I like how Walter Mead put it about liberalism that there have been different stages of liberalism, but I would put it differently. And that the Liberals that Mead was talking before America and the Federal Republic was put together with its federal system and the Liberals are of the eighteenth century were the real Liberals in America. Mead used the term real liberalism, I’ve used that myself as well, but I tend to use the term real liberals instead. I don’t buy the notion that if you call yourself a Liberal, Conservative or whatever, than that is what you are. That if you want to be part of those clubs, there are certain values you have to believe in and practice.
I would’ve love to of seen our Founding Fathers the Founding Liberals of America and what they would’ve thought of today’s so-called ‘modern liberals’. I seriously doubt they would’ve seen people on MSNBC talk, who watch MSNBC talk, who read or write for The Nation and what now has become The New Republic, after apparently it was hijacked from Socialists, I doubt they would’ve viewed these leftists as Liberals. You have writers for The Nation and TruthDig supposed to be Liberals, who identify their own politics as democratic socialist. John Nichols and Chris Hedges, respectfully. Certainly on the Left, but who make Liberals look very conservative in comparison.
I’m a Liberal, a proud Liberal at that and have always identified my own politics as liberal. Tom Jefferson perhaps the Founding Liberal in America and Jack Kennedy are two my political heroes. Jefferson for the idea of the Federal Republic, individual rights and freedom, a real individualist, who also believed in responsibility. Yes he owned slaves, but his vision for what America should be and could be for everyone, even if he didn’t include Africans and women of all races, still stands as this great liberal democracy where is freedom can be achieved for everyone.
Except for slavery and racism Jack Kennedy believed in the same things as Jefferson. A bit more progressive than Jefferson when it came to the idea of a public safety net. But Kennedy believed in individual freedom both personal and economic for everyone. He believed that all Americans should and have equal rights under the law. You can be a Liberal and believe in individual freedom and also believe in the public safety net for people who fall on hard times. A public insurance system for people who are going through rough economic waters. What separates Liberals from Social Democrats lets say, is that Liberals believe in insurance. Social Democrats believe in welfare and government dependence regardless of income level.
Jack Kennedy believed in the public safety net, but again a social insurance system for people in need. That would help them in the short-term be able to survive, but would also empower them to be able to get themselves on their feet and live in freedom, not of government. Thats the main difference between a Liberal and a Socialist. Between a Jack Kennedy/Bill Clinton and a Bernie Sanders. Limited government to help and empower people, vs an unlimited government designed to take care of everyone for an indefinite period. The real Liberals believe in opportunity and freedom. Good opportunities to achieve freedom in life. Not the freedom to live off of a welfare state and take no responsibility for one’s own affairs.