I’m such a lousy liberal!!!

I’ve been spending much more time reading conservative stuff than liberal stuff. No, I’m not in danger of going over to the other side, but “they” make some good points (and almost-good points) that need to be debated. At this point I’d rather wallow in (partial) disagreement than chant “Amen” in response to my ilkmates.

Example: In a post about what Republicans should do in November to win over disenhanted voters, Anonymous comments, “Just hope the GOP has a coherent economic libertarian viewpoint and doesn’t get sidetracked with their central planning-like social fetishes.” To which Old School Grump adds:

Anonymous at 10:34, you make an important point. Republicans can probably win over plenty of Independents and Undecideds if they will focus on small gov’t and fiscal restraint–which, while not exactly their strong point ‘lo this past decade, is currently an attractive claim that is up for grabs, and they are the most credible potential grabbers.

BUT, at the same time, they need to back off from the hardcore rote conservative stance on social issues. Why should it be that if I want to vote for someone who proposes less government, I have to accept a package that includes active anti-contraception, anti-abortion, anti- any school sex ed that addresses birth control, anti-gay rights, and anti-stem cell research declarations?

OSG sounds like a solid libertarian–not to be confused with a liberal, of course–and the sentiments above are a pithy expression of the libertarian viewpoint. Feel free to quibble.

[Correction note: I originally had “what Republicans can do in 2012,” and I corrected it to ” . . . in November.”]

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8 Responses to I’m such a lousy liberal!!!

  1. Old School Grump says:

    Gee, I think of myself as a tepid liberal; it never occurred to me I might be a libertarian. I think I’d be a tepid libertarian too, given that I don’t want government out of everything, and that I believe effective government regulation is important.

    I think the R and D parties are equally to blame for our current economic mess. The question is, which group is likely to do the better job getting the country out of it? The elephant in the room (not an allusion to the R elephant) is how to deal with the cascading consequences of the trillions of dollars of “home value” that has evaporated. Not surprisingly, no politician of any stripe has had the courage to tackle it head-on.

    What’s a voter to do? I dunno, but I do know that if someone comes up with a credible approach, and that someone is a Republican, and that Republican makes it clear he (or she) has no intention of sticking his damn nose into people’s bedrooms, I’ll certainly give a listen.

    What’s a “credible approach”? I know it involves some tax increases for the likes of me (to pretend otherwise is completely idiotic); it’s the spending cuts side I’m waiting to
    see. And the typical trick of promising reduced government layouts in the vague, hazy distant future won’t cut it.

    • Grump,

      Whether the appropriate political label would be tepid liberal or tepid libertarian, you seem rational. That’s a good start.

      Gov’t stay out of the bedroom? We agree. Some tax increases inevitable? We agree. Cut spending? We agree.

      The “cut spending” clause is much tougher than most people will admit. You say you’ll insist that a candidate specify what he/she intends to cut, that you won’t fall for “the typical trick of promising reduced government [p]ayouts in the vague, hazy distant future.” But if a candidate is bold enough to offer specifics in the here and now, it could mean instant defeat. As you’re aware, the time-tested trick in politics is to issue just the right glowing generalities for the particular moment. YOU might not eat it up, but many will.

  2. David Fryman says:

    It’s important to say exactly what we mean by “small gov’t”. Both conservatives and liberals agree that gov’t must do certain things and cannot do certain things. We just disagree about which ones. Liberals would do well to remind voters that civil liberties are just as much about limited gov’t as lower taxes.

    • I’d say liberals don’t want to see big cuts–or any cuts?–in spending on unemployment benefits, public education, substance abuse programs, alternatives to incarceration, or jobs programs, and that (at least secretly) they’d like to see much less money spent on defense. The priorities for conservatives are reversed, don’t you think?

      By the above criteria, I’m not a full-fledged liberal, since I’ve seen enough extravagance in both private and public organizations to make me an enthusiastic across-the-board Scrooge.

  3. David Fryman says:

    I think each of those issues should be addressed individually. The focus should not be on cuts vs. spending, but rather on spending money on efficient programs and cutting inefficient ones.

    • Eliminate foolish spending; use your money for things that work. Sounds straightforward.

      But people consider some programs inefficient (whether they are or not) based on their ideological prejudices, while other programs skate through as though there were a giant wink. Building new prisons, for instance: Are prisons cost-effective? Should we build some more, so we can keep incarcerating the menaces to society? Plenty of folks would say, Of course we should. Gotta deter crime, and if we can’t do that, we gotta keep ourselves safe.

      A liberal, though, tends to say, “Don’t build more prisons! Instead, spend money on programs to retrain the people who otherwise will wind up incarcerated.” Etc. etc.

  4. David Fryman says:

    “But people consider some programs inefficient (whether they are or not) based on their ideological prejudices”

    That’s what we need to fight against. There are “liberal” programs that could be made more efficient (e.g., public schools) and “conservative” programs that could be made more efficient (e.g., criminal justice).

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