This week, when Obama spoke about how entrepreneurs should be given no credit for their success in business because a government program was really at the heart of every American success, he clearly defined his vision for America. Those who understand freedom, understand that this was a defining moment, and a clarion call for those who believe in liberty and our Constitution to understand the mission before us.
An excerpt from Ladies and Gentlemen: Why the Survival of Our Republic Depends on the Revival of Honor, by Dr. Gina Loudon and Dr. Dathan Paterno.
What’s in a name? “That which we call a rose . . . By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)). That fits for liberals, or progressives, or agnostics—all of whom love to quibble over labels, all the while ascribing labels of their own to conservatives. I won’t bother with dictionary definitions of liberal, or progressive, or even conservative. Yes, the classic liberal was one who understood liberty—that seems self-evident—as all variations come from the Latin liber, meaning “free.” But the definition is irrelevant to the modern liberal; that definition has gone the way of the dinosaur.
The definition may not matter, but the history does. The history matters because at its very inception, modern liberalism sought to undermine, or at least ignore, God. John Locke, the “Father of Modern Liberalism,” wrote in his 1690 statement called “Two Treatises” that government derives its power from the governed and not from God or other supernatural beings. This idea dominated philosophy over the next century as the populace wrapped its counter-religion in a culture of intellectual orgy. The period of Enlightenment threw out tradition and ultimately sought to dismantle religion based upon its role in the monarchies that had become unpopular for their unlimited and unscrupulous power in the eighteenth century.
This idea of sovereignty and personal rights were the basis for the American colonization, and ultimately the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, among other foundational American documents.
In 1776 Adam Smith wrote “Wealth of Nations,” in which he applied classic liberalism to the field of economics, and pointed to the natural laws that a truly free market would offer. The laissez-faire economy took the world by storm and sparked a debate that would later be embraced by conservatives. This liberalism was changed once and for all when it was redefined by the British when they over- threw a monarchy in Ireland, and allowed voting by a secret ballot.