Liberal vs. Liberalism
Critics of liberalism are called "liberals."
The inconsistent use of the terms “liberal” and “liberalism” in the popular press has led to a lot of confusion. Adding to the muddle, the critics of liberalism have over time become known as “liberals.” Clarification is needed to clear up the mess so we are not deceived.
Liberalism: The principles of liberalism form the basis of our liberal democracy as inscribed in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. At its heart, liberalism is a model of government that emphasizes the rights of the individual. Those rights include the right to life, liberty and private property. Other fundamental rights include freedoms of speech, press, religion, conscience and association as well as protection against the unwarranted intrusion of the government in a person’s private life. Liberalism prioritizes limited government, free enterprise and the rule of law to ensure freedom from tyranny in all its forms including anarchy and government authoritarianism. In particular, government is viewed as a necessary evil that needs to be decentralized and restricted.
An individual who supports the principles of liberalism is a classically liberal person. Classic liberals include moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans and other centrists. Libertarians are also included.
Liberal: The confusion commenced when another group appropriated the liberal label. In the last century, critics of liberalism became known as “welfare-state liberals”—or just plain “liberals” for short. Initially, these critics supported big government and the welfare state in conjunction with individual rights. But over time many so-called “liberals”—i.e., critics of liberalism—split off to become the progressive branch of the Democratic Party.
Today’s progressives are anti-liberal and seek to destroy classically liberal values. In their attempts to dismantle free enterprise, the rule of law and individual rights, they often employ ideologies such as critical theory and identity politics. This progressivism is the antithesis of liberalism. Not only is it not liberal, but it is illiberal.
Takeaway: The principles of liberalism are inscribed in the U.S. Constitution. Ironically, over time, the critics of liberalism have become known as “liberals.”
A Shift to the Left
Communists in America are increasingly finding success integrating their policies with those of mainstream leftists. Here, Paul Kengor, PhD, a Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation academic councilmember, provides his analysis of a typical Communist Party USA statement.
Note the remarkable degree of overlap between the language and goals of the Communist Party USA and the language and goals of “mainstream” politicians in the Democratic Party. On the economy, on gender issues, on the environment, the stated goals of the current leadership of the Democratic Party are frighteningly close to the statements coming from the Communist Party USA, which was the official representative of the Soviet Union until its late demise. No wonder the far Left can work in harmony with the current leadership of the Democratic Party and the chief Democrat who occupies or seeks the White House. There was a time when the American Communist Party despised and demonized even liberal Democrats like Woodrow Wilson and FDR, not to mention more conservative Democratic Party standard-bearers such as Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. That is no longer the case. Conservative Democrats seem to be an extinct species, and todays “liberal” or “progressive” Democrats are far to the Left of Democrats of the past—so far Left that they are kindred spirits to the communists in the CPUSA and allies in their “onward!” march to “transform” America.
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