This page was last updated on April 28, 2004.
Liberalism assumes the worst in people; conservatism assumes the best. Liberalism is based on a pessimistic view of individuals; conservatism is based on positive view.
If you paid attention in your pre-American Revolution history classes but knew nothing about contemporary American politics, you would probably think a liberal political philosophy stood for individual liberty, free markets, limited government, and rule of law. In fact, that was the definition of liberalism in Thomas Jefferson’s time. You would expect conservatism to represent the opposite, totalitarianism.
In reality, liberalism is the exact opposite of what you would expect. Liberals believe in extensive government involvement in nearly all phases of life. Big/central government in turn means less-than-free markets and intrusions on individual freedom. Because of these properties, liberalism is based on negativism. Liberalism requires discontent and poor individual self-esteem to survive.
The terms liberalism and progressivism are interchangeable.
There are five groups of people who believe in liberalism.
The first two groups make up what I call liberal elitists. These groups don’t want you to know whom they really are and what they are really trying to do. As covered in the web site dictionary, liberal elitists rely on deceptive language to camouflage their true agenda.
Need more proof? During one of the Democrat primary debates, a questioner asked John Kerry if he considered himself a liberal. Kerry refused to provide a relevant answer.1
It’s my opinion Democrats and their media friends “took out” Howard Dean because Dean embraced being a liberal and was proud of it. Democrats demand their candidates to be liberals, but also demand that their candidates deny the liberal label. Howard Dean refused to deny who he was, so he had to go.
Belief in liberalism doesn’t make a person bad. Some persons, usually rank-and-file liberals as described in points three to five above, accept liberal elitist propaganda and truly believe liberalism results in good. When I refer to liberals, in general I mean the liberal elitists because they tend to set the tone and drive the talking points.
Liberal elitists use liberalism solely to promote their personal political power. They know their positions are a sham supported by neither logic nor history. As a result, liberals don’t want you to know who they really are or what they really support.
Here are some liberal traits.
Liberalism, and its synonym progressivism, is a euphemism for communist, fascist, and socialist beliefs. Persons of this persuasion refer to themselves as liberals or progressives because they don’t want to admit to others, or themselves, they are communists and socialists. I don’t claim these persons advocate the totalitarian brands of communism and socialism, however.
I don’t refer to so-called liberals/progressives as communists and socialists for shock value. I do it because no one should be allowed to hide his beliefs behind deliberately misleading language.
If you think it’s extreme to out liberals as communists, fascists, and socialists, consider the definitions of communism, fascism, and socialism.
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, communism is a “system of political and economic organization in which property is owned by the state or community and all citizens share in the common wealth, more or less according to their need.” Quoting Karl Marx, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Today’s liberal interpretation of Marx’s quote is, “from each according to his ability, success, or wealth, to each according to his needs and wants.”
If you believe communist ideas aren’t alive and well in the United States, consider the following statement by a Pennsylvania state representative, “In the commonwealth and in all other states, we share the wealth.”5 At the federal level, the graduated, punitive income tax, Medicaid, Socialist Security, and welfare are only several examples.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, socialism is “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods” and services. The dictionary also defines socialism as “a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.”
Just two examples of socialism in Pennsylvania are mass transit, like the Beaver County Transit Authority and the Port Authority of Allegheny County, and the state monopoly on the sale of liquor and wine. Examples at the federal level are Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service.
While most liberals won’t admit they are socialists, some do.
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, fascism is “a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” Once again we see many of the hallmarks of liberalism.
If you asked a liberal if he believed in big/central government and unnecessary constraints on individual liberty and the marketplace, he probably would say no. In some cases, the person would be telling the truth, not realizing these are the inevitable results of communism, fascism, and socialism.
On the other hand, most liberals active in politics understand completely the implications of their beliefs. In many cases, these “beliefs” are nothing more than a cynical means to an end, the end being personal power.
Liberals profess an altruistic foundation for their positions. Liberals want us to believe everyone is entitled to the same level of economic success. That is, regardless of your aptitude or level of work relative to the next guy, you and he are entitled to the same lifestyle. This belief is uncomfortably close to that of Karl Marx.
Whether you truly believe in liberalism or simply use it to achieve your goals for power, the strategy for gaining followers is the same. You attack self-image and convince people they have no control over their lives and can’t take care of themselves. When a person has a poor self-image or believes he already has no control, he becomes willing to turn over parts of his life to someone else. For liberals, someone else is government.
Here are some examples.
Liberals don’t believe in the strength of the individual unless the individual is a government official. When you don’t believe in individuals, you eventually come to the conclusion individuals are incapable of choosing their representation. If this sounds far fetched, see footnotes three and four below. If you don’t believe this, remember that individual workers are not allowed to choose their representation in union shops. You belong to the union, or at least pay the union tax (a.k.a. dues), or you don’t have a job. If liberals believe this is correct behavior for labor unions, why would they not believe this for public office? There are precedents for this behavior, the Communist Party anywhere it exists (or existed) and the Ba’ath Party in Iraq.
The effect of this negativism is to build dependence on government. You are not free and cannot be free when you are dependent on the government for your economic survival.
Though liberals don’t trust American individuals, liberals somehow muster confidence in tyrants to do the right thing. For example, liberals pretty much claim everything President Bush says is a lie. However, we were supposed to believe Saddam Hussein.
Liberals must hope for bad things to happen to gain followers.
This position should not be a surprise given that businesses are private sector entities. In the liberal mind, all products and services should be provided by government entities. How often do you hear terms like “profit” and “corporate greed” spoken by a liberal in such a way that you can hear contempt and disgust in the speaker’s voice? In general, the only purpose liberals have for business is to pay taxes and provide jobs so workers can pay taxes.
Naturally, don’t expect liberals openly to express their disgust for business. After all, that would tend to drive businesses away from the politician’s tax jurisdiction. That said, liberals usually can be counted on to bash a business during a labor union action.7
Despite their loathing for business, liberals will claim they show their support by dreaming up central economic planning schemes. Though liberals like to spin the formation of government bureaucracies for economic “development” as pro-business, they are not. Instead of letting businessmen and businesswomen make choices using their own money in a free market, liberals believe politicians can do a better job using taxpayer paychecks. Unfortunately, both history and simple logic show us time after time that central government planning of the economy doesn’t work. If it did, we’d be speaking Chinese or Russian right now instead of American English.
Liberals believe businesses should be social welfare organizations.
Why do liberal elitists loathe success? It’s simple. Even success on a relatively small scale tends to cultivate self-respect and a sense of independence. Liberalism can’t thrive in this environment.
History shows communism and socialism don’t work. All communist countries have been dictatorships and economic/social failures. Even the largest communist country in the world, Red China, recognizes communism doesn’t work. Why else would it allow Hong Kong to remain capitalist and begin to allow limited capitalist behavior in the rest of the country?
Socialist democracies haven’t gone down in flames because they too “tolerate” some capitalism. However, their characteristics include high taxes, low productivity, and relatively poor long-term economic performance. What of those great socialist safety nets? During a 2003 heat wave, there were approximately 15,000 heat-related deaths in France. In the mid-1990s when several hundred Americans died in a heat wave, liberals pointed to this as a failure of capitalism. Predictably, these same liberals were silent about the French deaths. Thirty times more persons died in France’s heat wave in a population only 1/5 that of the United States.
As of early 2004, those socialist darlings France and Germany have unemployment rates roughly twice that of the United States and GDP growth about half that of the United States. Yeah, liberalism/socialism is what we need.
Much more so than conservatives, liberals seem to understand the power of words. As covered in the web site dictionary, liberals work hard to make their beliefs, issues, and programs sound attractive. In many cases, liberals attach meanings to words completely unrelated to, or the opposite of, the mainstream meaning. The objective is to deceive the public about the true liberal agenda.
Liberals don’t want you to know who they are and what they are really up to so they make extensive use of language camouflage.
Related to the power of words is to repeat a lie often enough that it eventually becomes treated as the truth. This was a key tactic of Adolf Hitler’s propaganda machine.
How often have we heard that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided 50% of K-12 public school funding during the 1970s? In fact, commonwealth funding never reached 50% from at least 1968 through 2000. The highest was 44.7% during the 1974-75 school year.8 Where did the 50% figure originate? Someone took the “instructional costs” component that did hit 50% in the 1972-73 school year and reported it in a way to make it sound like the state provided 50% of total K-12 funding throughout the 1970s. This lie has been repeated so often for so long, most persons accept it as the truth.
Another example is putting words in another person’s mouth and then attacking the person for those words. Critics of President Bush constantly claim Bush lied when he said the United States was under imminent threat of attack by Iraq. In fact, neither President Bush nor anyone in his administration made this claim. In his 2003 State of the Union speech, President Bush said the following.
“Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.”9
When pressed for proof, Bush critics are unable to provide a single example of President Bush or anyone in the administration making a pre-war claim that Iraq was an imminent threat. When pressed further, the critics usually say something like “but that’s what he meant.” As noted in the above quote, President Bush explicitly said Iraq was not yet an imminent threat.
Related to repeating a lie is ignoring fact. That is, if you ignore the facts, they either don’t exist or they are wrong. As an example, many opponents to the Iraqi war claim there were no ties between Iraq and terrorism. There is plenty of indisputable proof of Iraqi involvement with terrorism, however.
Does this mean Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks? No, and the Bush administration has always said there was no evidence implicating Iraq. That said, claiming there was no link between Iraq and terrorism ignores all undisputed evidence to the contrary.
Despite the best intentions, almost any action can have unintended consequences. Take the liberal pets “employer-paid”10 health insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare as examples. With so many persons insensitive to the price of healthcare because they don’t knowingly pay for it, these programs drove up the price of healthcare for everyone else.
Recently, the folks running Medicare decided doctors providing chemotherapy for cancer patients were charging too much. As a result, Medicare reduced the reimbursement rate for the chemotherapy drugs in an attempt to contain costs. The reimbursement cut didn’t affect how much it cost doctors to buy and administer the drugs so some doctors may lose money on this procedure. As a result, there will be fewer doctors providing chemotherapy and patients will receive less convenient service. That’s just what a cancer patient needs. This is just a snapshot of what would happen with a “single-payer” healthcare system for everyone. It is the norm in countries that already have socialized healthcare.
I was kind entitling this section “unintended consequences.” The truth is, the inevitable outcome would have been obvious to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of economics and human behavior.
Liberals like to say they are people with bold, new ideas. Unfortunately, these ideas take money and power from the individual and give them to the government. There’s nothing new in these ideas. The American Revolution fought these ideas.
The only things new are the ways in which liberals attempt to justify and hide the power grab. Liberals “justify” the grab by saying it’s “for the children,” “for the seniors,” or any other victim group that may generate sympathy. Liberals attempt to hide the wealth transfer via so-called business taxes, tax “refunds” for taxes never paid, and by legalizing gambling in order to levy confiscatory taxes on revenue from casinos, racing, slots, et cetera.
Liberals believe the United States should take no action, even to defend itself, without a “permission slip” from the United Nations. The following Howard Dean quote is typical of American liberals, “had the United Nations given us permission and asked us to be a part of a multilateral force, I would not have hesitated to go into Iraq, but that was not the case.” This is the same United Nations that:
Except that the differences between conservatism and liberalism are black and white, liberals see everything in gray. There is no clear right and wrong, or good and evil.
If you can see issues in black and white, liberals believe you have a simplistic, unsophisticated view.
Liberalism is based on a divide-and-conquer philosophy. Liberals tend to believe all members of a victim group have the same beliefs. For example, all blacks vote alike, all whites vote alike, all seniors vote alike, et cetera. After defining a victim group, liberals promote an “us vs. them” strategy.
Perhaps the largest victim group is the non-rich. Based on liberal rhetoric, the rich never “pay their fair share” despite irrefutable data showing the rich pay far more than their fair share. This is how liberals incite “class warfare” between the rich and non-rich.
I find it humorous when liberals accuse Republicans of being divisive when divisiveness is a core liberalism strategy.
A little disclosure is called for before I begin. I attended eight years of Catholic grade school, attended four years of CCD classes during high school, was an altar boy for nearly 10 years, and belong to a family with solid religious beliefs. Most of my Protestant friends also attended church and Sunday School every week. Though I am not personally religious, I would be less than honest to claim the environment in which I was raised did not positively affect my value system.
Liberal elites have a reputation for not being particularly religious. Is the reputation supported by logic and facts or is this merely an unfair stereotype? After all, don’t we routinely see prominent liberals posing for photo opportunities outside churches?
Based on logic, it’s easy to see why liberals would be hostile to religion. A tenet of liberalism is to make government supreme in the life of an individual. Religions tend to foster belief in a Supreme Being. If a person believes in a non-governmental Supreme Being, he won’t tend to view government as central to his existence. Even worse for liberalism, religions like Catholicism teach self-determination. That is, though God is supreme and all knowing, you control your own life. This is manifest in sayings like, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” and “God helps those who help themselves.” Therefore, between fostering self-reliance and providing an alternative to the government “god,” mainstream religions tend to rot the foundation of liberalism.
Having dealt with logic, let’s look at facts. During the Cold War we saw religious persecution in the Soviet bloc because the communists/socialists couldn’t afford to have competing authority figures or value systems.
In Europe, where socialism is widespread, “faith” in government is taking the place of traditional religions. In some parts of Europe, only 10% of the population regularly attends church.
Given the convergence of facts, logic, and perception, it’s fair to conclude religious belief threatens liberalism.
3. A Beaver County and/or Maryland and/or eastern Pennsylvania resident [Nikola (Nick) Drobac] with liberal beliefs used college graduation rates in an effort to show only less educated people voted for George W. Bush in 2000. This person’s web site displays a USA Today (January 11, 2001; page 1a) map showing the six states with the lowest college graduation rates overwritten with “All voted for Bush.” Mr. Drobac named the image file “dumbest-states.jpg.” Personally, I believe the effort shows these folks had above average common sense. Also, I don’t believe a college degree necessarily means you are smarter or a better judge of character than a person without a college degree. Of my parents and grandparents, only one had a college degree yet I considered all of them intelligent and excellent judges of character. Using a longtime liberal strategy, Mr. Drobac applies a negative stereotype to keep a group down. I guess we know how Mr. Drobac really feels about most of those hard working souls who toiled in the Beaver County steel mills, on its railroads, et cetera. They were dumb. I wonder what Nikola Drobac thinks of his brother, Stevan Drobac, Jr., as a political candidate. You see, Stevan Drobac does not have a bachelor degree.
6. This was the wording as of mid-summer 2003. The exact wording of this sentiment changes somewhat as Mr. Drobac updates his web site.
7. Rallying cry - Medical Center workers consider unionization effort; Jonathan Evans; Beaver County Times; September 17, 2002.
8. Dispelling the Myth of Pennsylvania’s Under-Funded Public Schools; Grant R. Gulibon & Matthew J. Brouillette; The Commonwealth Foundation; July 2002.
10. There is no such thing as employer-paid health insurance. This is liberalspeak. Employers determine what a job is worth and allocate that much to the person’s fully loaded compensation. If the company pays for health insurance on the employee’s behalf, the employee simply gets less take-home pay. Ultimately, employees always pay for their own health insurance whether they know it or not. The same is true for the “employer contributions” to Medicare, Socialist Security, unemployment insurance, et cetera. Personally, I’d rather have the money in my paycheck so I can decide for myself what benefits I want.
© 2004 Robert W. Cox, all rights reserved.