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Confession of a Proud Classical Liberal
by Robert Ditmar
25 May 2003

The use of the word liberal, in today's society, has developed a negative meaning to most of us. However, we should all be striving to become liberal in a classical sense.

TOK! I will admit it! I am truly a liberal at heart!

This will come as a surprise to those of you who might know anything about me. As the founder and editor of The Conservative Camp, most people would assume that I would consider a liberal or liberal thought to be the antipathy of all common sense. Yet here I am, openly coming out to admit that I am not only a liberal, but also that I am a very proud liberal ready to advocate my idealism and activism onto the rest of society.

Now that I have admitted what many of you may never have known, I had better explain in more detail what I mean when I use the word "liberal."  To me, "liberal" and "liberalism" are verbs, which in their classical meaning are actually what today we call conservative. The Acton Institute defines Classical Liberalism as,

A term used to describe a political philosophy commonly held in nineteenth-century England and France but now undergoing a renaissance in the United States. Classical liberals advocate free markets, a vibrant array of non-governmental institutions (such as civic groups, schools, churches, etc.), and minimal tax-financed governmental services. Classical liberals firmly believe that both individuals and property should be protected from physical harm. They also emphasize the strict enforcement of contracts and the right to free speech.

This pretty much flies right into the face of what today we call "liberalism." Today's liberals are those that advocate just the opposite. They desire an extreme portion of a person's paycheck in the form of higher taxes in order to support large government programs. Bureaucratic oversight is a term today's liberals love. As the left does not believe we individuals are capable of making wise or informed decisions about how best to allocate our own resources, they put their trust into a large "Big Brother" government loaded with programs to use your money more wisely. Since individuals might make a mistake with an investment or may not be "sensitive" enough in allocating their own money toward the "right" programs and charities, it is best to let government just take large portions of your income to make your allocations for you. Liberals reason that doing this assures we all put our money toward the "right" programs and charities instead of leaving that decision up to each person. It reduces the "risk" that you may decide not to put a portion of your hard-earned income to an organization such as The National Endowment for the Arts, allowing them to continue with "cultural art exhibits" like a Crucifix soaked in urine. It reduces the risk you might not donate your hard-earned money to groups such as The National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, or even the United Nations, all of whom advocate tax-funded, state-sponsored murder of innocent unborn children behind the facade of "choice." After all, liberals don't want the "crazy anti-choice, pro-Bush, pro-Jesus, vast Right Wing gun-toters" to make unethical choices in how they allocate their income. Today's liberals want to protect classical liberals from their "natural evil tendencies" in their non-support of such civilized affairs as women's rights and art culture.

The word "liberal" has been taken out of its classical content and hijacked by the radical left as mainstream liberalism. However, labels must be taken in relation to who, where and the circumstances they are applied. As an American conservative, my ideological beliefs and values are less in line to those of, say, Iranian or Saudi "conservatives." Their version of "conservatism" adheres to total state control on all aspects of everyone's life, down to the most personal of details. Conservatives from these lands advocate no individual rights whatsoever and brutally oppose all who attempt to change those societies toward liberal democratic ideals. Meanwhile, liberals in these same countries are the ones advocating change to promote individual freedom, personal rights and dignity, less governmental control, and more entrepreneurial spirit. This is quite the opposite of Western, and particularly, U.S. liberalism, which wants less personal freedom and much more state control over all affairs, public and personal. We can see where the label only relates to the circumstances to which they are borne. In Saudi Arabia, I would be labeled a "radical liberal" while Hillary Clinton although a female and not equal to a man in Saudi ideology (although I might be wrong in Hillary's case), might be called a "conservative!"

Understanding this, you can see why I now admit to being a liberal in the classical sense of the word. True, I am a conservative by today's definition. However, as a conservative, and therefore a classical liberal, I believe we must work to bring about a change in the mentality of our national psyche. We must do all in our power to become good servant-leaders demonstrating compassion to all and using our talents and treasures through individual commitment and faith-based organizations to create the free, vigorous and virtuous society envisioned by the classical liberals who founded our country. We must remain on guard against today's radical "liberals" that seek to take our very freedoms and rights as individuals away, one Federal court appeal at a time. We must return the word "liberalism" to its true meaning, which invokes compassion, caring, cohesive and harmonious existence, helping, hope, opportunities and prosperity. We need to remember that it is conservatives that demonstrate the true meaning of compassionate classical liberalism, hence the label "compassionate conservative."

I hope all of you classical liberals to the right side of common sense will join me in proclaiming your liberalism loud and proudly to the so-called "liberals" on the left. Drive them crazy by taking back the labels true meaning. Let them find some other label they can sugarcoat in order to hide the truth.

Compassion and Prosperity!

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