Monday, January 25, 2010

Liberals? Conservatives?

Howard Dean, in commenting on the Massachusetts election, claimed the underlying reason for Brown's victory is Obama not being liberal enough. But, is liberalism the root issue?

In the days when monarchical rule was the norm, monarchic governments were strongly centralized and paternalistic to varying degrees. And, it was liberal political thought that ran counter to monarchy; conservative thought was supportive. When you think about it, Progressivism exhibits many of the same characteristics: Strong central government with a paternalistic, socialist bent.

So, it seems to me, the root issue underlying the Massachusetts election was not Obama's per se liberalism because he is not a liberal; he is a Progressive. Rather, by analogy, liberal politics would run counter to what a Progressive stands for.

So, Dean may be right about O's liberalism but not in the way he thinks.

Postscript: Historians that concern themselves with politics consider Progressivism to be a branch of historic liberal political thought. The analogy with historic monarchies seems compelling nevertheless.


Ron Russell said...

I agree, Obama for sure is a progressive. However labels can get very confusing. A southern liberal could very well be considered a New England moderate. One thing for sure Zero is for big government and the nation is generally not. He is out-of-step, but does know it or will not admit it.

hbl said...

I am beginning to think the only true Democrats are of a Jeffersonian stripe. The progressives certainly don't belong there philosophically speaking. Nor, in the Republican party, Teddy Roosevelt notwithstanding.