On Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2009, congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) appeared opposite Ralph Nader on "The Ed Schultz Show." When Nader questioned Frank's far-left bona fides, Frank quickly responded, "we are trying on every front to increase the role of government."
This is what today's liberal movement has become. Stripped to its essentials, modern liberalism is now a nakedly ambitious power grab by corrupt officials, their union allies and faux-victimized purloiners of the taxpayer till. Its underlying premises -- the ultimate goodness of government, the ultimate evil of the American population -- are plainly inconsistent with the foundations of constitutional philosophy.
It was not always thus. Over the weekend, I had a chance to re-read one of my favorite authors, John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was considered for decades the leading authorial spokesman for the blue collar left. "The Grapes of Wrath," his most famous work, is undoubtedly a liberal tract -- it condemns the harshness of unbridled capitalism and asks (literally) for the milk of human kindness.
Whereas today's liberal spokespeople have been infected by a virulent anti-Americanism that sees all businessmen as profiteers and all public workers as saints, Steinbeck was a patriot. He worried about the lack of kindness he saw in his fellow men, particularly the willingness to cut corners to make a buck -- but at the same time, he saw the virtue of freedom.
In 1960, Steinbeck wrote a piece in Newsday magazine in which he explained his view of morality. "[It's] very clear that peoples are strong when they are moral in the sense that the good of the group or the nation takes precedence over the selfish good of the individual. And we know from many examples of the past that when this is reversed and the individual raids the public good for his own purposes, the laws of decay have set in." In short, a nation comprised of a group of individuals governed by a common morality is stronger than an agglomeration of atomistic individuals acting solely for their own benefit.