Sunday, December 05, 2004

A realignment for the new century

I rarely use the word "liberal" as a noun. Not just because I dislike labelling people, but because I don't necessarily consider "liberal" to be an insult. The closest I come is "lefty" or "leftist," and then I'm usually referring to a person's socialist leanings.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 caused a political-ideology earthquake, the aftershocks of which are still being felt. During this election year, we saw quite a few traditional liberals backing the President (recall Ron Silver's speech during the RNC convention), and also read this post by Bigwig at Silflay Hraka about the practical definition of a "true liberal."
I haven't seen any studies to support this--I wasn't able to locate any online that speak to the question one way or another--but I would be willing to bet that Bush's electoral victory wasn't due to increased turnout on the part of evangelicals or because of anti-gay voters. The 2004 victory instead came about because of people like me--former Gore 2000 voters who couldn't bring themselves to vote for the newly soft-on-totalitarianism Democrats.*

The proper liberal critique for the war on Iraq isn't that we shouldn't be there--or even that we should never have gone. The proper liberal critique should be that we should have invaded Iraq sooner, and that we aren't doing enough there now. True liberals would have spent their time prior to the invasion recruiting Peace Corps-like volunteers for post-war Iraq rather than human shields for a brutal dictatorship. True liberals now would be demanding that the US do everything in its power--including militarily--to support the extension of basic human rights to countries other than Iraq and Afghanistan rather than wallowing in their supposed victimhood; countries like Myanmar, the Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, China and, yes, North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

Read the whole thing.

I think we're in the midst of a sort of political realignment in this country. The great divide--the red-state/blue-state divide--no longer seems like a division between liberals and conservatives. Rather, I'm beginning to believe that the front lines of this ideological battle are forming along a divide between those who strongly support the concepts of liberty and freedom and lack of government intrusion, and socialists who believe that the government should be involved in every little detail of day-to-day living. Though this may hew closely to the red-state/blue-state divide, I don't think it matches exactly. There are certainly conservatives who believe in bigger government. (The Bush administration hasn't been the best about keeping the government small.) And there are certainly liberals who believe strongly in liberty and less government involvement.

While this realignment became most obvious on the issue of the war on terrorism, it's also very obvious on another domestic issue: education. Consider the rise of homeschooling over the last couple of decades. Home educators are (obviously) big advocates of less government intrusion, and they run gamut from liberal to conservative. But both liberal and conservative homeschoolers will unite rather fiercely on the issue of freedom in education.

Bigwig continues:
If you, like Michael Moore,, and Howard Dean, oppose America's current foreign policy because it's too much instead of not enough, stop referring to yourself as a liberal. You're not a liberal, you're an isolationist.

Do the rest of us liberals a favor and quit muddying the waters. Get over on Pat Buchanan's side, where you belong.

In the coming years, I predict we'll see this realignment more strongly. This realignment may be present beyond the borders of our nation, as well. As Old Europe is becoming more and more socialist, our traditional allies aren't exactly what they used to be. Meanwhile, fledgling democracies are beginning to appear in the Middle East, and one day in the near future we may find that countries in Middle East may now be our strongest allies.

We can't rely on the same old labels to provide a snapshot of our differences, because in this new century the things which unify us may be much stronger; things like liberty and freedom and support for democracy.


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