Understanding Domestic Liberalism
One common bond connecting the different pieces of the liberal domestic agenda together is the belief that people must accept that they will be forever be paying more and more to the government to receive less and less. Consider the major domestic issues facing the United States right now…
- Education: Liberals see nothing odd when continuing tax-increases greater than the rate of inflation are needed just to preserve the existing system (hello, Portsmouth, Cranston, and East Providence, for starters). Neither school choice as a more rational way for allocating resources, nor the weak correlation between education spending and education outcomes is worth discussion.
- Healthcare: Liberals generally favor a government takeover of the healthcare system a) so they can provide universal coverage by increasing the price of healthcare without improving the breadth of services available to the people doing the paying and b) so they can use the power of government to control costs by limiting treatments.
- Retirement security: Liberals do not believe that changes in the basic structure of social security should be considered. They believe that government will always be able to shore-up the existing system by raising taxes and/or reducing benefits by tinkering with cost-of-living adjustments and moving up the retirement age.
The fact that contemporary liberalism, when addressing the three biggest domestic issues of the day, combines an affinity for centralized bureaucracy with an uncritical attitude towards social systems that deliver ever-diminishing returns is no coincidence. It is the natural result of the version of liberal ideology than came into being in the 1960s and 1970s…
- Tenant #1: America is experiencing an inevitable historical decline. Sure, America had a good run for about 300 years or so, mostly because of favorable geography, a lack of hostile neighbors and good luck. But that part of history is now over. Paying more to receive less will be the norm for the foreseeable future.
- Tenant #2: Average people can’t be trusted to deal with the ramifications of the great decline, so their lives need to be directly managed by government as much as is possible. It is only the elites within government who possess the necessary wisdom to properly cushion people from the effects of America’s shrinking role in history.
- Liberal Democrats tend to believe that people will not follow, unless they are directly paid off directly in some fashion. That’s why (historically), Democrats have tended to be more tolerant of corruption than Republicans.
- Liberal Republicans, on the other hand, tend to believe in their own ability to convince people that they are the natural leaders of society. They believe they can make a compelling argument that they’re the managers who will make big government work for everyone.