Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Liberalism Going Forward

This article by Marcellus Andrews, a fellow at the New America Foundation, is an interesting call to arms for liberals. Using the ideas of the economist Milton Friedman, an arch conservative, free-market zealot, and Nobel Prize-winner, Andrews advocates a vigorous liberalism based on the primacy of freedom: "Liberals need to create policies to realize their vision of freedom, just like Friedman. It's time to talk about freedom first, policies second... If we have the good sense to learn Uncle Milton’s greatest lesson—how to be consistent, funny, tough and smart freedom-obsessed radicals who propose real solutions to people’s problems—then we will be ready to step in after the next right-wing crackup."

I especially like Andrews' take on a specifically liberal meaning of freedom:

Friedman was right about freedom being the point of policy, but was dead wrong about what freedom is all about. Liberals know that freedom requires means. Liberal freedom is the right and the capacity to make responsible choices. You can’t be free in the United States if you can’t read, write and count; if you can’t get a job because you don’t have useful skills; if you aren’t treated fairly by the courts and police; if you are harassed, beaten or killed because of your race, or gender or sexual preference; if free markets stick it to you by making everything cost more than it should—especially things you need, like health care, housing and schools. You cannot be free if you have the bad luck to be born to poor or incompetent parents, if you live in a city with lousy schools, if your neighborhood is full of angry and depressed people who react to life’s troubles by hurting and killing each other and maybe you, too.