What Happened to Liberalism?

The label of “liberal” has become a pejorative term in the last 25 years and I wonder why. Young people associate liberalism with failed social policy, failed economic policy, wimpy pacifism and misplaced condescension. However, the reality is quite the opposite. Liberal policies have been responsible for most of the greatest achievements in our history, especially economic achievements. Here is a partial list of what “liberalism” contributed to our society:

  • Creating the 40-hour work week.
  • Establishing child labor laws.
  • Establishing the minimum wage.
  • Establishing workplace safety requirements.
  • Ending the Great Depression.
  • Building virtually the entire infrastructure of the country from the Hoover Dam and interstate highways, to the electric grid and the Internet.
  • Winning two World Wars.
  • Public education, including the best public university system in the world.
  • Giving women the right to vote.
  • Ending Jim Crow segregation laws, enforcing the rights of African-Americans to vote.
  • Creating the greatest industrial expansion in world history.
  • Creating the highest standard of living across all economic classes in world history.
  • NASA, and the resulting technological boom.
  • The EPA, which ended the mass water and air pollution of the previous 40 years.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Health and Human Services (HHS), responsible for nearly 60 percent of all Nobel prizes in science and medicine since then.
  • Creating real economic mobility.
  • Social Security.
  • Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Virtually eliminating poverty, until the 1990s.

Liberalism has had failures, welfare is one example, but once one separates the facts from right-wing distortions the failures of liberal policies are far rarer than the successes. Let’s blog a bit about Liberlaism.


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