As columnist Mark Steyn pointed out recently, thousands of young Frenchmen and women left their stodgy old grandmas behind to endure the summer heat wave alone while they cooled themselves with their state-enforced mandatory vacation to the beaches of St. Tropez and the Riviera. Hundreds of those grandmaís died in their absence because of liberal European ideas about air-conditioning. In Canada, talented, qualified medical personnel are defecting in droves because they found they canít honor their hippocratic oath under a hypocritical socialized medical system. For some odd reason, doctors donít want to be told they have to wait six months to have an MRI administered to their patients.

How about liberalism right here in the U.S.? At what point will the insolvency of the Social Security system become obvious to average Americans? My guess is about 2010, when the ratio of worker paying monthly dues to grandmas collecting benefits is 7:1. At what point will Americans tire of having their judicial branch legislate gay marriage against the public will, or having the legislature use the filibuster to circumvent the constitutional process of judicial appointments?

For the past 30 years, the only democratic thing about the Democratic Party is the name. Itís not democratic, itís socialist. At least the Europeans have the decency to call socialism by its name. If advocating a system of government that has continually and often spectacularly failed to perform the function of governing free societies can be called "democratic," then Mary Jo Kopechne, may she rest in peace, got the better end of the deal.