Posted by: Jeff | April 16, 2010

Conservatives on Modern Liberalism

As I write this, there’s a Tea Party even in Boston, complete with Sarah Palin. I’m sure there are plenty of signs about socialism, and perhaps even communism, around. Liberals have, of course, laughed at these sort of accusations — and with good reason. Do you want to see a good example? I have a great one, in a back-and-forth between two liberals in good standing, Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias. Both are certainly liberals; for example, on health care reform, both preferred a bill with a public option, but had no difficultly strongly supporting the eventual, compromised, bill that became law. I’d guess that they would both self-identify right around where the modal House Democrat is, ideologically.

[L]iberals such as Yglesias and Drum (and Obama and Pelosi) are not socialists, and are not old-style big-government liberals. Liberals, dating back to the late 1979s, have come to accept that markets are incredibly powerful and can be harnessed to do great things. Where liberals differ from, say, libertarians is that liberals tend to be very aware that markets are artificial human creations, and therefore that setting rules of a market is, in their view, properly a function of government; and, that the power of markets is not absolute, and that another proper function of government is to be aware of potential market failure. Nor do liberals, I think, believe that markets are inherently morally good (although I don’t think that anyone who I would call a mainstream liberal think that markets are inherently morally evil). Therefore, for liberals, markets are instrumental, not (as I think is true for at least some libertarians) a goal themselves.

That’s Jonathan Bernstein, with the best description of modern liberalism I’ve read.ย  I think this speaks to the true reason that the Tea Party is largely spurned by liberals – accusations of socialism are just so ideologically off-base that it delegitimizes a lot of the really legitimate and interesting things that libertarians have to say about policy issues. I’m with Frum on this one – conservatives need to be more accountable for messaging – when there’s a rally with speakers that cry socialism, it taints the entire movement with an air of unseriousness that really damages any chance at actual discourse.

Last summer Tyler Cowen listed the five ways in which libertarianism could manifest itself in public discourse – unfortunately, it seems that the Tea Party has chosen door #4.

Update: For a good discussion of the other side of the coin, CATO today posted an interesting exploration of how progressives frequently call all libertarians “anti-government” anarchists.



  1. I want to commend all of you for working so hard and being so strong at helping the whitehouse and congress begin to address our U.S. and Global healthcare crisis. You have been AWESOME! my fellow Americans and peoples of the World. America and the World is better and safer for it. My greatest pride is the knowledge that I am one of you. And that you really get it. You really understand the importance of it all.

    There are some potentially very good things in the healthcare legislation. Especially with the reconciliation fix’s. The Democrats, Bernie Sanders and the Whitehouse did a GREAT! job of fighting to produce the best healthcare legislation that they could. They have earned all our strong support. And we should give it to them.

    But it was your relentless pressure and hard work that made the difference. Whatever good comes from this healthcare legislation, America and the peoples of the World will have each of you to thank. You were smart, creative, courageous and relentless. You fought together for the best legislation possible. And when you had to, you fought alone. No matter who stumbled and fell you continued to push and forge ahead. Fighting for the lives and health of the American people and the World. YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF YOUR-SELVES ๐Ÿ™‚

    It may come to pass that future generations will look back on us and say that we were ALL Americas Greatest Generations. And that healthcare reform was our finest hour. You should be proud of our leaders President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and the many other Democratic and independent fighters for the people in congress. They proved them-self worthy of the leadership of a GREAT! PEOPLE.

    But we are not done yet. This was just the beginning of healthcare reform, not the end. WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, ARE NOT! divided on healthcare legislation. The vast majority of you have been consistently crystal clear that this legislation does not go far enough. You want a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE!! available to everyone on day one. And you want it NOW! YOU MUST NOT ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

    WE THE PEOPLE have been crystal clear that we want an end to dependence on for-profit healthcare and the for-profit proxies called private for non-profit healthcare. The American people want the CHOICE! of a strong Government-run Public Option to replace their need or dependence on healthcare providers whose primary motivation is profit. Rather than providing the highest quality, easiest accessible and most affordable medically necessary healthcare possible. This is what the rest of the developed World has. And the American people want it too. They want healthcare ASSURANCE! Not, for-profit health insurance. And they want it NOW!

    Now is the time to continue the push for a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone that wants it on day one. Rationally it’s clear what we have to do to get this done. SUPPORT THE DEMOCRATS that supported you with a Public Option, and REMOVE as many republicans as you can. Not one republican in congress was willing to step across the isle to support a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE!! available to everyone on day one. NOT ONE! Let no candidate prevail this November that does not support a Strong Government-run Public Option.

    47,000 AMERICANS die each year from lack of healthcare. 120,000 die from treatable illness that don’t die in other developed countries. Hundreds of thousands of you are dieing from medical accidents in a rush to profit. And Millions are injured. Millions are driven into bankruptcy. All for the privilege of paying two to three times as much as any other people in the developed world for healthcare. HOGWASH!

    Additionally, tens of thousands of you and your children were killed and millions sickened and injured from a terror attack with H1N1 (swine flu). Released on the American people and the World by the for-profit healthcare industry. All in an attempt to panic and frighten you into accepting the oxymoronic criminal enterprise of private for-profit healthcare (The most costly, deadly, dangerous, and disgraceful product sold in America). H1N1 is still sickening people and killing them. Especially children, the young and the middle aged. And there will be a third wave. These are the terrorist you need to worry about the most. Even the so-called international terrorist would not do something so INSANE! But greed driven medical profiteers would and did.

    Apparently as far as republicans in GOVERNMENT are concerned, YOU! my fellow Americans – CAN JUST DROP DEAD! Including their own family members. Fools! Hundreds of thousands of you, and possibly millions of you will die from the long-term effects of your infection and poisoning with H1N1.

    So my fellow Human Beings. Rest-up, Take good care of the basics (Balanced nutrition, hydration, exercise, rest and POSITIVE emotional supports). Then wade back into the FIGHT! for a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. Drug re-importation, Abolishment or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost, NOW! You must take back control of your healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings. I’m glad to know of you. And proud to be one of you.

    See you on the battle field.


    jacksmith – WorkingClass ๐Ÿ™‚

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