Monday, December 13, 2004

Mistaken identity

I have been laboring under a misunderstanding as to my principles, according to a recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times. Here I thought that liberalism meant, in part, getting the government off my back. According to this commentary piece by Thomas L. Krannawitter, vice president of the Claremont Institute and director of the institute's Lincoln Fellowship Program, I intend no such thing. Apparently, I and my fellow liberals are out to “replace limited, constitutional government with a regulatory-welfare state of unlimited powers. “

Wow! When did I ever say that? I thought the whole idea was to limit government powers. Granted, decent highways and maybe throw in some health insurance would be nice, but I ain't demanding them. Then again, "My way or the highway," sounds pretty good as a political philosophy, doesn't it?

This statement comes embedded in a piece about Supreme Court Justice Thomas and an argument that Thomas is a proponent of
strict-constructionist Constitutionalism. Yeah, fine, Thomas wants to keep the clock of time stopped dead in the 18th Century; what’s new about that? What is interesting to me is this chap Krannawitter’s take on liberalism. He quotes a 1920s “liberal political scientist,” Charles Merriam: the ‘“natural law and natural rights" of the founders had been discarded by intellectuals "with practical unanimity." Instead, "the state … is the creator of liberty." ‘

Hmm. Maybe to Stalinists or Leninists, but certainly not to me, and most certainly not to the present-day Democratic Party, Greens, or even radicals. Real radicals say stuff like "Down with the State!, and throw bombs as puntuation marks. In actual fact, Krannawitter is probably mis-reading or mis-quoting Merriam, a noted political scientist from the University of Chicago (my alma mater). Perhaps this is knee-jerking on the part of the above conservative writer, but it does give me pause for thought. You see, this guy probably hates fun-loving liberals, and is looking for a way to justify it. He found his reason in a dead poly sci’s writings, which certainly do not reflect the current political climate, or the ideological bent of the mainstream of America, as quoted.

Now, Krannawitter is being given op-ed space in the Sunday LA Times (as a member of the “liberal media”, the Times is obliged to carry conservative pieces on same. Wait. That doesn’t scan. Oh well), so I can assume that this conservative’s opinion and understanding of liberal views is pretty mainstream.

But he’s flat wrong, and that, my friends, is the problem. So bear this in mind when you try to have a rational discourse with a conservative: You think he thinks you’re you, but what he really thinks is that you’re not. In fact, he thinks you’re a Commie. He’s still reading 1920s poly sci and handouts from the American Family League.

My advice is to ignore them and get on with your life. These people are blockheads and you are wasting your time, energy and money trying to convince them otherwise. Do organize for change, keep on the get-out-the-vote trail, give money to Dean, whatever, but don't waste your time trying to argue with them. They're all idiots and won't listen to you anyway.

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