The liberal legacy
In "The Liberal Legacy," Mitchell Rofsky argues that while conservatives have dominated elections in the past 25 years, the policies of the federal government remain fundamentally liberal. Are Social Security, Medicare, labor laws, and the like truly immune to repeal or radical overhaul? Or can conservatives succeed in rolling back these liberal achievements?
While the steps made in the past century toward a type of nation the founders truly had in mind, the conservative "achievements" of the past 25 years should not go unheeded. Chipping away slowly at the great progress made in social policy, far-right ideas transformed into policy have certainly started a drastic rollback of that progress made in the labor, environmental and civil rights movements. The liberal achievements of the past 100 years should not be taken lightly, nor should they be able to be set back so easily.
Dan, San Diego (by way of MA)
"Liberal" achievments suchs as social security or labor laws can be repealed... but only if we let it happen. People are frequently duped by conservatives into doing what is wrong for the country. This is especially true when those policies help disenfranchised groups such as minorities, immigarants, the American worker, homosexuals, women, etc...
With Baby Boomers entering retirement in record numbers over the next 5-10 years, I highly doubt there will be any radical reforms...
Boston Resident, Boston
Why is it that Rofsky labels any initiative that has benefitted the Amerucan people as being a "liberal policy"? It couldn't be that he is liberal, now could it? The fact that Mr. Rofsky ignores is that none of these policies would have passed without conservative support in Congress. It's difficult to think that conservatives may not be the super-villians you think they are Mr. Rofsky. Liberals have been whining all year how Bush has polarized our great country. In my opinion, Mr. Rofsky, it has been journalists like you that have damaged this nation. By the way, you obviously know nothing about environmental policies - EPA's budget is at it's highest and emissions standards are the most stringent.
"Starving the beast" is an apt term. Some of these policies at some times may be better for us as a country, but all of them all the time are detrimental. While the liberal legacy has shifted the focus on rights, we have lessened our focus on responsibility. That, unfortunately, is the liberal legacy. The great liberal ideas assume we do not reduce our responsibilities, but as we gain rights embrace greater responsibilities. This is not the case, and we create an entitlement class not unlike the Roman mob. The governments, all governments regardless of party, seek to mollify the mob. But at what costs? We must provide all our citizens their basic rights. And it is probably about time again as a society to discuss basic rights. But the circuses need to go. Corporate welfare and most personal entitlements are past due for elimination.
While nothing is immune to repeal it seems that once something becomes part of the status quo it's difficult to change that status--and in the case of the programs like social security and medicare, it would be political and cultural suicide to do so. The best that someone can do is offer a better alternative--the self-described "compassionate conservatives" who want to move social programs into the realm of the church-based charities must see that the religious organizations with the largest amount of economic clout seem contrent to spend the bulk of the money they collect to enrich themselves, buy up real estate on which they need not pay taxes, own great works of art ( like at the Vatican) and generally use a pittance of their true worth on the needy. Then considering the many so-called holy men who are in this "business" for pushing a political agenda, hiding out and abusing their privileged position for personal perversions, and using the guise of religion to enrich themselves, the whole question of whether these are indeed "non-profit" , not political organizations is up for further research and analysis. I'm shocked to see that religious programming geared toward the Christian right is a tutorial on why war is good, and why the Christian-rightwingers have co-opted what it means to have values. The first thing a true religion based on Christ should teach is tolerance and yet it's the last thing or is actually a value that is never taught. The conservatives seem intent on forcing their version of Talibanization on an unsuspecting public. The struggle to change programs that exist as a social remedy to injustices inherent in the capitalistic system is a further illustration of how true "compassionate conservatives" exist only in their own minds. One wonders why our country seems to be moving more and more towards a "corporatocracy" and less towards a democracy. Even the war in Iraq is not about exporting democracy but about making a resource rich country open for US corporations to make money. Our soldiers are simply cogs being killed in the machinery of capitalism--the pretense that this is about protecting the US or liberating the Iraqis is just propaganda.
If you think liberal policy is immune, take a look at Europe, several countries over there are repealing parts of their cherished welfare state. Why?, because it's too expensive and puts too much of a burden on the economy (like most liberal policy). Will they be rolled back here, certainly when they become too much of a strain on the economy and taxpayers.
Eric W, Arlington
If consevatives could roll back these liberal achievements we would be back in the last century. From the polls that I have read conservatives definitely don/t want gays to have equal rights. I don't see how this is any different that the Blacks wanting Civil rights.
If the policies of the federal government are the result of Liberal achievements of the last century, why does Rofsky assume that Conservatives are going to suddenly be able to roll them back? They apparently haven't been able to do it before. If Conservatives have been administering Liberal programs all this time, then arenít we lucky that we have a two party system. Conservatives administering Liberal programs sounds like the perfect way to keep a check on both parties.
Susan, Acton, MA
Social Security, Madicare and labor laws are fine. These are needed Social Security and Medicare you get when you reach a certain age and you PAY for it. The problem I have with liberals is just because I work hard and went to school learned english and make a good living; I have to give to those who dont because either they dont care or just to stupid. The court system in our country is a disgrace as well. The settlement between Verizon and a Springfield family in todays paper where verizon is paying out money to a family because they did right thing and stopped like we are told in driving school. The driver who hit the girl settled so how much is enough. The liberals will be this country's downfall.