Driving home last night, I got behind a car with a ‘Liberalism causes Terrorism” bumper sticker. I admit I was a bit flabbergasted to this bit of inanity, but the car also had a “US Air Force Retired” decal so that explained a lot. I am surprised that anyone, even in Colorado Springs, considers George W. Bush a liberal, or, Cheney or Rumsfeld for that matter.
There are mujahaddin from all over the world going to Iraq to learn the skills of successful terrorism and to practice those skills against our troops. Would this terrorism school even be in session if we didn’t have a boatload of troops for them to practice on? I don’t think so.
Between the Bushites, the Taliban, and Osama bin Laden I think it is fair to say that “Conservatism causes Terrorism”, althought “causes” is a bit over the top. “Fosters” or “Enables” is more appropriate.
But the bumper sticker got me thinking again about exactly what “liberalism” or “a liberal” means. I think most pundits and people, today, with the Republicans in power, think a liberal is anyone who disagrees with them.
I did find an interesting feature in Google to answer my question. At the Google search line, enter define:liberalism and Google will bring back a number of definitions from a variety of web sources. The upshot is that “liberalism”, in political philosophy terms, is a belief in limited government, free markets and the supremecy of individual rights and freedoms. (Isn’t that the Republican Platform?)
Using the define:liberal search, we have results that cover the gamut from ‘favors progress’ to ‘advocates greater freedom’ to ‘denies some of the basic truths of Christianity’. Quite a wide range for these broad-minded people. Oh yeah, they also include the British Liberal Party, now part of the Liberal Democrats.
What I see as a dis-connect between the liberal philosophy and the liberal practice is that the philosophy calls for a limited government and the practice calls for an active centralized government to enable individuals to be less dependent on government. I can see where this would bring on a sort of psychosis to the body politic.
But, what does define:conservatism yield? Preserving the status quo and avoiding radical changes. Some support of tradition. About what I suspected. Then how do we characterize those people that want to radically change the status quo by regressing back two hundred years? That’s not really a conservative approach. In Colorado Springs, we seem to have a very vocal minority promoting that approach.