Trying to understand American politics is challenging. Each politician has a preferred label. That means little because they too often do not adhere to the principles of their chosen political faith. When you get right down to it they are either in the column beneath liberty or the one beneath tyranny. To a soul, they would swear that they stand for liberty, but the sad facts say otherwise. What most of them do seem to have in common is an influential supporting special interest.
There are massive amounts of material to consume if you want to try and understand the meaning of all the political labels. Good luck with finding something that is unbiased because writers tend to write favorably of the ideology they support. But not me.
It is mind numbing to sort out whether someone is liberal, progressive, libertarian, conservative, neoconservative… and I probably left out a couple. The talking heads throw these labels at us quicker than an Aroldis Chapman fastball and I think sometimes even they don’t know what they mean. Except the fact that liberals and conservatives are obliged to share mutual hatred, but neither knows for certain where on the left right scale they plop. The center is a mythical place of independents and unicorns which is why we have never seen either.
Technically, you can’t just call someone a liberal. They are either classical liberals or modern liberals. Classic liberalism is our nation’s founding ideology. It is a natural law, individual liberty, rule of law, limited government, and free market ideology. Modern liberalism which is the spawn of the progressive movement focuses largely on social issues and expanding government to meet every need. And then you have the neoconservatives who actually have liberal rather than conservative roots. The neoconservatives are liberals with interventionist foreign policy views to promote democracy. History and current events show how well the neoconservative policies have served us. The progressive movement casts off the thought of natural law and with that there is no idea of God given freedom. To progressives, freedom is about individual fulfillment and providing that is the job of the state, not natural law. Progressives are big on the administrative state where in their view people are better served by experts than elected representatives. Libertarians are big on individual liberty and free will. Even if it means changing laws to accommodate. Conservatives are supposedly the traditionalists bound by the founding ideology and constitution. Hope your drink didn’t fly out of your nose when you read that last sentence. Certainly these approaches to government are more complex with volumes written describing each, but even a rudimentary understanding helps. I never knew that neoconservatives were a liberal offshoot. I now have a better understanding of Lindsey and John.
If your eyes are not yet bleeding, consider that much of the beliefs of the progressive movement are embraced by both liberal and conservative politicians. Just consider the massive bloated administrative agencies that actually run the government like our most beloved IRS. You can still call yourself a conservative and support a massive and intrusive government – which many do.
If you put all of these politicians in a bag and shook it, there is no telling what may fall out. Maybe if they just discarded the labels and got down the business of fixing what’s broken they might even, dare I say it, make America great again.
© 2017 J. D. Pendry