The Republican Party and the conservative movement operate in a Bizzaro World where whatever they say is frequently the opposite of fact. Republicans claim to be the party of individual liberty and small government while promoting a government which is more intrusive in the private lives of individuals and the party which is far more responsible for increasing the deficit. They regularly deny the racism which is a major component of their views and the manner in which they promote create fear of minorities with their arguments against a social safety net. This conservative lack of awareness is fully on display in John Hawkin’s arguments on Why Liberalism Is On The Wrong Side Of History.
Hawkins began with the usual erroneous claim that liberals, who have historically been the party of defending liberty, stand for the opposite:
Liberals dream of one day seeing all Americans permanently locked in the smothering, cradle-to-grave death grip of the nanny state. Nothing excites a liberal more than the idea of controlling where you go to school, regulating your work and play, deciding what type of health care you’re going to have and then deciding when you get to retire and how much money you have when you do. Even if you want to choose, you can’t. Even if you want to break free, you’re stuck. You’re not allowed to make different choices because liberals have made it illegal.
Such projection of conservative views is seen throughout the article which distorts liberal beliefs while ignoring the fact that it is the conservatives who have been promoting restrictions on reproductive rights and using the power of the state to tell people who they may or may not marry. It is Republicans who seek to use the power of government to impose their religious views on everyone. Melissa McEwan has discussed this further.
Conservative views on liberty become more understandable when we understand that to conservatives, freedom frequently means the freedom to impose their religious views upon others, the freedom to avoid contributing to the social safety net, and the freedom from even necessary government economic regulations.
Lacking reality-based arguments, Hawkins resorted to an imaginary mischaracterization of liberal views:
The problem with that is not so much liberals living how they want to live; it’s that liberals want to force everyone else to live how they want to live. They don’t like guns; so no one should have guns. They like gay marriage; so everyone must be forced to like gay marriage. They like PBS; so everyone should be forced to pay for PBS…
If Justin Bieber is at the top of the pop charts, should EVERYONE be forced to listen to Justin Bieber? If Duck Dynasty is popular, should EVERYONE be forced to watch Duck Dynasty? If the two most popular foods in America turn out to be hotdogs and chocolate ice cream, should EVERYONE have to eat those two foods at every meal? We laugh at this sort of thinking in the marketplace, but that’s exactly the philosophy liberals have with government.
In reality, liberals believe in a system which results in a wide variety of views. Unlike many conservative, liberals encourage and support a wide variety individual choice–not only in popular culture but in life styles.
Considering recent headlines, it is not surprising that Hawkins distorts the Affordable Care Act with no recognition that the individual mandate was an option of a position long-promoted by conservatives, and that Obamacare provides people with more choices in health care. While liberalism has promoted a market economy, liberals recognize that there are areas where the market fails, such as in the financing of health care. The Affordable Care Act is giving choices to people who were denied health care coverage due to having medical problems–a fundamental failing of the old system. Supporting a solution using government in such situations is far different from conservative use of government to try to ban abortions, impose vaginal probes on women, restrict access to contraception, ban same-sex marriage, and prevent the use of marijuana, even for medical needs.
The historical trend has been towards liberalism. Some liberal gains of the past when government did impose restrictions, such as prohibiting child labor, are now widely accepted. Social Security and Medicare are considered essential portions of the social safety net by most people. We have reached a tipping point in which same-sex marriage is rapidly being accepted, and ending marijuana prohibition will probably follow soon after. Conservatives are on the wrong side of history–and their problem is only exacerbated when they show how they are out of touch with reality when they claim to be the party which supports liberty.