Kevin Drum writes, "the entire Western world has been moving inexorably in a liberal direction for a couple of centuries."
If this is true, it is only because the definition of "liberal" has changed. After becoming increasingly less authoritarian and intrusive and controlling for hundreds of years, government is again becoming far more authoritarian and intrusive. Only with a change in the definition of "liberal" over time can one consider attempting to ban, for example, the eating of certain types of foods as "liberal"
Until a few years ago, I would have said that Drum was right that there is a continuity of liberalization in the social realm. I celebrate the increasing acceptance of differences, from race to sexuality. But even here people who call themselves "liberal" are demanding authoritarian limitations on speech and expression, try to enforce a dictatorship of hurt feelings.
The whole post of his is a really interesting insight into the Progressive mind. Apparently, the (purported) lack of compromise in government is the fault of just one of the two sides. I am not sure how that is possible, but that seems to be the Progressive position (you will find an equal number of folks on the Right who believe the same thing, though they blame the opposite group).
Essentially, you can see in this post the strong Progressive belief that the default mode of government is to constantly generate new prohibitions, rules, strictures, taxes, regulations, and penalties. And that anyone who stands in the way of this volume production of new legal entanglements must be overcome, even if one has to break the law to do it.
A few days ago Matt Yglesisas wrote a #Slatepitch piece arguing that Hillary Clinton "is clearly more comfortable than the average person with violating norms and operating in legal gray areas"—and that's a good thing. In a nutshell, Democrats can't get anything done through Congress, so they need someone willing to do whatever it takes to get things done some other way. And that's Hillary. "More than almost anyone else around, she knows where the levers of power lie, and she is comfortable pulling them, procedural niceties be damned."
Unsurprisingly, conservatives were shocked. Shocked! Liberals are fine with tyranny! Today Matt responded in one of his periodic newsletters:
A system of government based on the idea of compromises between two independently elected bodies will only work if the leaders of both bodies want to compromise. Congressional Republicans have rejected any form of compromise, so an effective Democratic president is going to try to govern through executive unilateralism. I don't think this is a positive development, but it's the only possible development.
So Democrats are within their rights to lie, cheat and steal -- to do whatever it takes -- to break through the gridlock. I wonder: The worst gridlock this country has ever had was in the 1850's, when no compromise could be found on slavery. If Democrats are empowered today to lie, cheat, steal to break the gridlock, should they have been similarly empowered in 1850?
Of course, no one would want that. But it raises an important point. If you define the game as one with nietzsche-ist / Machiavellian rules, no one ever seems to consider that it is just as likely the other side will win as yours will. In fact, if you truly represent liberality, I am not sure this kind of anything-goes game is stacked in favor of the truly liberal players.
For folks who think that the end justifies the means here, and that we need to break the rule of law in order to save it, I would offer this paraphrase to an old saying: you can't sell your soul and have it too.