Updated: Aug 4, 2022
DEMOCRATS are NOT Liberal
(Why would they say they are?)
A forgotten but important truth is the fact that Democrats stole the term, "liberal" and that term is actually a misrepresentation of who they really are.
It was well known, as far back as the early 1960s and earlier, that Democrats were not liberal.
Milton Friedman pointed this fact out in his book, 'Capitalism and Freedom', which was published in 1962 but was assembled from lectures he held in the preceding years.
“It is extremely convenient to have a label for the political and economic viewpoint elaborated in this book. The rightful and proper label is liberalism. Unfortunately, “As a supreme, if unintended compliment, the enemies of the system of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label,” so that liberalism has, in the United States, come to have a very different meaning than it did in the nineteenth century or does today over much of the Continent of Europe. As it developed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the intellectual movement that went under the name of liberalism emphasized freedom as the ultimate goal and the individual as the ultimate entity in the society. It supported laissez-faire at home as a means of reducing the role of the state in economic affairs and thereby enlarging the role of the individual; it supported free trade abroad as a means of linking the nations of the world together peacefully and democratically. In political matters, it supported the development of representative government and of parliamentary institutions, reduction in the arbitrary power of the state, and protection of the civil freedoms of individuals. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, and especially after 1930 in the United States, the term liberalism came to be associated with a very different emphasis, particularly in economic policy. It came to be associated with a readiness to rely primarily on the state rather than on private voluntary arrangements to achieve objectives regarded as desirable. The catchwords became welfare and equality rather than freedom. The nineteenth-century liberal regarded an extension of freedom as the most effective way to promote welfare and equality; the twentieth-century liberal regards welfare and equality as either prerequisites of or alternatives to freedom. In the name of welfare and equality, the twentieth-century liberal has come to favor a revival of the very policies of state intervention and paternalism against which classical liberalism fought. In the very act of turning the clock back to seventeenth-century mercantilism, he is fond of castigating true liberals as reactionary! The change in the meaning attached to the term liberalism is more striking in economic matters than in political. The twentieth-century liberal, like the nineteenth-century liberal, favors parliamentary institutions, representative government, civil rights, and so on. Yet even in political matters, there is a notable difference. Jealous of liberty, and hence fearful of centralized power, whether in governmental or private hands, the nineteenth-century liberal favored political decentralization. Committed to action and confident of the beneficence of power so long as it is in the hands of a government ostensibly controlled by the electorate, the twentieth-century liberal favors centralized government. He will resolve any doubt about where power should be located in favor of the state instead of the city, of the federal government instead of the state, and of a world organization instead of a national government. Because of the corruption of the term liberalism, the views that formerly went under that name are now often labeled conservatism. But this is not a satisfactory alternative. The nineteenth-century liberal was a radical, both in the etymological sense of going to the root of the matter, and in the political sense of favoring major changes in social institutions. So too must be his modern heir. We do not wish to conserve the state interventions that have interfered so greatly with our freedom, though, of course, we do wish to conserve those that have promoted it. Moreover, in practice, the term conservatism has come to cover so wide a range of views, and views so incompatible with one another, that we shall no doubt see the growth of hyphenated designations, such as libertarian-conservative and aristocratic-conservative. Partly because of my reluctance to surrender the term to proponents of measures that would destroy liberty, partly because I cannot find a better alternative, I shall resolve these difficulties by using the word liberalism in its original sense—as the doctrines pertaining to a free man.”
— Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman, 1962
NOTE: The term "Laissez-faire" means free-market economics or capitalism.
Milton Friedman explained it well. However, his observation was detected much earlier and also noted by F.A. Hayek
“But there is one point of phraseology which I ought to explain here to forestall any misunderstanding. I use throughout the term “liberal” in the original, nineteenth-century sense in which it is still current in Britain. In current American usage, it often means very nearly the opposite of this. It has been part of the camouflage of leftish movements in this country, helped by the muddleheadedness of many who really believe in liberty, that “liberal” has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control. I am still puzzled why those in the United States who truly believe in liberty should not only have allowed the left to appropriate this almost indispensable term but should even have assisted by beginning to use it themselves as a term of opprobrium. This seems to be particularly regrettable because of the consequent tendency of many true liberals to describe themselves as conservatives."
— F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, Preface to the 1956 U.S. paperback edition
(Note: The first publish date of the hardback version was published in 1943)
Even earlier, from around the progressive age, from President Woodrow Wilson, through the early 1900s, and into the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt of the 1930s, the term "liberalism" was being twisted to mean something quite different than what it meant in the 19th century.
“It was also around this time that through a dexterous sleight of hand, Progressivism came to be renamed “liberalism.” In the past, liberalism had referred to political and economic liberty as understood by Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke and Adam Smith. For them, the ultimate desideratum was maximum individual freedom under the benign protection of a minimalist state. The progressives, led by Dewey, subtly changed the meaning of this term, importing the Prussian vision of liberalism as the alleviation of material and educational poverty, and liberation from old dogmas and old faiths. For progressives liberty no longer meant freedom from tyranny, but freedom from want, freedom to be a “constructive” citizen, the Rousseauian and Hegelian “freedom” of living in accord with the state and the general will. Classical liberals were now routinely called conservatives, while devotees of social control were dubbed liberals. Thus in 1935, John Dewey would write in Liberalism and Social Action that activist government in the name of the economically disadvantaged and social reconstruction had “virtually come to define the meaning of liberal faith.”
Given this worldview, it shouldn’t be surprising that so many liberals (in the modern sense) believed the Soviet Union was the freest place on earth.”
— Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg
Note: (addition above mine for clarity)
In a future post, I will attempt to explain why promising freedom from want actually guarantees tyranny.
However, for now, I want to show that the term "liberalism", has not really changed.
For the most part, even Wikipedia would agree that liberalism is a political philosophy based on liberty, citizen rule, and equality before the law. Classic liberals support individual rights, democracy, the right to life, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and a free-market economy.
Anyone who pays attention to modern politics knows that those qualities more closely reflect those of the Republicans than the Democrats.
So what are some of the political positions supported by the American Democratic Party?
Abortion: Democrats claim to be for the rights of women to choose abortion while denying the right of life to babies during the gestation phase (pregnancy). Could this be due to the fact that babies can't vote? Denying the right to life goes against the basic principle of classic liberalism; the right to life.
Socialized Healthcare: Democrats worked hard during the Obama administration to move the US toward a national socialized medical system. The danger of this is that when the government controls your healthcare, they control who is worthy of life and who isn't. This sounds like they are attempting to extend the scope of the abortion argument beyond the womb.
Furthermore, a government can neither guarantee eternal life nor perpetual health. Healthcare is not free. Human rights are rights that are given to individuals which do not impede on the rights of another. If you promise healthcare to one person at the expense of another, you are violating the rights of the latter person.
Socialized Education: Let's face it. Our national school system has been socialized for years.
The danger here is that the central planners can fill our children's minds with propaganda that may be antithetic to the beliefs that we, as parents, wish to instill in our children. This can and more than often does violate our rights to raise our children as we see fit, it violates religious rights, and it assumes that the government knows better than the citizens what their children should believe. Clearly, the framers of the constitution saw excessive government intervention as tyrannical and would have opposed it. Furthermore, any true classic liberal would be appalled that the level of social engineering in our educational system has overtaken the basic fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Racism: The Democratic Party defended slavery, started the US Civil War, founded the Klu Klux Klan, imposed segregation (Jim Crow laws), and fought against the civil rights acts during the 1950s and 60s. During WWII, Japanese Americans were put into internment camps by the presidential administration of Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt.
To this day, the Democrats use identity politics to pit races against each other. For example, groups backed by the Democrats, such as La Raza (The Race) and BLM (Black Lives Matter) are clearly focused on race over character and are actually backed by communist funding. These groups and others like them, without a doubt to anyone who has even an ounce of rational thought, are racist.
A faction, not a small one, of the Democratic Party, is anti-semitic; denying the nation of Israel's right to self-defense and self-determination. In nearly every instance of conflict with other nations, Democrats take the side opposing Israel.
Free Speech: Democrats have great disdain for free speech. Democrats stage violent protests when Republican or Libertarian speakers are invited to speak on college campuses. They usually go to the point of blocking events. They have safe spaces on campuses where speech they deem "unacceptable" is not allowed.
When peaceful protests are planned with Republican-leaning viewpoints, the group, Antifa, a Communist-based group comprised of mostly democrat party-line voters, stage violent counter-protests.
Hatred for capitalism: Democrats are also typically anti-capitalist. They consider excessive profit as bad, unless, of course, they are on the receiving end.
These points are merely cracking the surface but there is enough evidence to conclude that Democrats, in the US, are not liberal. Any classic liberal who is still registered in the Democratic Party is clearly in a party that is diametrically opposed to their beliefs and should rethink their allegiance.
Democrats are definitely not liberal, in the classical sense. If not, what are they and why would they lie about who they are? I will be investigating this in my upcoming posts.