Open letter to progressives… or whatever liberals aren’t ashamed of calling themselves today
Dear Not Conservatives,
You motherfuckers. You really fucked this shit up, didn’t you?
You’ve forgotten what it means to be liberal.
The truth is, it’s not you’re fault. Its actual definition is so outdated that it’s referred to as classical liberalism. You know, like those cats from the Scottish Enlightenment whose work inspired the declaration of independence: John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, David Hume. I mean, conservatives had to invent a new word — libertarianism — just to make it ok for them to accept anything containing the word “liberal” without having to call a spade a spade.
But the good news is this: if you reclaim liberal, and I mean really own that shit for what it is, conservatives will have nothing left to offer the American electorate.
Conservatives run on the pretense of wanting to limit the power and scope of government. We all know that’s bullshit. Shit, some don’t even pretend anymore. They’re just big government conservatives. But the only issue they have left that gains any traction with the electorate, and there is a point to be made here if you’re growns up enough to deal with real life, is fiscal stuff. And this is not to say they’re anywhere near anything that resembles “good” on fiscal/economic/regulatory policy. They just run on it. And don’t even do that well. Politicians are a joke.
Now here’s the potential difficulty for modern day liberals: you just need to out-liberal the conservatives. I’m talking classically. Fortunately, you already should on almost everything but the fiscal stuff. And the healthcare stuff. And the entitlement stuff. And regulations. Taxes too. Wars. Some other stuff. Ok, this might seem crazy, but just hear me out.
Remember Bernie Sanders going all free market on CNBC talking head and faux free marketeer Larry Kudlow (who equates Alexander Hamilton with free markets, which is an automatic nonstarter since Hamilton was actually the original crony capitalist, but I digress) amidst the financial crisis back in 2007? You only need the first thirty seconds for the true impact.
Proof positive that this shit can work!
Conservatives pretend to be fiscal hawks when it suits them. No secret. But the truth is, and this has noting to do with liberal or conservative, everybody needs to be like 180 degrees more hawkish in reality, and not just on a cable news split screen shouting match, because none of us are immune to… what’s it called… math.
To liberalize financial and other regulations is to repeal them, and yes that’s a good thing. Deregulate is really just code for reregulate. Even “regulate” is just code for giving the most powerful factions the ability to pad their bottom lines at everybody else’s expense by paying for codified protections from competition, taxation, and prosecution. In simpler terms, to regulate is the power to dole out favors. To properly out-liberal them you must un-regulate from the public sector to allow market solutions to emerge and (actually) work. So be more liberal.
Take a recent real life example. Some people don’t want to purchase and eat food with GMOs. I’m also aware that some people like to argue over the science behind GMOs and whether or not they’re harmful, and that’s great. But good, bad, or ugly, here’s what’s relevant for now…
There’s been plenty of rabble rabble made in recent years about passing laws at all kinds of levels of all kinds of governments to mandate food labeling for GMOs. Through all of the noise, certain organizations like The Non-GMO Project (which has actually been around for a decade now) emerged as the regulators of record. Their logo began popping up on stuff I was already buying, regardless of my GMO indifference, and I remembered thinking that desire is a powerful force. Grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and restaurants like Chipotle have responded by reducing, if not eliminating, GMOs from their businesses. Other grocery stores have both options. It seems that passing laws can’t hold a candle to consumer demand. Who knew?
Speaking of supply and demand stuff, when you tax something, you get less of that something. To liberalize tax policy is to lower taxes as well as closing loopholes. The tax code is just a game invented for those wealthy enough to game it. Start to take chunks out of that, game over. So be more liberal.
To liberalize education policy and actually turn things around, you need to limit the scope of government intrusion into the classroom and allow for competition and innovation to extract new solutions and practices to better advance learning, because clearly all of these standardized tests aren’t turning the trick. Just let teachers teach so we know which ones are good, bad, overpaid, underpaid, etc. All of which is a long way around saying, be more liberal.
To liberalize foreign policy means ending the wars and the Global Military Team America World Police Empire in favor of talk and trade. To liberalize immigration policy means to open borders. Liberal. More.
Healthcare. I’ve already said all I’m going to say on it. When a cartelized industry’s companies’ respective stock prices are rising in value as a result of legislation being passed, that’s probably not a good sign. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you need to be more liberal. You can read more later if you still have the stomach for it: Like your health plan? Go fuck yourself!
I’m sure by now you can see a pattern forming here, being more liberal: remove as much government as possible and power to the people. That’s what those aforementioned enlightened Scotts were all about. They were liberals in their time. You still have a chance to be. Shit, there’s even a list of distinguished minds from across the globe that recently threw down the gauntlet and reclaimed the word liberal cuz they’re not scared of it!
Conservatives will have nothing left. Nothing. Women’s reproductive rights? They lose. LGBT equality? They lose. Drug war? They lose. Conservatives lose.
If that’s what really motivates you, then just imagine liberals winning election after election against some teary eyed look alike of a hybrid Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum. You might also have a positive impact on liberty in the process, but you don’t have to pretend to like it.
Originally published at spatialorientation.com on July 20, 2015.