Previously: Why The Worldwide Fast Didn't Work
That's right. We need more liberals.
Am I saying we need more Democrats? GOOD HEAVENS, NO! Those people have lost their minds!
A smattering of politicians who once obtained traces of liberal sensibilities might still have been found within the Democratic party fifty years ago, but those folks have pretty much all died off. Today the party led by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer has nary an actual liberal to be found within its leadership ranks; the party today stands completely antithetical to what it means to be liberal. Their acts and pronouncements are decidedly illiberal; anything but liberal. They may be fascists and authoritarians, but they are certainly not liberals.
Today the term liberal has been so tainted that anyone hoping to advocate for true liberalism has to identify as a Classical Liberal to keep from being confused with those modern totalitarians. Totalitarianism, as you may have guessed, is starkly inimical to true liberalism. The two are polar opposites.
You want to know who was a classical liberal? Joseph Smith, the founder of our faith was a classical liberal. So were the founders of our system of government, as were most civilized Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. To be "liberal" meant one subscribed to a certain outlook, an expansive and generous creed, a code of behavior that asserted that all should be treated with kindness and compassion, that no one should aspire to force another to act against his will. Writing about Mark Twain's personal liberalism, author Jeffrey Tucker describes what it meant to be a liberal in a time when the meaning of liberalism was less ambiguous:
Doesn't sound at all like any modern liberals you know, does it?
Here's Where It All Went Wrong
Not long after Mark Twain's death in 1910, liberalism was already on the verge of transforming into something precarious. Various scholars hold differing views as to precisely when that line of demarcation can be pinpointed, but I incline to the view that things really began to go south under president Woodrow Wilson.
Wilson, a Democrat who promoted what he called a "progressive" view of government, saw himself, as president, to be the representative of the American people. This would have horrified the founders, who envisioned the president as not having any direct role whatsoever in governing the country or the people. The role of the president was to preside over one branch of government. If he had any duty toward the people at all, it was to prevent the legislature from passing laws abrogating the people's rights. He was called the "preside-ant" because his job is to preside over the Executive branch of government. It actually matters who or what precisely the preside-ant is authorized to preside over, and it isn't the citizens of the states. That's why I always smile when I hear some lefty insist Trump is "not my president." Of course he isn't. His authority doesn't extend anywhere near you.
It was Wilson's unsettling expansion of presidential authority that eventually brought us to where we are today, where many Americans operate under the faulty assumption that we elect a president every four years to act as a sort of emperor who rules the nation. That couldn't be further from the truth, nor further from the classically liberal idea that no one has authority to rule over anyone else. The people rule themselves, not each other, and they have no power to elect politicians to rule over them, either.
Wilson also violated a major tenet of liberalism by leading America into The Great War, with the promise that our efforts would once and for all "make the world safe for democracy." We find that idea quaint and naive today, but Americans fully bought into the propaganda that made them think they were powerful enough to change the whole world for the good, and that they could accomplish that good by engaging in massive acts of violence. Mormons who participated in that great sin were as guilty as anyone else -more guilty, I would suggest, because we had scriptural imperatives warning us against going up into battle against any nation unless the Lord himself commanded it, and the Lord had not commanded us to leave the borders of our lands in order to murder foreigners in other lands. (See D&C 98:33, as well as pretty much the whole of the Book of Mormon.)
In the meantime, by 1913 control of the people's own money was stealthily being taken from them through passage of the Federal Reserve Act, so that over time the people would no longer have control over their own destinies. Whatever you wanted to call this new political religion of control by the ruling class, it certainly wasn't liberal.
Regarding the liberal ethos, Jeffrey Tucker writes that a half century after Mark Twain's death,
"liberalism had moved full swing toward the very opposite of its 19th-century meaning, while those who opposed government management and favored free enterprise were called conservatives."But conservatism was not going to be America's saving grace either. Americans who continued to consider themselves to be liberals (whatever that had come to mean by mid-century) tended to align themselves with the Democratic party, while conservatives generally joined up with the Republicans. Whatever one's guiding philosophy, this was a big mistake, because both parties, believe it or not, do not have the well-being of the country -or its people- in mind. What political parties have in mind is gaining power for the party -and thus for themselves- and keeping that power by any means necessary.
You can see why both Democrats and a surprising number of office-holding Republicans have vigorously opposed Donald Trump. Many, many politicians on both sides of the aisle had a good thing going before this bumbling outsider, this impertinent disrupter who didn't understand how things work in Washington, showed up and tipped over the card table. He was seen as a threat to the power base of both establishment parties.
James Madison warned against aligning with what he called "factions" because, even though it was human nature to align oneself with others whose interests were similar to one's own, the result could lead to corruption within those factions and the deprivation of the rights of the minority. Sadly, Madison was shouting into the wind, because no sooner had the fledgling government been formed than it splintered into competing political factions.
Well actually, it didn't happen immediately. Americans were unanimous in their belief that George Washington should be the first president of these United States. But while Washington was still in office, Alexander Hamilton headed a party that called itself the Federalists. On the surface that didn't seem like a bad idea, since the new government was indeed a federation of the several states; or in other words it was a federalist system. But Madison and Jefferson were concerned over Hamilton's aspirations to accrue too much power in a centralized government, so they founded the Democratic-Republican Party in response.
John Adams was elected on the Federalist ticket as our country's second president, but while Adams was in office, Madison's and Jefferson's fears were realized. Adams felt it was wrong for anyone to speak ill of the president, and he tried to have his critics arrested. This resulted in Thomas Jefferson running against him in the next election under the newly formed Democratic-Republican party. Jefferson was the most perfectly liberal president this nation has ever had. And if it was inevitable that America was going to have political parties electing their officeholders, the Democratic-Republican Party would have been close to ideal. Too bad it didn't last.
Following Jefferson's administration there were a handful of other parties vying for prominence, such as the Whigs, the Anti-Masons, and the Free Soil Party (slogan: "Help yourself to as much dirt as you want!") But eventually the Democratic-Republican party split into the two factions we know today.
The differences between these early parties were so negligible by today's standards that it seems hard for us to believe they mattered. Take the contest between the Federalist Party and its challenger, the Democratic-Republican Party. Unlike today, neither party had its eyes set on altering the constitution or making any drastic changes to the law. And even as recently as the mid-twentieth century, the divide was not so stark as it is today. In the middle of the twentieth century there were liberals and conservatives in both parties. When John F. Kennedy ran for the senate, he ran as a conservative Democrat. So did his brother Robert. Larry McDonald was the most conservative person in the entire senate from 1975 to 1983, and he too was a Democrat. So party affiliation didn't use to matter anything like it does today.
I don't align myself with either political party, for the simple reason that I don't wish to be controlled in my thinking. Once you choose a tribe to belong to, you tend to defend that tribe no matter what, and you oppose the other tribe, blocking out any information that might cause you to reconsider your positions. I don't like being controlled, not by politicians, and certainly not by the news media. I'm certainly not going to follow the frequent counsel of Hollywood celebrities, even though I am well aware they are smarter and wiser than me.
I am challenged quite often on Facebook by political partisans who are unable to think critically about the candidates or positions they defend. They just know they are somehow obliged to oppose whatever position I put forward, yet they are consistently incapable of forming a reasoned argument as to why. They almost never put forth an original thought but instead parrot falsehoods they got from watching the legacy media. Yes, it can be amusing to watch those who believe facts are (pick one) racist, misogynist, or should not be permitted, but it can also be quite sad to see this kind of degeneracy take hold in a fellow human being.
So I know what partisan politics can do to a person's brain. Defending the indefensible merely because at some point you decided to choose one side over the other and you're going to stick with your candidate for no other reason than you have a deranged hatred for the other guy...well, in the end that is not going to go well with you, or for the country. At some point you're going to have to introduce yourself to reason, logic, and common sense.
That doesn't mean I don't vote; it just means I vote for candidates who share my principles; I do not vote merely because I belong to a party that claims to align with my principles. For example, I identify as a classical liberal, so my vote generally goes to the candidates who share as much of a classically liberal outlook that can reasonably be expected of someone running for office. At the moment, some (but not all) of those candidates happen to lean Republican.
But were I to vote straight Republican just because some candidates for office have an 'R' after their names, I would have fallen into the trap of supporting George Bush and Dick Cheney, who were no more "conservative" than Biden and Harris are "liberal" today. Many good latter-day Saints were lulled into supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan primarily because Bush and Cheney belonged to the party that was deemed to be conservative. These voters were mistaken in their belief that Republican politicians would not take America down the wrong path.
When our own Mitt Romney ran against Barack Obama I stayed out of that fray, warning that a Romney presidency would look very much like an Obama presidency. Many of my Mormon friends didn't want to hear it, but now that Romney is a sitting Senator in Utah, many residents of that state are discovering I was right and that Mitt Romney is a wolf in sheep's clothing. The fact that he looks like a lot of Mormons think a Mormon ought to look like does not make him either a good Mormon or a good conservative.
Today, many people who believe they are aligned with the "liberal" party are about to vote to do similar damage to the country because, among other things, the Democratic Party has become as much a party of warmongers as the Republican party was under Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. This is just one of the pitfalls that await those who allineate themselves with parties rather than principles.
If you happen to be an American who possesses a modicum of common sense and true compassion for your fellow man, you're probably a classical liberal yourself and don't even know it. Dave Rubin put together this short three minute animation describing classical liberalism:
Dave Rubin used to be a typical liberal Democrat until he had a guest on his show who pointed out the flawed assumptions that had controlled Rubin's thinking for years. You can watch the exact moment when Dave Rubin transformed from a modern leftist to a classical liberal right before your eyes in the 8 minute video below:
Video: Dave Rubin and Larry Elder
Rubin has since authored a bestseller in which he affirms that "the left is no longer liberal."
How To Get A Liberal Education
Originally, no one went to college in order to get a degree so they could graduate and get a decent job. That was never the purpose of getting an education. Those who attended university in medieval times were already quite wealthy -at least their fathers were.
Back in the day, merchants who had acquired great wealth knew their sons would never have to work, but they did not want them to languish in idleness and become ne'er-do-wells. So they sent their offspring off to the universities so that they could gain knowledge and hopefully help make the world a better place. The first university was a school of medicine in Italy in the 9th century, but over time other universities sprang up throughout Europe where students received a well-rounded education in grammar, logic, and rhetoric as well as science, music, and math. The language written and spoken at the universities was Latin, so it didn't matter if you came from France, Germany, Spain, or Holland, students and faculty were all able to learn and communicate through use of that one common language that united the intellectuals of all of Europe.
Many of those students came to be Europe's great inventors, doctors, lawyers, artists, and philosophers, and they in turn tended to use their family's wealth to fund more schools so that the common man could learn to read and reason. This led to what we now call the Age of Enlightenment, where even the lower classes were learning to read, make informed decisions, and eventually cast off tyranny.
Because those original privileged few were freed up by circumstances to become better educated, they were able to help other, less privileged persons to also better themselves. Those early universities did not have buildings or classrooms, but over time wealthy merchants funded these schools and the schools grew in size. In those universities one could receive what came to be known as a well-rounded, "liberal" education, so called because a student came out of that experience knowing a lot about a variety of subjects, but most importantly, he learned how to think and how to reason.
In 1909 the president of Harvard University said that anyone could gain a liberal education simply by spending fifteen minutes a day reading from a collection of books that would fit on a five-foot shelf. A publisher encouraged him to compile that collection and the result came to be known as The Harvard Classics.
Then in 1952, Encyclopedia Britannica did Harvard one better and came out with the 54 volume Great Books of the Western World. So if you wish to be truly educated, you can sit down a few minutes a day with the Harvard Classics or the Great Books and end up highly educated with a truly liberal education.
Or you can pay a fortune to attend Harvard, receive a parochial education that results in your learning very little, become indoctrinated with ideas that are hostile to liberty, and wind up an arrogant, clueless, moronic Lefty soured on life because nobody likes your disposition.
I'm writing this at a time when most politicians are exposing their appalling ignorance on some of the simplest topics. It's a sure bet that virtually no one in the political ruling class has ever picked up the Great Books and read Aeschylus or Descartes. Any one of them would greatly benefit at the very least from reading Descartes' Rules for the Direction of the Mind. I noticed that book is available on Kindle (along with Descartes' other major works), in one volume all for only 99 cents. That's one benefit of reading books by long-dead authors: you don't have to pay them royalties. buy the book; it's a fairly short read, and it is presented in small chunks with each rule spelled out at the top of the page, followed by a page or so of explication on each rule. Or you can just click here if you want to just take a look at the twelve rules standing alone.*
*Here's how ignorant I am: I must have been in my fifties before I ever heard Rene Descartes's name spoken aloud. Since I had only read his name in print, I pronounced it in my head as "DESS-Carteezs." Turns out it's actually pronounced "Day CART. I should have known. There are some letters of the alphabet the French just hate to say out loud. (I still don't know how to pronounce Aeschylus.)
The Sins At The Top Of The List
I have been struck in recent months by the warnings the Lord gave to the Nephites when he visited with them. Three times he spelled out what we could expect to see in the last days, and each time the sins at the top of the list were lies and deceptions.
We are seeing lies and deceptions this year like never before in our history. It's as if hell has opened up and coughed up a poison that has caused half the population to believe nothing but falsehoods. These deceptions are so numerous that it's almost impossible to catalog them all. This election season has been one continuous effort at keeping the populace off-guard and uninformed. But Jesus also tells us that there will be nothing covered that will not be uncovered, and that things that are spoken in darkness will eventually be heard in the light.
As I write this, the Democratic party is in trouble. Overwhelming evidence has come to light that proves their presidential candidate has long been involved in a criminal enterprise for the purpose of making himself rich. The evidence is overwhelming that Joe Biden consistently sold influence to foreign governments and entities while acting as the sitting Vice President. He has clearly used his family members as a front to subvert America's foreign policy in exchange for personal gain, and the evidence points to President Obama having been aware of it. Witnesses are coming forward who posses corroboration of Biden's serious perfidy. Joe Biden looks to be guilty of some very serious crimes. It is all now coming to light. This is all real and it is factual.
Yet Biden's allies in the media -the very people you depend upon to keep you properly informed- have circled the wagons in an attempt to convince you that there's nothing to see here, that it's all "a smear campaign started by the Russians." Don't you fall for it. If you never have before, this time you will have to look past the usual media gatekeepers to get to and find the truth of this. It's not hard to find. Things that have been done in darkness are coming to light, but if you fail to look toward the light you will not see them.
You say you don't like Donald Trump's personality? Fine, I get it. So don't vote for him. But not voting for Trump doesn't mean you should vote instead for one of the most transparently corrupt criminals to hold public office in your lifetime -certainly every bit as corrupt as George W. Bush and his criminal father, Herbert Walker Bush. So don't vote for president if you don't want to. Stay home, or submit a protest vote for a third party presidential candidate. The least you can do is show up to the polls so you can vote for good, honest people as your representatives in congress.
To be a classical liberal you must be honest with yourself. You must have personal integrity.
Be that person.
One Final Thought
I realize we'll probably be fighting a losing battle on this, but if you consider yourself either a conservative or a classical liberal, may I suggest you stop referring to today's intolerant leftists as "liberals"? We should not be assisting them in arrogating a label they have stolen from generations past. Call them what they are: the outraged left, the intolerant left, the bigoted left, or just plain lefties. Or come up with a descriptive label of your own. People who are patently dishonest are not entitled to steal the birthright of true liberalism and use it as their own.
See Also: Don't Call Me A Right Winger
Next Post: What a Great Time to be Alive!
The Sins at the Top of the List
Politics and Religion
Mormons Should Stop Identifying as Republicans
How Mormons Should Think About the Presidential Election
(This one, and the continuation of it linked at the bottom of that page, was written prior to the 2016 election so you can see that I have since changed my mind about certain things.)