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{Printed in the Colorado Springs Gazette, 12-25-08}

Liberals know that everyone else is “dogmatic”. Libertarians and free-market conservatives are blinded by the ideology of laissez-faire capitalism. Social conservatives are slaves to the dogma of fundamentalist Christianity.
Liberals are much more enlightened. They don’t approach the world with blinders.

They’re open to new ideas. They don’t elect people to implement grand Utopian schemes, they elect people to solve problems. Libertarian and conservative ideologies have failed, because the world is too complicated for grand, utopian solutions. That’s why liberalism will save America.

There’s only one thing wrong with this approach. It’s utter nonsense. It’s the epitome of self-delusion, on a scale approximately equal to the membership of the Democratic Party.

Liberals are open to new ideas only when they don’t threaten liberals. Vouchers, charter schools, and educational competition were new and innovative ideas long ago, but are only now bearing fruit because teachers unions fought them tooth and nail. When it comes to reforming public education, “progressives” are the most reactionary group in America.

Ditto with solving our tremendous entitlement problems. Retirement costs, health care costs and the national debt continue to grow like a malignant tumor, threatening to leave the next generation with a legacy of debt and long-term, chronic economic problems.

There are lots of new ideas out there that we desperately need to fix this, including private retirement accounts, medical savings accounts, and empowering individuals to take more control of and responsibility for their own lives.

The literature on these ideas is enormous and compelling, but liberals won’t hear of it.

There is no point in talking about it, because by definition anyone who believes that Americans benefit by being left alone is ideologically blinded and not worth talking to.

Anything that threatens the liberal paradigm of massive wealth redistribution is simply not discussable.
The pragmatic argument of the modern liberal goes something like this:

“Capitalism and markets are OK, but they’re imperfect and unfair. They can’t provide some things we all want, like environmental quality, and they don’t lead to a fair and just society. That’s why we live in a democracy, why we have taxes, and why we elect people to solve problems. Government exists to improve on what happens if you leave people to themselves.”

I’d have no problem with this view if it could be discussed rationally, because there are tons of problems with it that you can usually make clear to people in about five minutes.

But with liberals, this view isn’t pragmatic at all. It’s a religion, adhered to with all the passion and fire of the most committed Bible-thumping pastor you’ll ever meet. They worship at Our Lady of the Eternally Wise Politician.

So like it or not, thanks to the failure of the Republican Party to articulate a truly principled *and* pragmatic vision for what it will take to fix America, we are now stuck with the Church of Modern Liberalism guiding our Ship of State. This is the church that our president-elect belongs to, along with most of his cabinet, the Democratic Congress and sadly even some members of the Republican Party. So be it.

Those of us who beg to differ need to patiently but firmly call modern liberals on their hypocrisy. If they really believe in a pragmatic, “whatever works” approach, then we need to patiently but firmly make our case. And where our values differ, we need to say so unapologetically. Like this:

Hear Me, Ye Modern Liberals: I am a law-abiding, patriotic, and responsible citizen of the United States. I do not give a damn about fairness. Nor do I care one whit for any kind of equality save equality under the law.

I care about human flourishing. I care about economic growth. I care about having everything get better and cheaper. I care about freedom. I believe the evidence shows that freedom from below works better than planning from above. I’ll change my mind when the evidence tells me to. Can you say the same?

If so, I look forward to the discussion. If not, then at least have the decency to leave me alone. When it comes to the Church of Modern Liberalism, I choose to worship elsewhere. Please separate it from my state.