Dear Tiffany Willis,
You argue in your recent article 10 Facts That Prove America Is Becoming More Liberal that Americans are becoming more “liberal” because more are supporting issues such as same-sex marriage, drug legalization, and immigration reform.
My first question for you, then, would be how do you define “liberal”? Do you define it by the classic definition or the modern definition? Are you a “classic liberal” or a “progressive liberal”?
I ask this because liberalism, as a philosophy, has changed over time. When it first originated, “liberalism” was about individual rights, limited government, and laissez-faire capitalism. In this sense, the Founding Fathers and other enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill were “liberal”—that is, they were “classic liberals.”
However, as times changed, so did liberalism. With the introduction of Marxism, “liberalism” became less focused on the rights of the individual and more on the welfare of the collective. Thus liberalism transformed into what we now know as “progressive liberalism,” or "progressivism."
To illustrate this drastic shift, one need only read The Second Treatise of Government by the father of liberalism himself John Locke. If Locke were alive today preaching what he wrote in his treatise—the foundation of liberalism itself, “progressive liberals” such as Michael Moore would decry him as a Ron Paul-loving far-right reactionary.
This is the problem with defining “liberal” by terms such as the political “left” and “right,” which is what you seem to do in your article. You seem to conflate “liberal” with left-wing.” This isn’t accurate. Yes, left-wingers support same-sex marriage, drug legalization, and immigration reform, but so do right-wing "libertarians" like myself. (As for global warming, while most right-wing libertarians like myself do not believe in it, many do, though they disagree that environmentalist solutions such as Cap and Trade are the proper solution.)
In other words, Americans may becoming more “liberal” in the "classic" sense of the term, but not so much the "progressive" sense, as you seem to imply; if anything, it would be more accurate to say that Americans are becoming more “libertarian” than "liberal."
Which leads me to my question for you: You claim that more Americans like yourself are beginning to believe in, as you put it, “mind your own business” and “live and let live.” I know that, as a libertarian, I believe that. My question is: do you believe that?
Before you answer that question, please consider the following questions:
1. Do you believe that individuals have a right to defend themselves? If so, do they have a right to defend themselves with whatever arms they see fit, or should the state restrict what arms they can or cannot bear? Do you believe the state should prevent me from owning an automatic assault rifle? (As you replied to one comment: if you don’t want an AK-47, then don’t buy one. But don’t prevent me from buying one.)
2. Do you believe women have a right to their own body? If so, do they have a right to pose nude in front of a camera or to elicit sex for money? Or should such “objectifying” activities be prohibited by the state? Does “female bodily autonomy” only apply to abortion and birth control? (On that subject, should taxpayers be forced to pay for abortions or birth control, even if they morally or religiously object to them? Should business owners be forced to fund them for their employees, even if they morally or religiously object to them?)
3. Do you believe that individuals have a right to put whatever substance they want into their own bodies? Or should politicians like Michelle Obama or Michael Bloomberg be allowed to limit what junk food we can consume? Again, does “bodily autonomy” only apply to drugs, or does it equally apply to junk food, raw milk, and alternative medicine? Why should I have a right to smoke pot but not to consume raw milk or more than 16-oz. of soda pop? Moreover, do I have a right not to wear a seatbelt or not to wear a helmet? Or should the state force me to wear both? Should it force me to be vaccinated? Should it force me to drink flourinated water?
4. Do you believe that individuals have a right to love, marry, and have sex with whomever they love? If so, do they have a right to do so with as many people as they love? Does the “right to marry” equally apply to polygamy, or does it only apply to gay marriage? (Also, do you believe the state should prevent people from loving or having sex with each other through “age of consent” laws? I do not support pedophilia, but if two teenagers under the legal age of consent have sex, should they be prosecuted as sex offenders?)
5. Do you believe that individuals have a right to the fruits of their own labor? Or do you believe that the state is entitled to a share of it? While I do believe some level of taxation is necessary, I feel the way that taxpayer money is currently collected and spent is grossly immoral. Case in point, income tax. While we’re on the subject, if we are all to be treated equally, should we also be taxed equally, or should some be taxed more than others? Another case: the estate tax. Am I entitled to my inheritance, or is the state entitled to a share of my deceased relative’s wealth?
6. Do you believe individuals have a right to their own private property? Or should the state be allowed to dictate what they can or cannot do with it? Should they be told what they can or cannot build? What color they can paint their house? How tall they can allow their grass to grow? If an endangered species is alleged to live on their property, should they be evicted from it, even if they’re disabled? Also, should the state be able to seize private property through “eminent domain”? Should they be able to seize private property and sell it to prospective corporations if their proposed boondoggles would serve “the public interest”?
7. Do you believe that business owners have a right to employee whomever they want? Or should the state force them to only hire American citizens? Should they be prevented from hiring people overseas or from hiring people who are not American citizens? (Moreover, as a consumer, do corporations and the state have the right to dictate what I can buy from other countries?)
8. Do you believe that business owners have a right to offer wages they consider fair? Or should they be forced by the state to pay their employees a minimum wage? If so, what should be the minimum? $10/hr.? $20? $50? $100? If they refuse to pay their employees more than $100/hr., are they being greedy and selfish? If a teenager is willing to work for less than minimum wage, should he be hired, or should he be prevented through minimum wage and child labor laws? Would that be fair?
9. Do you believe that workers have a right to unionize? Do they have a right to join a union? Inversely, do they have a right NOT to join a union? Or should the state require them to join one in order to have a job? (Moreover, should public unions be treated the same as private unions, despite the obvious differences between the two?)
10. Do you believe that people have a right to association? Do they have a right to associate or not associate with others? If so, do business owners have a right to deny service or employment to people they do not wish to associate with? Or should the state force them to associate with these people? For instance, should the Boy Scouts be forced to accept gay, transgender, or atheist members? Should Chik-Fil-A be forced to accept gay marriage? Moreover, should business owners be forced to meet racial and gender quotas? For every white male employee, should they be forced to hire a black employee and a female employee (or would a black female employee suffice)?
11. Do you believe parents have a right to send their children to the school that best meets their educational needs? Should they be allowed to send their children to a public school outside of their school district? Should they be allowed to opt out of the public school system and send them to private school or charter or parochial or magnet? Should they be allowed to home school or even “un-school” them? Should they be allowed to send them to a school that doesn't teach evolution? And if they’re allowed to opt-out of the public school system, should they receive tax credits? After all, no one should be forced to pay for something they do not use. Or do you believe otherwise? (Also, do you believe local and state school systems should control their own educational standards and curriculum, or should that be controlled by the federal government?)
12. Do you believe that individuals have a right to fund their own pension plans? Or should they rely solely on government programs such as Medicare and Social Security? If I find a pension plan that offers better benefits than either Medicare or SS, should I be allowed to opt out? Again, if I don’t use it, I should not fund it. Or again, do you believe otherwise?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then I think it's safe to say that you do believe that people should “mind their own business” and “live and let live”; otherwise, that doesn’t seem to be the case for you.