Classical liberals rejoice in individual development and self-authorship, entrepreneurship, diversity and tolerance, moral pluralism, mutual respect, free speech and rational discourse, science, in different virtues, and human flourishing. Together these dimensions of liberalism reinforce each other.
DBx: Speaking as a life-long liberal who came of age when liberalism was on the ascent – when, for example, regulation by market competition was replacing regulation by government, when Milton Friedman enjoyed widespread popularity, and when the Berlin Wall came crashing down – I am today quite pessimistic about America. Very many Americans are now enthralled with populism. The leading populist on the right, of course, is Trump. And his ring is now being kissed by many supplicants who, I assume, pant for the prospect of exercising some of the power that he’ll obtain if he’s re-elected to the presidency.
But populists prominently populate also the left. Biden rules as one, and Congress has no shortage of ‘progressive’ populists to assist him in his appalling disregard of both the rule of law and the laws of economics. While I have my own opinion about what ‘should’ be the outcome of the depressing likely rematch of Biden vs. Trump, I recognize that reasonable classical liberals can (and do) disagree over this matter. I feel as though it’s again 2016 and American voters once more face the choice of being garroted or burned alive.
But one thing’s certain: Unless and until this raging fever of populism is tamped waaaaay down and there arises some semblance of respect for liberal norms, America’s politics will become more distasteful and dangerous, while America’s economy will weaken.