Liberalism and its Discontents

Last month's solemn 50th year remembrance of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and its confluence with an event of eventual monumental insignificance provides a useful context in which to contemplate the current state of national politics. The one reminds us of a political impulse that was at one time predominant and the other places in stark relief the ideological project that replaced it. We use labels as a handy mechanism for describing complex concepts. "Liberalism", as a political term, did not come into broad currency in the United States until the after the First World War. It described a proto-ideology that envisioned a muscular central government reimagined as an engine for social organization in contrast to the benign protector of liberty envisioned by the Founders. In ignoring the assumptions of the Founding, it was not particularly out of character for politics at the time. Other than pro forma invocations of the pantheon of Founding heroes, no one really made much...(Read Full Article)