Illiberal Statism

Posted: Nov 07, 2007 12:01 AM
Illiberal Statism

For years, conservatives have been claiming that conservatism is dying in America. That isn’t true. Actually, liberalism is dying in America. But, unfortunately, it is being replaced by another ideology far more dangerous than liberalism. After you consider the following issues, I hope you will join me in an act of self-censorship that will culminate in a lifetime commitment to refrain from calling Democrats “liberals.” Instead, I would urge the use of the more appropriate term “statist.”

Abortion. For years, many have mistakenly dubbed the pro-choice position as a “liberal” position. Clearly, it is not. It is certainly true that pro-choicers applaud a 1973 decision extending a new constitutional right to choose – oddly by saying that the constitution is living and breathing but the fetus is not. But that right only applies to half the population.

What Roe really said is that we no longer may enjoy the liberty of voting on the issue of abortion. Since this applies to both men and women, it can be viewed as producing a net loss of liberty. It is not even necessary to take into account the fact that the fetus will never have an opportunity to vote or to abort another fetus.

That this mass infringement of voting rights (read: disenfranchisement) is accomplished by counting only nine votes is significant. It is an example of statism, not liberalism.

Gun Control. During the 2000 Presidential campaign I was approached by a Bush supporter who calls herself a “socially liberal” Republican. She had just seen a debate between Bush and Gore and had concluded that a national photo ID – for all gun owners, not just concealed carriers - would be a good idea. She thought the state needed to keep better records on every gun purchase.

I responded to her support for greater state-level gun documentation by asking: “Should I fill out a form every time I remove a gun from one of my gun safes”?

Since this “liberal” did not respond with an emphatic “no,” I was forced to conclude that she is really not a liberal. She is a statist. And if you cannot answer simple questions about gun control, you may be a statist, too.

Health Care. This issue really requires no significant elaboration. A Canadian-style health care system in America would obviously grow the government and impede the ability of Americans to make important health care choices. Furthermore, it will impede the ability of Canadians to make important health care choices. Rather than suffer needlessly for months as they await an MRI or an appendectomy, many “choose” to come to the United States for better health care.

If we go the route of Canadian health care, where will countless suffering Canadians go? Mexico?

If you don’t care then you aren’t a liberal. You are a statist.

Religious Association/Expression. There are public universities in America that actually charge $500, $600, and even $700 per semester to students for activity fees ostensibly collected in order to fund First Amendment activities. Of course, many poor and minority students are unable to go to college because they cannot afford to pay these fees.

Students often form groups so they can be eligible to get back some of the money the government took from them in the form of these activity fees. When they do, the government-employed college administrators often tell them they must modify their groups. For example, they may be told that the formation of a group that “believes in God” is intolerant, exclusive, and discriminatory. They may also be told that a group comprised only of Christians would be wrong – that instead it should be open to Muslims (yes, even those who might think Christians should be killed).

Many think these policies are “liberal.” But if you believe the government can take your money forcibly - and then ask you to relinquish your beliefs and change your associations to get it back – you are not a liberal. You are a statist.

School Vouchers. It makes sense to ask people to pay for government services they intend to use. But why do “liberals” ask (force) people to pay for government services they do not intend to use? The “liberal’s” selective application of the “right to choose” is baffling.

But what is really baffling is the “liberal” approach to Separation of Church and State. In recent years, “liberals” have become increasingly interested in preventing individuals from uttering individual prayers on school grounds, especially during official school ceremonies.

The “excessive entanglement” that these “liberals” complain about is often exacerbated by their continued support of a failed public education system. These individual expressions of religious belief among students are only problematic in our public schools.

For years, “liberals” have been pretending that there is a Separation of Church and State clause in the First Amendment. Why not pretend there is a Separation of School and State clause? By dismantling the public education system, we could allow people to engage in personal religious expression at schools without any Establishment Clause concerns. And we could drastically reduce the size of government overnight.

If you disagree with me, you are not a liberal. You are a statist.

Speech Codes. Once, (actually, more than once) I was overheard by a Dean as I was complaining about a university speech code banning all “offensive” speech. The Dean said the code was “not that bad” because it only sought to ban certain types of offensive speech. I thought that made it worse.

If you are one of those who thinks speech codes are “not that bad” you are truly misguided. Speech codes seek to prevent free speech (an actual constitutional right) under the guise of preventing offense (not an actual constitutional right) and under the authority of the state.

If you support speech codes, you are a statist. If you are like me and you oppose them, maybe you are a liberal. And maybe you need to join me in a commitment to use the term “liberal” in a more conservative manner.