09.29.2011 0

Liberal extremities

By David Bozeman — The prevailing notion — and conservatives fall for it, too — is that on one side of the ideological spectrum, you’ll find liberalism, on the direct opposite, conservatism, and directly in the middle is the mainstream of American thought. On the contrary, there is but one extreme in American thought, and that is liberalism.

Recently, a caller to a radio talk show opined that all effective leaders govern from the center. Liberals and conservatives both rouse their bases, lending a pep talk when needed, but even President Obama knows that leadership requires maneuvering from the middle. The caller’s ultimate model, however, was Bill Clinton.

The caller is correct — President Clinton recovered after his party was crushed in the 1994 mid-terms, and he took a giant step to the center (some would argue that he was dragged). Late in his presidency he even boldly declared that the era of big government was over. President Clinton, whether he believed his own words or not, saw the writing on the wall. Republicans, on the other hand, who cling to the center, including John McCain, Bob Dole, both Presidents Bush and numerous others, ultimately banish the GOP to the minority column. Funny how that works.

Whenever liberalism appears victorious, as in 2008, the likes of James Carville inform us that Republicans should prepare for at least 40 years in the political wilderness. With the ascendency of the Tea Party and the 2010 mid-terms, predictably, came word that sides and labels don’t matter, after all. A new group, No Labels, was founded upon that dreary, uninspiring notion and has excited about as many Americans as the Oprah Winfrey Network.

So, eschewing sides usually means that one side, liberalism, is losing. Therefore, if my side is bad, then both sides are bad, so let’s call it a draw. An interviewee on a recent CNN feature on job creation noted that the relevant argument of the day is not small government versus big government but rather SMART government. A vague concept, one that could conceivably work. On the other hand, does the free market demand more streamlined and efficient statism? Are we talking principle here or degree?

Typically, liberalism does well diluting itself and adopting the protective coloration of mainstream thought. According to a recent Gallup poll, 41 percent of respondents identify themselves as conservative, compared to just 21 percent liberal. Granted, poll numbers and trends remain fickle barometers of public thought, but it is liberalism that has been butting heads with the mainstream for at least 40 years.

Even conceding proper stances on civil rights, worker and child protection, etc., liberalism has been seeking to right America, not through our own corrective principles outlined in the Constitution and other founding documents, but through “transformation” and building “new foundations.”

In April 2009, President Obama delivered what is now known as his “New Foundation” address at George Washington University. Transformation has been a dominant theme of his political life, and he said that we need to become a nation where we “save and invest, where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.” Consume less? What are you willing to give up, Mr. President? Recently, in his insistence on higher taxes on the rich, he declared, “at a certain point, you made enough money.”

Conservatives are far less likely to impose limits on earning and consumption, but liberals recoil, like a vampire from a cross, from the crass, consumption-based lifestyles of ordinary Americans. Liberals have battled Wal-Mart, SUVs, flush toilets, light bulbs, oil exploration in the most God-forsaken outreaches of the country, Happy Meals, Oreos, federal recognition of the Boy Scouts, etc. A few nutjobs on the right notwithstanding, liberals will state, with even more conviction in their unguarded moments, their extreme views (such as candidate Obama’s opinion of Americans clinging to guns and religion) and goals for social transformation (raise your hand if you’ve ever been told that communist Cuba has a superior health care system).

Conservatives and Tea Partiers are rallying for fiscal sanity and Constitutional government. Radical stuff. While those principles are open to debate and discussion, they do not qualify as extreme. The predominantly liberal political-media culture tends to marginalize thought it doesn’t like.

Americans may not always vote conservative, but it doesn’t take an ideological litmus test to locate the nether regions of political thought. Common sense and everyday values will do. Whenever such all-American ideals as success and a fully-stacked pantry are stigmatized, we all know it is liberals wagging their fingers.

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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