Where have all the liberals gone? Sounds like a plaintive 1960s anti-war song. But for years Americans talked about liberal-this and liberal-that. The Democratic Party was proudly liberal. They were everywhere, but guess what? I’m looking around and I don’t see any.

 Bloom County, 1982

                First let’s get the terms straight. The term “liberal” originally meant something like today’s “libertarian.” In the late 18th, early 19th Centuries, “liberal” meant liberty. Liberal philosophy and government were distinct from the authority of the King. Liberalism came from the people up, not from the Crown down.

                 The US Constitution and Bill of Rights were quintessentially liberal documents. Power came from the God-created individual and was loaned to the government to secure the individual’s rights. So, talk of a “liberal frame of mind” meant liberty for the citizen.

                This got stood on its head in the early 20th Century. President Woodrow Wilson’s authoritarian rule gave “progressive” a bad name, so the Progs re-branded themselves “liberals.” They were actually left-ish big government types, but the word seemed handy so they took it and made it into its exact opposite. This wouldn’t be the last time: we’ve got lots or People’s Democratic Republics, who are just stinky tyrannies.

                But as American politics developed in the mid to late 20th Century, “liberal” came to indicate a particular faction. What we call in America “liberal” is what’s called everywhere else “Social Democracy.” There are Social Democrat parties all over the world. Social Democracy is a blend of economic socialism and personal freedom. It aspires to have the best of both worlds: “socialism with a human face.”

                The problem with Social Democracy is that it’s a fundamental contradiction. You can’t be half slave and half free. You can’t be economically chained and still keep your personal liberty. The government powerful enough to control your work and wealth will eventually control everything else. At some point the Social overwhelms the Democracy and the liberals become decidedly illiberal.

                Here in America, I’d say that happened in 2020. At that point the Social Democratic Party switched over from Loudly Liberal to Proudly Progressive. And “Progressive” today is unapologetic Marxist and authoritarian. There’s no liberty there. All the goals and aims, from racial and economic “equity” to fighting climate change, suppressing misinformation and advancing social transformation—all of them involve coercion, which is the essence of Illiberal conduct.

                Opponents will be cancelled, examples will be made. All the power at the Progressives’ disposal will be used. For example, on Holy Saturday in the Christian Holy Week, Saturday Night Live chose to air a skit mocking Donald Trump as a grotesque caricature of Jesus. Har-dee-har. But Donald Trump has been indicted on felony criminal charges in New York, and Live from New York broadcasts a vicious portrait of the defendant to the jury pool. This is a defense attorney’s dream for Change of Venue.

                Trying Donald Trump in New York is putting Martin Luther King on trial in 1964 Philadelphia, Mississippi, after showing Birth of a Nation on TV. Democrats all over are doing the happy dance about Trump’s arraignment in a corrupt, one-party town. The weaponization of what should be a system of justice, used to destroy the political opposition? Liberals would have been at the very least “troubled.” They would have seen this as utterly illiberal.

                But this joyous Party isn’t Social Democratic any more. It’s flat-out Marxist—Progressive. Ends justify the means baby; gotta break the eggs to get the tasty omelet. Class enemies are cockroaches. Punch the Nazis, smash the fascists. Liquidate the kulaks! Campuses are Maoist paradises, terrorized by Red Guards who are connected to the ruling apparat.

                So where are the liberals? The folks who once said they stood for freedom and the rule of law—well–except for greedy businessmen who make too much money? They’re gone, baby. Long gone. If any of them are still around, they’re keeping their heads down to avoid being fingered by the Thought Police. Today, the Democratic Party is frankly illiberal. Get on the bus or get run over. Were all those liberals over the years just useful idiots all along?

                Where have all the liberals gone? Gone to Marxists one and all. When will they ever learn?

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