Liberalism May be Dead but Librulism is Not

November 11th, 2010

By Dan Miller

Classical liberalism needs resuscitation.

Following the recent elections, Roger L. Simon recently opined that Liberalism is Dead. He referred, of course, to modern liberalism rather than to classical liberalism. He is more confident than I am about the demise; the death of modern liberalism may be approaching and I hope it will come. However senile and ineffective it may appear or we may wish it to be, it and its proponents remain forces about which to be concerned. Unfortunately, modern liberalism a.k.a. Librulism may even now be more alive than classical liberalism.

Words have transitory meanings. The word “gentleman” once meant a man privy to the person of the king. It eventually came to mean a person of sufficient inherited wealth to live well without “hard earned” money; mere tradespeople were not “gentlemen,” no matter how sophisticated and polite they might have been. The word “gentlemen” now adorns the entrance to the restroom (another interesting word, that; I have never seen one with furniture really appropriate for a rest) used by males. Over time, “liberal” has morphed in similar fashion:

Thomas Jefferson considered himself a liberal but would, most likely, find little in common with those who appropriate the term today. Lock Mr. Jefferson (of Virginia) in a room with any one of the many so called liberals of today, and they would possibly come to blows, the event being at least forestalled because Mr. Jefferson was a “gentleman” in the eighteenth century sense of the word. Query, how many people who nowadays call themselves liberals believe that their views on life, the universe and everything reflect those of Mr. Jefferson. After all, he was a “liberal,” and so are they. …

I elect to use the word “liberal” to connote an open but not empty mind, a tendency to encourage the expression of opposing views, to listen attentively to them, and to desire to become familiar with them regardless of whether they are agreeable. It suggests a rational rather than a dogmatic approach to reality. A “liberal” in this sense can also be conservative; a conservative can, by the same token, be a “liberal;” there is no contradiction in terms.

Librul is the antithesis of liberal yet we persistently confuse the two. John Morton Blum, a very popular teacher of American history, was a liberal and a Democrat (he campaigned for George McGovern in 1972) but not a Librul. He is among those who made the difference live. His class was one of the largest and therefore had to be held in the law school auditorium. He spoke and wrote with enthusiasm about FDR and also about The Republican Roosevelt, Theodore. Mr. Blum was very happy to reminiscence extemporaneously the day after Eleanor Roosevelt died in November of 1962 about his conversations with her at Hyde Park concerning FDR; he had spent much time there going over President Roosevelt’s papers and talking with her as he wrote a book (The Morgenthau Diaries) about the FDR years; we were captivated. Mr. Blum was no less pleased to introduce Senator Barry Goldwater, considered a leader of the conservative Republicans, to the class during the lead up to the presidential nominating campaign preceding the 1964 presidential elections; the senator got lots of applause and no boos as he and Mr. Blum entered the auditorium.

Mr. Blum made no attempt to indoctrinate, he merely told us about history factually, knowledgeably and as impartially but interestingly as anyone could have. I understand that the Librul disease has now infected many institutions of higher learning and find that extremely unfortunate; thus is the disease spread. I do not think that was generally the case nearly half a century ago.

Libruls do and say strange things which liberals generally do not. Libruls are fond of the word “racist” and conflate it with opposition to Librul positions. In Librulspeak, it is “racist” not to consider race in hiring and promoting employees and for other purposes; some but not all consideration of race is called “affirmative action” and “affirmative” presumably connotes something good. Republicans, unlike Democrats, are racist. So are those fool conservative T.E.A. groups which supported LTC Allen West who, due to a clear victory in a heavily White district, will in January become the first Black Republican congressman from Florida since Reconstruction; they just gotta be racist. So must Republican Hispanics Marco Rubio and David Rivera in Florida as well as Susana Martinez in New Mexico and Brian Sandoval in Nevada; ditto their supporters. There is no depth of depravity to which those Uncle Tom racists and their enablers will not descend.

Through some odd mutation, “race” has come to encompass both sex and ethnicity, although neither has any necessary connection to race. “Hispanic” has come to suggest a race, even though it legitimately refers to ethnic ancestry or surname. Mr. Gonzalez is Hispanic, even though he may be a Caucasian. I seem to recall reading many years ago that a Mr. Jones had secured a judicial name change to Mr. Gonzalez so that he could qualify for governmental Hispanic preferences. The federal Office of Personnel Management is holding its Third Annual Federal Hispanic Career Advancement Summit on November 29 and 30 of this year. I suppose that Sally Ortega, née Jones, would be among those whose careers are to be advanced.

Much of Europe is in the midst of a Librul crisis; Greece, France, anyone? To a lesser but still growing and festering extent so is the United States; yet President Obama apparently wants to emulate them; we must become more Librul and thwart the Party of No.

I suggest that the crisis has been propelled in no small way by the politically correct misuse of language. Political correctness is a symbiotic encrustation on Librulism; I don’t know which is a cause and which is an effect, but neither could probably exist without the other. Global Warming Climate Change Species Endangerment? It’s getting worse by the minute and it’s all our fault. Praise Gaia, it is a crisis an opportunity not to be wasted; deniers are wicked. Charity? What’s that; we have entitlements. Poverty? Even some folks living in the United States who own a couple of cars, a house, a couple of television sets and spend lots of their time getting fat at McDonald’s live in poverty; they learn that they need and therefore demand our help because they are entitled to it; it ain’t charity which would make them lose any vestiges of self respect. Besides, slaves the poor can be made continuously dependent on the system — for many generations; that is good, rich is bad. Government spending? That’s cool; it’s just ObamaMoney government money. Inflation? That’s just what happens to tires and balloons. Illegal Aliens Undocumented immigrants? What’s illegal about not having some idiotic scrap of paper? Racism? That’s something white folks do; just ask the Reverend Messrs Jackson and Sharpton, and don’t forget the Honorable Mr. Rangel. Sexism? That’s something people who don’t disparage politically active females principally because they are attractive do. Helen Thomas, the recent runner up in a Ms. Congeniality contest (meh), would probably be a great president. Hate crimes? Don’t yap about what the term means. Voter disenfranchisement? The Department of Justice is doing a bang up job. The Constitution? Don’t worry about it; it’s just a silly old document reciting irrelevant and out of date notions held long ago by some dead white males. Dead is good.

It is politically incorrect to refer to an “Afro American” — presumably even one living in Africa who has never been to any part of the American continent — as Colored (the NAACP still uses that quaint adjective), as a Negro or probably even as Black (the Congressional Black Caucus does and only admits Afro Americans, but that’s not racist; a Congressional Caucasian Caucus would obviously be). Should I refer to a Caucasian citizen of South Africa as a “Dutch, English (or whatever) African?” Islamic terrorist? That shows an abysmal ignorance of the Religion of Peace. Conservative Christians? Stupid people who don’t know any better than to cling to their guns and bibles. Jews in Israel — they should properly be referred to as Hebrew Palestinians. Unions = good; corporations = bad. Community organizers? They become miraculously good Presidents and receive anticipatory Nobel Peace Prizes. Attractive female governors? Don’t be silly; elections are not beauty contests and we need experienced people.

Once upon a time, joyful people were referred to as “gay.” Somehow, the meaning of “gay” has changed and no longer has much to do with a state of current happiness. A conservative liberal (I do at least try), I am not gay about the way the United States had been heading at least until recently. Negroes, poor people, women, foreigners living in the United States legally, the involuntarily unemployed and underemployed and others have been getting the shaft to a far greater extent under the rule of Libruls than they would with liberals. On November 2nd the country made some progress away from Librulism toward liberalism. Such progress is good, but it needs to continue and not be wiped away by apathy now that the elections have been held. One thing to do would be to refrain from political correctism. Saying No to it would be a good start to restoring a bit of pride in our country.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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10 Responses to “Liberalism May be Dead but Librulism is Not”

  1. Dan Miller |

    Two writers at the Washington Post have taken the position that if President Obama wants to be remembered as a great President he must limit himself to one term. The writers are Patrick H. Caddell, who was a pollster and senior adviser to President Carter and Douglas E. Schoen, a pollster who worked for President Clinton. According to the article,

    this is a critical moment for the country. From the faltering economy to the burdensome deficit to our foreign policy struggles, America is suffering a widespread sense of crisis and anxiety about the future. Under these circumstances, Obama has the opportunity to seize the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again, and to galvanize the public for the hard decisions that must be made. The only way he can do so, though, is by putting national interests ahead of personal or political ones.

    To that end, we believe Obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012.

    If the president goes down the reelection road, we are guaranteed two years of political gridlock, at a time when we can ill afford it. But by explicitly saying he will be a one-term president, Obama can deliver on his central campaign promise of 2008, draining the poison from our culture of polarization and ending the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose.

    We do not come to this conclusion lightly. But it is clear, we believe, that the president has largely lost the consent of the governed. The midterm elections were effectively a referendum on the Obama presidency. And even if it was not an endorsement of a Republican vision for America, the drubbing the Democrats took was certainly a vote of no confidence in Obama and his party. The president has almost no credibility left with Republicans and little with independents.

    I can’t offhand recall any previous instance when two former workers for a former Democratic Party President have taken such a public stance in a normally Democratic Party supporting major newspaper. I doubt that President Obama will take their advice and suspect that if it should be brought to his attention he will be outraged. His outrage may extend to former President Clinton, whose wife would probably like to replace him, and former President Carter who has of late been less than fully supportive – despite the glorious prospect of seizing “the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again,” which would certainly feed his hubris.

    On another front, CBS has an interesting story on potty training an infant. The article provides no answers but says,

    As you can see, I’m terribly perplexed by this whole concept. No judgment, of course, but I’d love to hear from any parent who has successfully potty trained an infant. Or any parent who feels as perplexed about this as I am.

    Moreover, Dr. Phil has taken a stand foursquare (more or less) against bullying.

  2. Tom Carter |

    Caddell and Schoen have been off the reservation for a while now, attracting Democratic ire over their DINO behavior. Still, you’re right that this is significant. The Democrats got beat up because of Obama’s tone-deaf political behavior, aided by Pelosi. Worse, he still doesn’t seem to get it — apparently, he thinks it was just a communications problem. And who knows, he may not run again, preferring to go back to the kinds of jobs where he doesn’t have to actually perform anything difficult. Maybe be the head of the UN or something, with his silly Nobel hanging on the wall.

    I like the idea of being a conservative liberal. Makes perfect sense, although I doubt that many hardliners of either persuasion are flexible enough to grasp it. Maybe that warps around into something like a Scoop Jackson Democrat, although I wouldn’t want to go through the ideological reassignment surgery that turned them into neocons.

    As for your PC commentary, well, I’ll just give it a Bravo! and then keep my mouth shut. You can take the incoming rocks.

  3. Michael |

    Some of the things the article says make absolutely no sense.

    Take this paragraph:

    The best way for him to address both our national challenges and the serious threats to his credibility and stature is to make clear that, for the next two years, he will focus exclusively on the problems we face as Americans, rather than the politics of the moment – or of the 2012 campaign.”

    It treats the problem totally unrelated to the politics.

  4. Tom Carter |

    Michael, the WP article makes sense, but it does try to take politics out of the equation, in terms of Obama’s personal attitude and ambitions. Obama, and some of his supporters, don’t seem to understand what’s happened to him. Jimmy Carter was the same way — even today he doesn’t understand why the people turned against him.

    I seriously doubt that he’ll decline to run in 2012, and if he does he’ll most likely win, especially if the Republicans don’t run a serious candidate. Maybe he thinks he can soar on principles once he’s gotten that second term. Problems are, not many people agree with the principles, and we’ll have six years instead of two of partisan battling with little progress on the big problems.

    Dan, I’m still chewing on the connection between potty training and bullying and librulism. I have some thoughts, but they’re probably best left unsaid. Can you elucidate?

  5. Dan Miller |

    Tom, I have some thoughts, but they’re probably best left unsaid. Me too; that’s why I left them unsaid.

    However, since you insist, I have modest hopes that the new Congress might be able to potty train President Obama in a political/ideological sense; still in his infancy, he needs it. Perhaps the linked WaPo article might be a start from those at his end of the political/ideological spectrum. Bullying? he seems to be four-square against it except when he isn’t.

  6. Clarissa |

    ” “Hispanic” has come to suggest a race, even though it legitimately refers to ethnic ancestry or surname. Mr. Gonzalez is Hispanic, even though he may be a Caucasian.”

    -As a professor of Hispanic Studies, I have long tired of explaining to people that the word “Hispanic” cannot possibly refer to race. Especially, to a race. That it makes absolutely no sense to conflate all Spanish-speaking people into one monolythic racial label. For some reason, nobody wants to listen. Maybe because it is a lot easier to deal with a complex cultural, historical, linguistic, ethnic and political reality by reducing it to one word.

    As for the word “African American,” in class we have been reading a work by a XVIth century Spanish author where one of the characters was black. Students kept referring to the character as “African American.” I kept correcting them and pointing out why it made absolutely no sense to call him “African American.” Still, they had a very powerful resistance even to saying the word “black.” That was a very strange experience for me.

  7. Dan Miller |


    Yep. It’s weird. Fortunately for me, here in Panama the Great God of Political Correctness has not yet arrived. Since my wife and I are from the United States, we are Gringos and Gringas, respectively. The words are not normally (at least in our rural area up in the mountains and far from the big city) used as pejoratives; in conversations with Panamanians they and we commonly use those words in referring to us and to other Gringos and Gringas because they are aware that we are not offended by them.

    There are many nicknames here which folks in the U.S. would not comfortably have or use as to others: Gordo is a common nickname for chubby guys, Flaco for skinny guys and Chombo for Black guys. No offense is intended, and none is taken. It might however be different were a lady referred to as “Fea.”

  8. Clavos |

    “Hispanic,” which is actually a federal government construct imposed on us by the Census Bureau, is a complete misnomer when applied to anyone other than those who reside in what is now known as the Iberian Peninsula, i.e., modern day Spain and Portugal. Hispania was the Roman name for the peninsula. Clarissa is correct, it’s annoying to Spanish-speaking people to be lumped together into one amorphous group, particularly one with an outdated name. Gringos (and particularly their government) tend to ignore the fact that there are approximately two dozen Spanish-speaking nations in this hemisphere, and that each is an autonomous and unique culture, albeit with a common language and many similarities between them.

    If an all-encompassing name for Spanish speakers is necessary, perhaps the better one would be the one which is used widely in Latin America: Latinos.

  9. Dan Miller |


    Gracias, me amigo.

  10. Tom Carter |

    Clavos and Clarissa, thanks for the comments on the word “Hispanic.” I lived in Panama for two years and traveled through the rest of Central America and Mexico, and the wide range of cultural differences and linguistic variations are obvious. Kind of silly to try to lump all that into one word, but I guess that’s a symptom of the perceived need to put all people into one category or another.

    I had a number of Puerto Rican soldiers in my unit in Panama, and it was interesting to see them struggling now and then with the differences in their Spanish and Panamanian Spanish — some words and expressions meant widely different things. Like Dan says, I was a “Gringo” in that mix, and the word was used and accepted with no negative connotations.

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