Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making The Case For Liberalism

"Liberalism" is being turned into an epithet by some, and is being misrepresented as "Socialism" or "Communism" by others. Its proud tradition is being sullied in many quarters: by the media, by pundits, by talking-heads, by the ignorant and unsophisticated. It is being dragged through the mud by those who are afraid of it like children are afraid of the bogeyman.

All of this comes about because fear is being peddled instead of reason, bigotry instead of humanism, dogma instead of fact. Liberalism has been tarred-and-feathered by those who are afraid of its tenets, even as they misstate those tenets to their own advantage. Let us talk not at Liberalism, but about it, and let us set the record straight as to what it means.

Some of the things Liberalism stands for:

  • Constitutionalism - The idea that a nation should operate under a set of codifications that explain how power is transferred from the people to their elected representatives, and that the people should have the right to question the delegation of such power. It also encompasses the actual laws that govern how a common government shall operate, and what duties that government shall be charged with.
  • Democracy - The election of representatives by the people should be free and fair, and should not be abridged by outside forces, the current government and its elected representatives, nor by artificially-created entities. Elections should be competitive, not relegated to a minimum of parties, but open to all who seek to represent their fellow citizens through obtaining higher office.
  • Human Rights - The true liberal does not divide people along lines of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, family background, or by any completely artificial measure. To the liberal, each and every human being is equal, and each human being should be free to pursue their lives as they see fit, except where such pursuit would infringe on those same rights that their fellow citizens also have.
  • Religious Freedom - Each and every human being, being equal, has the right to worship as they see fit, again, as long as such worship does not infringe on the rights of their fellow citizens. This includes the choice of belief system, the choice to change belief systems, or the choice to leave belief systems entirely. Whatever form your belief may take, it is your right to have it, but you cannot impose it on others.
  • Free Trade and Free Markets - Those who create goods and services deserve to sell these to whomever they choose, wherever they choose, at whatever rate the market will bear. Tariffs and protectionism only supplant the natural power of supply and demand to create wealth. Free trade is essential to maintain a truly free market, one that punishes the malfeasance of those who try to swindle customers rather than providing quality goods or honest service.
I defy anyone to tell me that Liberalism marks some form of detrimental reasoning, a path to wrack and ruin. It is a system that promotes the value of the individual, and the rights of the individual, and the ability of the individual to provide for themselves and their family, but does not leave the people to their own devices. It also asks that we all accept responsibility for our actions, and that we accept our role as part of a larger community, humanity, that deserves our compassion and support, just as much as we do as individuals. Liberalism says that each of us has worth, and that we deserve to be treated fairly, by ourselves and by our government.

When you hear those shrill and inchoate voices bleat their ignorant rage against the "liberal agenda," remember that they asking you to look at your fellow citizens as objects, not people, and are claiming that self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment are greater virtues than compassion, consideration, and charity. They are trying to convince you that having other, shadowy forces pull the strings of government is acceptable. They are trying to convince you that greed is good, and that you, too, will be rich some day, even as they do everything they can to lock you out of the club formed by The Monied Powers. They are trying to tell you that your faith is not as good as their faith, and that their faith must be enshrined in law, to protect you from yourself. They are telling you that they know best, even as they are busy dismantling the nation so many gave their lives to build.

Liberalism is a strong tree, given deep roots by the bulk of a humanity that knows in its heart that these tenets are true: that all are created equal in the sight of our world, and endowed with inalienable rights to personal freedom and the pursuit of a decent life. This tree cannot be tipped over so readily, simply through the machinations of those who would put themselves ahead of humanity and individual rights. The needs of the many intrinsically outweigh the needs of the few, for it is only together, as a nation, as a human race, that we succeed and grow. Those who seek to sever themselves from the main trunk, who determine that they are somehow superior to others, will eventually find themselves tottering on the edge of a rickety branch, to be blown away by the careless wind. Liberalism will stand, long after others have fallen.

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