Renewing classical liberalism? Part 1. The libertarian Democrat Manifesto

Terry Michaels on what he thinks liberalism ought to be if you are a Democrat.

He writes:

What’s the story behind today’s Democrat brand? I continue to be a partisan Democrat, but I’m not sure. I believe it’s something like: “Government isn’t all that bad; look at Social Security and Head Start. America isn’t always that good; we try to impose our will on a multi-cultural world. The marketplace is full of bad guys who need to be restrained, including their greed-driven political speech. Hey, we’re religious, too. And, not just equal opportunity for all, but re-distributive social justice entitlements for special “minority” victims, because, except for me and my friends, racism endures.”

Terry Michaels asks about a renewal of the Democrat party.

1. Centrist

2. Old time religion , offered by the economic policy reactionaries overly represented in the party’s congressional wing, preaches a return to an “old-time religion,” “complete-the-New-Deal” ideology.

That Fifties and Sixties battle cry might have made sense once. But it is mis-matched for today’s smarter voters, who want to make decisions from their homes, or at least their states.

Social welfare left-liberals often peddle a kind of middle-class neo-populism, a William Jennings Bryan appeal to folks with SUVs and satellite TV, with selective-memory imagery of the good life of the 1950s (again, see Bob Samuelson’s book.)

Sometimes they push class warfare, a version of which the ultra-ambitious John Edwards now seems to be selling as the self-appointed trial lawyer for the underclass.

Old-time religion seems to move (or at least receive lip service from) the Dupont Circle, K Street and AFL-CIO Washington-based wings of the base, but usually leaves the hinterland center cold. And the Beltway-based lefties have lost their nerve on non-interventionist foreign policy, so afraid of that “soft-on-defense” Cold War scarecrow the DLC neo-cons have been peddling for two decades that they allowed Bush’s elective war to commence without engaging any real debate.

So what is Terry Micheals suggestion. Become Jeffersionain liberals or as he in his libertarian Democrat Manifesto says;

We need a new story. Here’s a rough cut, a little more than can fit on a bumper sticker, assembled around the three fundamental issue frames of politics – economic, social, and foreign policy:

“Government: assure liberty by staying as far away as possible from our bank accounts, our bedrooms, and our bodies. Spread pluralistic democracy and free markets by example, understanding that neither can be planted by force on political real estate lacking indigenous cultivators for their growth. Restore the moral authority of mid-20th century “civil rights,” fashioning public policy around individuals, not tribal identity groups.”

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