Byron Williams – Syndicated Columnist, Author;
Pastor of the Resurrection Community Church Oakland, CA
Posted: February 13, 2011 06:13 PM
We should eulogize liberalism not for its death, but far worse, its silence. For decades, the political philosophy of John Locke has appeared to have strutted and fretted his hour upon the stage only to be heard from no more.
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberalism could be loosely defined as an adherence to free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and freedom of religions. Withstanding events such as the Civil War, two world wars, a Great Depression and a Cold War, has understandably altered the face of liberalism. The classical liberalism of the 18th century was not the social liberalism of the 20th century.
But somewhere between the civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam protest, liberalism lost its voice — succumbing to the definitions provided by those on the political right. And by tangible indicators it has yet to regain its voice — at least not in any comprehensible way.
The silence of liberalism has left a void, filled not by its natural antithesis, Edmund Burke conservatism, but a right-wing derivative that has successfully managed to dominate American political discourse for the past several decades.
Right-wing politics have made the face of liberalism an indefensible straw man that I would not recognize any more than I would be acquainted with what is often passed off as modern day Christianity.
We are hard pressed to hear an elected official self-identify as liberal. The label has been masterfully transformed into a pejorative that to declare: “I am a liberal!” would likely be political suicide in most contested campaigns.
Progressive has become the more palatable, focus group-tested substitute. Though embraced largely by those on the left end of the political spectrum, progressive is a word that can, and has, been embraced by both sides.