Thursday, September 16, 2010

The backlash against the backlash

In response to the Tea Partiers' calls for smaller, less intrusive government (and the matter of how many Tea Parters are genuine libertarians is a matter for a different rant), old-school liberals are circling the wagons and praising big government. I am not sure that we should uncritically join in.

For those seeking personal individual liberty, including LGBT people and women seeking greater reproductive autonomy, big government has traditionally been our enemy far more often than it has been our friend. A government powerful enough to give you what you want is powerful enough to take from you what you have, and history shows that such a government will unhesitatingly do so.

Nor will it do to believe in only those individual liberties that we ourselves want to exercise. I have heard progressives argue for their own rights and then dismiss others' rights with comments like "There are no objective rights" and "That's the sort of thing that the government decides for all of us." Such hypocrisy can only help their opponents' cause.

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