I recently had a back-and-forth on Facebook with an former professor from my undergraduate days. We don’t agree, as it turns out, on certain matters of public policy. Which is fine. But it seems important to make sure my thoughts on what liberalism means don’t lurk in the comments thread of a walled garden. The thread got somewhat intense.
Also: you don’t get to redefine liberalism as “trust the government to pretty much run everything.”* Liberalism is the idea that everyone deserves a fair shake in the economy, and that everyone deserves access to the tools and methods of self-governance. I’ve been pretty left-wing since the late Reagan era, and I think local level solutions to local-level problems are best, but I’m not blind to the fact that local-level problems repeated across the nation are, in fact, not local-level problems but systemic matters which have to be resolved, at least partially, at the systems level. Which indeed means when markets and private-do-gooder organizations fail or simply can’t keep up, we have uncovered a proper role for government, but which is a far cry from “pretty much everything.”I also think that conservatism is about preserving the best of what we have inherited from the past, socially and politically, while recognizing that changes happen in technological and economic characteristics of society, and adapting to them to allow the full flourishing of the individual within society.
So. I’m pretty lefty-wingy.
* The person I was responding to in a downthread comment withdrew the “trust government to pretty much run everything” characterization of liberals. It was a heat of the moment comment. This is fair, and I wouldn’t expect anyone to fully stand behind 100% of their “deep into the Comments thread” comments on FB.
I chose to leave it because there are plenty of people who think this, or worse, of liberalism. It seemed like a pretty low-intensity springboard to launch from.