When you see the word “liberalism,” what comes to mind?
Is it George Washington crossing the Delaware, or is it President Barack Obama taking the stage at the Democratic National Convention?
In this election year, Americans are bombarded with political rhetoric, philosophy and statistics. At the heart of America’s political issues is the concept of American liberalism.
Liberalism in America has shaped the political landscape in our country today. It has transformed the government’s role in social issues, economic issues and even foreign affairs.
It is killing America. You read that right — liberalism is slowly killing America.
Let me explain.
First of all, let me clarify that classical liberal thought from the teachings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and John Stuart Mill is much different than the modern American liberalism we see today. In fact, it is just about the polar opposite.
The liberalism in America today is far from the economic freedom and limited government that classical liberals advocated in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The liberalism that is killing America is the liberalism that has embraced the government’s role in caring for the individual.
Enter former President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After the economic crash of 1929, Americans were questioning the free market’s stability and validity in the relatively new century.
Roosevelt, who is a lot like Obama, campaigned in opposition to former President Herbert Hoover, who many blamed for the 1929 market crash. Sound familiar?
After a virtually unanimous election, Roosevelt began the historical shift that would continue to shape the government’s role in the individual’s life, even until today.
Although it is true that the U.S. government had been gradually more involved in different roles during the 1920s, there is no doubt that FDR and his policies hit the fast-forward button, putting America on the fast track towards a significantly bigger government in only one decade.
Continued in large part by Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” of the 1960s, Roosevelt’s “New Deal” not only attempted to create jobs for the individual, but also grew the size of the federal government to never-before-seen heights.
Now jump forward with me to the 21st century.
We have already seen, in four short years, what Obama — a president who has embraced this philosophy — has accomplished (or destroyed, depending on how you look at it) within our economy.
Today’s liberalism, the belief that government is responsible for the individual, has done many disservices to America during its relatively short historical tenure. It has resulted in massive deficit spending that, most recently, has put America in debt $16 trillion.
It has killed economic growth time and time again.
Liberalism has expanded the federal government’s role in social issues with the creation of programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and food stamps.
Administrations operating under the tenets of liberalism have proven to be sluggish, unproductive and hypocritical.
But worst of all, it has changed the heart and minds of Americans and fooled them into believing a filthy political lie, that more government is a good thing and that a big federal government can play a monumental role in making society better.
Is this what our constitutional framers had in mind?
Reach this columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the columnist at @sean_mccauley