The Widdershins

Archive for July 2nd, 2012

Two liberals arguing about what liberalism is

Good morning Widdershins!

So I was cruising around the internets the other night (this was after the SCOTUS decision on the Affordable Care Act) and while that was not my express purpose in looking at sites, I did see that of course there were a lot of discussions happening.

At one blog I noticed that some of the commenters were discussing the fact that this, the ACA, just could not be the right way to proceed, how awful it was (it ain’t great) and really does need to be done away with.  The comments were much along the lines of how this was being forced upon us, how it would increase the cost of health insurance by bringing uninsured folks into the exchanges and how covering people with pre-existing conditions would also drive up the costs.  I too am not thrilled with what we got.  It was mentioned how Obama had the big insurers and big pharma into the Oval Office before any legislation even hit the House floor and how single-payer and Medicare for All were not even given a chance to be brought to the table; which is true.  I definitely would have preferred to see a single-payer or Medicare for All become the health care program we got.  That being said, there are some good things that came out of the ACA:  preventive screenings annually with no out of pocket expense, a fix for the “donut hole” in Medicare part D and some others things.   However, there was one comment made that gave me pause to think.  Here’s the comment:

What is fascinating about these discussions is hearing from folks who would have sworn they were Liberals, as they understood Liberalism.. I took Liberalism to mean singing one’s own song, and dancing to the music in our heads, forging a path, without gov’t interference and making a life as big as one’s dreams. Loving, acceptance of others and never judging were important, along with putting God and country first..I was such a Girl Scout. New Liberalism is nothing like that, it has become a giant birthday party, where the gov’t is always the host, and everybody goes home with a cheap prize. It is an ongoing social engineering project, costs a fortune, lives and dies by polls, and sees no individuals, only ‘blocs’. Most of us dislike so called friends who are always trying to ‘fix’ us, especially when we don’t think we need fixing…It reminds me of being a little kid and told to take my medicine, especially cod liver oil, ugh, because it was ‘good for me.’ “Nnnn” has commented on his debate with himself over Liberalism and being a Democrat, boy oh boy, do I understand that.

Can one still be a Liberal and not want to pay for yet another gov’t program ? Or partake in another gov’t birthday party ? Are we now at the ‘enough is enough’ point? Is it still okay to be a Liberal and yet be fed up ?

Oohkay.  My first thought was of the tea-partyer holding up his sign which read:  “No govt. healthcare but leave my Medicare alone!”  I never had a thought of the idea of being a liberal or liberalism as being a vocal exercise and never thought of it as going on a path without government “interference”.   Now I thought of things like dancing to the music in your head and the singing your own music as being part of the hippie movement…especially if the LSD or Mescaline or other hallucinogenic drug of your choice was really, really, good.  No, I had different ideas of what liberalism was or what it involved, such as using the strength of the government for the betterment of people; whether it was by creating Social Security to make sure the oldsters had some income for living after their working years were past, to creating agencies like MSHA to insure the safety of miners when they go below ground to work, to an agency like USDA’s FFIS for food safety and inspections (although they’ve fallen down on that) to, of course Medicare which helps to provide medical coverage for the elderly. So I decided to go do a little checking for some definitions of liberals or liberalism.  Here’s one I found:  Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis) is a political ideology or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality.[2] Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights and the free exercise of religion.

Now I also found this which might go along with the dancing and singing idea:  From the 17th century until the 19th century, liberals—from Adam Smith to John Stuart Mill—conceptualized liberty as the absence of interference from government and from other individuals, claiming that all people should have the freedom to develop their own unique abilities and capacities without being sabotaged by others.

But then again I found this:

In North America, unlike in Europe, the word liberalism almost exclusively refers to social liberalism in contemporary politics. The dominant Canadian and American parties, the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party, are frequently identified as being modern liberal or center-left organizations in the academic literature.


In the United States, modern liberalism traces its history to the popular presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who initiated the New Deal in response to the Great Depression and won an unprecedented four elections. The New Deal coalition established by Franklin Roosevelt left a decisive legacy and influenced many future American presidents, including John F. Kennedy, a self-described liberal who defined a liberal as “someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions…someone who cares about the welfare of the people”.

AHA!!  That’s the ticket!  And a little bit further checking and digging around came up with this:  Social liberalism. Aha again so this is maybe what we are:

Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it believes the legitimate role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding civil rights. Social liberalism supports capitalism but stresses the need of social capital as a precondition to both capitalism and liberal democracy and rejects unchecked laissez-faire economics for failing to recognize the necessity of social capital. Social liberalism views liberal democracy as being at its best when its individualism in society and in capitalism is moderated by public spirit and a readiness to associate.  Social liberal policies have been widely adopted in much of the capitalist world, particularly following World War II. Social liberal ideas and parties tend to be considered centrist or center-left.

Oh hell yeah!  That’s all the things we care about:

  • cares about unemployment, i.e. creating opportunities for people to work  or protecting them when they lose a job
  • cares about health care
  • cares about education
  • expands civil rights to groups
  • supports capitalism but stresses social capital
  • rejects unchecked laissez-faire economics
  • being at its best when its individualism in society and in capitalism is moderated by public spirit and a readiness to associate

Ding, ding ding!!! Oh yes that is sooo what we liberals are supposed to be about.

Perhaps the comments from the blog I cited above were true if you went back to classic liberalism of the 18th century or so.  However, the U.S. has adopted social liberalism since at least F.D.R. and thank goodness we did.  I am more than certain when Social Security was created there were those folks who griped, complained and bitched about having their money taken out of their paychecks and probably the same when Medicare was created.  Of course the ultimate griper was Ayn Rand and the hypocrisy involved with her was that when she took ill and was dying she herself did take advantage of Medicare and it was at the urging of her agent or friends who told her that her illness would bankrupt her if she didn’t.  Ding ding ding!!

Now I am all too aware of the fact that a lot of people have reacted negatively against the ACA simply because it was done under Obama’s watch, and yes I think we could have gotten better.  I also know this forces someone to pay for something, just like Social Security and Medicare taxes make you pay by withholdings  to provide benefits to those 65 or older.  However, remember that Hillary Clinton’s plan also included a mandate.  Also, remember that this plan is supposedly built around the plan that Mitt Romney created in Massachusetts.  Of course now Willard says it’s terrible and that if he’s elected it is the first thing he will do away with.  Well, so be it if he does.  The same goes for the House.  They are supposedly ready to bring up a bill or vote to do away with the ACA but of course only after they get back from their two week 4th of July vacay.  🙄

Another thing I have to admit here is that I am utilizing a part of the ACA for myself.  I had been without health insurance for over five years and as my doctor told me, if  I ended up getting my chest cracked for a CABG or something I wouldn’t have any choice other than to file for bankruptcy because there’s no way I could afford the costs by private pay.  But I did some checking and found this.  It’s not cheap but it is better than nothing.

To wrap this up I’ve created a poll with a question about liberals/liberalism.  Feel free to take the poll and let’s see how it goes.  Oh and you only get to vote once.

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