Emmett Tyrrell
WASHINGTON -- One of the causes that has brought the great and worthy movement of Liberalism to its present state of decrepitude has been remarked upon in this column many times before: Liberalism always goes too far. Even in the case of a noble impulse, it goes too far. Public events in recent days, in that magnificent monument to liberalism called San Francisco, show us once again the example of Liberalism over the edge.

But to review my thesis -- Liberalism goes too far. It started with the workingman trying to organize a union in the 1930s. It ended with the unions barring everyone save a particular type of man from the union shop. In the 1950s, about a decade before the liberal crack-up got going, it barred women from the union; and, of course, it barred Blacks and Latinos. Moreover, no one who was non-union could still work in the union shop. Liberalism always goes too far.

Bring Liberalism up into modern times. It talked of peace in Vietnam and negotiating an end to the war in Vietnam. But not long after negotiations got started, Liberalism was against all use of force in the world, notwithstanding how threatening the USSR (then our enemy) might be. In time, Liberalism was calling for disarmament and turning the Pentagon into a peace museum or perhaps a place for the homeless.

Take poverty. Liberalism favored all manner of methods to alleviate the plight of the poor. Presidential candidate George McGovern called for a government stipend for everyone (and practical expropriation of us all upon our death). More reasonably, Liberalism favored the perfectly sensible "safety net" for the least of our brothers and sisters. Then, all of a sudden, it was calling for redistribution of the wealth. President Franklin Roosevelt, of blessed memory, favored the Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Progress Administration and Public Works Administration, all requiring the disadvantaged to work for their government check. By the 1970s, work was not a requirement for public largess, and many of the poor lived the life of a comfortable retiree from the local bank. They developed suntans and some a tolerably good golf game. The more farsighted took their welfare checks and dabbled in the stock market.

One sees this proclivity for taking a good cause too far all the time. Do the Liberals call for tolerance of homosexuality? In only a matter of time, they are calling for gay marriage -- not civil union, marriage! They are for tolerance for nudity at the beach, then nudity in public restaurants, even at fashion shows, even at churches and synagogues.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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