I voted for Joe Biden. I just posted “8 Ways to Oppose Fascism.” In it, I describe the three-way 20th Century contest between Liberalism, Communism, and Fascism. In my opinion, every American president of both parties after World War II through President Obama accepted the broad Liberal consensus. That consensus held that governments rule with the consent of the governed. Governments have a duty to protect individual rights, including property rights, and administer justice on an individual basis. Individuals have maximum freedom to direct their own lives as long as it does not harm others, and as long as it is consistent with extending the same rights to others. I believe growing forces in both parties reject that consensus. Unless there is a revival, I believe Joe Biden will be the last president of the bi-partisan 20th Century consensus.
First, the easy part. I am for open immigration. I am for amending the Constitution to permit Congress to regulate the production, distribution, sale, ownership, and usage of firearms. I am for a woman’s right to choose to abort her child in consultation with her own medical professionals. I am for multilateralism in our military and defense relationships. I am for multilateralism in managing the rules for currencies (international finance). I am for multilateralism for managing the rules for exchanging goods and services (international trade). I am for using government as a convenient method of funding charitable safety insurance programs for health, old age pensions, and catastrophe. I am for using government as a convenient method to fund charitable baselines for food, water, electricity, education, housing, and education. However, for the role of government, I recognize that developed countries have experiments with a wide variety of methods of funding and delivering these services. Farmers do not need to be public employees to make sure that people don’t starve. For all these reasons, I support Joe Biden.
There are, and always have been, elements in both major parties that align with my views. Similarly, there have always been elements of both major parties that don’t align with my views. Therefore, I have swung between the parties. I do not consider myself a moderate, or somehow more objective than other people. I just vote for people who seem to match my views on major issues.
However, just as Communism imploded in 1989, I can see 20th Century Liberal Capitalism beginning to implode. The Liberal wing of both parties is in decline. Government relying on consent of the governed? Behavioral scientists challenge the meaningfulness of consent and focus on cognitive biases. Public decisions as the result of participatory legislatures? There is growing pressure to cede political evaluation of policy options to the technical advisers charged with evaluating the consequences of those options. Freedom of the press? There is growing pressure to regulate the flow of information, especially information with political import. Rights of individual defendants? There is growing pressure to subjugate presumption of innocence and due process not to rights of the alleged victim, but to the alleged harm experienced by observers affected by a similar crime. The ideal of justice as blind and focused on the actions only of the accused individual? The move is toward the exact opposite.
But most dangerously, in my opinion, is the success of illiberal activists. It is often intentional propaganda and obfuscation. The definitions of terms are changed after the fact to smear public figures. Just like the Committee of Public Safety at the height of the reign of terror, being labeled a moderate is to be accused of a thought crime. Rather than engage in substantive debate, the young are being trained to de-platform those they disagree with. Trivial activities from long lost decades are dug up to degrade ‘the enemy’ and drive them from the public square.
There is no safe harbor. To be inclusive is to culturally appropriate and be oppressive. To be neutral is to default to the dominant and be oppressive. To be silent is to be complicit with evil.
Basic functions like police are being undermined. Despite polling among African-Americans favoring more police resources to reduce response times in African-American neighborhoods considered underserved, activists demand defunding the police. Despite minority mayors raising police funding pursuant to recommendations of the 2015 blue ribbon panel formed by a minority Attorney General serving a minority President, people who try to discuss defunding police rather than repeat the slogan (not even in opposition yet) are branded oppressors or sell-outs.
Of course, none of this is the first or the worst in American history. It does not need to be either first or worst to be bad. And I am humble enough to consider that my values could be wrong, maybe all this is good. But large or small, good or bad, the rise of illiberalism among the young is unmistakable.
The Progressive wing of the Democratic Party is anything but. Among a growing number, justice is defined in terms of the group, not in terms of the individual. Due process and equality before the law for political opponents are labeled microaggressions. Attempts to strip the law of references to race are actually redefined as racism. Joe Biden may be the last post WWII consensus president nominated by either party.