Liberalism saved Western civilization from the tyranny of the church. Liberalism freed us from superstition and its sequelae (sic), like burning people who said “no” to the dominant power; and it gave us freedom and democracy and science, leading to a world where people were free to make their own decisions and to pursue individual happiness rather than a path bound on all sides by damnation, dictated for them by religious authorities.
Conservatives have never quite gotten over this rejection of the past and with it, of their ultimate, capital-T Truth. We have seen them convince themselves in recent years of liberalism’s essential illigitimacy (sic) as a political ideology, leaving liberalism’s success, let alone its continued existence, to confound them.
Throughout our history, Republicans have sweat blood trying to re-define liberalism in a disparaging way. They have placed “anti-liberalism” high on their agenda as a method of winning hearts and minds of enough of a voting block to win elections. Evidence of this comes as recent as the last two elections. The tea-party hysteria of 2009/10 which was all about, but not limited to, birthers, 9-11 thruthers, anti-science, and anti-tax (This is low hanging fruit for opposition parties since the time of Alexander the Great. It is an easy way to win points with the electorate without actually having a plan to govern.), anti-immigrant, and a plethora of anti-Obama talking points swept Republicans into office all across the US and the House of Representatives.
Along with this has been their very effective years-long campaign to paint the American media as liberal – as if liberal were a bad word. The result of this has been the total ineffectiveness of the media to mediate the discourse and remind us all of what is actually true.
While Republicans offer up theory after theory of why liberalism is going to be the death of us all, and at the same time they fail to offer up any viable alternative to the liberal view that appeals to anyone who is neither white, nor over 50, nor Christian, nor straight, nor xenophobic, nor misogynistic, nor racist. They are quick to tell you how liberals think, how foreigners think, and how God thinks. Claiming the corner on “what God wants” has got to be the most arrogant and presumptuous position in the annals of political history.
If you want solid empirical evidence of this “anti-liberalism” approach to governing, you have to look no further than recent issues and the current US Senate. The health insurance mandate was dreamed up by conservative economists in the 1980’s.
They wanted a market-based alternative to the liberal notion of universal health care which enjoyed popular opinion. Many Republicans supported the idea. But, they have since turned on it because Obama is for it. And that’s all. They offer up no other explanation except that it will kill jobs/ruin the economy/destroy America – all without any factual basis.
They want an economy without government interference based on a market that self-corrects. Here’s the truth: If the market could self-correct, it would have already done so. The crash of 2008 is a prime example. Without a rapid response from the government, we would all be in bread lines still, along with the former rich.
The current US Senate has obstructed every bill that the Democrats have introduced without offering any viable alternative or compromise. They have used the filibuster to deny cloture to more legislation than any in history. Since January of 2010, the Senate Republicans have blocked over 375 bills including the farm bill, jobs bill, and the food safety bill. They have not once moved to compromise with the Democrats because their definition of compromise is total capitulation.
Anti-liberalism has become their mantra. This is why they lost Presidential and Senate elections. During the campaign Romney offered nothing more substantial than “trust me”, “I have business experience” (torn apart by the Obama campaign), and “Obama is bad” – mostly the latter. Now they find themselves in the awkward position of having to find themselves. I think the election was a splash in the face for the right, a wake up call, to see the U.S. as it really is rather than looking through their “anti-liberalism” glasses. This could be a good thing for America.