Today's liberalism is the fascist socialism that dares not speak its name, and so ascribes to itself the moniker "moderation." Scratch a moderate and in most cases you'll find a liberal. Thus the line emanating from, for instance, such fens of leftism as The New York Times and NPR: Nobody here but us moderates.
Liberal ideology is a distorting lens through which its adherents view the culture, the nation, the world. Today it is an oozy brew of odd insistences from greenies, trial lawyers, vain pols, Obamian polarizers, public unionists, mainline clergy, Hollywoodists, guilt-trippers, academics, and Ivy-type pressies. Too often it shamelessly reckons the obscene as normal, defines military weakness as strength, views the American experiment as racism rampant, and postulates free-markets as hammering -- always -- the poor.
It sees bigger government as generally wiser and better, preaches unaffordable pensions for everybody, resists tax simplification and tax cuts, stands resolute against real debt reduction and spending cuts, disdains entitlement reform, includes "sustainability" and "corporate responsibility" as major items on every good leftist's list, burns hot with hatred of a square-peg Palin feminism not fitting round-hole leftist prescription, and deems teapartiers impudent ignoramuses and fatuous rubes. The Hoover Institution's Shelby Steele writes that liberals regard "bad faith in America as virtue itself, and bad faith in the classic American identity of constitutional freedom and capitalism as the way to a better America."
In, 1949 Lionel Trilling, an icon of the left, described liberalism as "not only the (nation's) dominant but sole intellectual tradition." That presumes to encompass (a) the penmen of the New World's first political document -- the Mayflower Compact, which begins, ever so leftishly, "In the name of God. Amen"; (b) William Bradford's Plymouth Plantation; and (c) both the federalists and anti-federalists of the Founding era. On the contrary, George Washington rode at the head of an emphatically conservative revolution.
Today's liberal fashion routinely consists in a rhetoric of pity and guilt -- and so retains a continuing advantage in the presentation of its goals. Yet George Orwell likely had a leftist statism in mind when writing, in "Politics and the English Language," that "political language...is designed to make lies sound truthful...and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
Principal aims throughout the 30 years of this column have been to lean into that wind -- to pick through liberalism's uncountable double standards, to ruffle its meticulously preened feathers, to trip the strutting ironies of its idiot rationales. And along the way to assert the virtue of prudent alternatives grounded in the abiding values of a nation still experimenting with the liberty that is this world's ultimate cause.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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