By “liberal,” I don’t mean big-state welfarism. I mean the tenets and spirit of liberal democracy. Respect for the outcome of elections, the rule of law, freedom of speech, and the principle (in courts of law and public opinion alike) of innocent until proven guilty. Respect for the free market, bracketed by sensible regulation and cushioned by social support. Deference to personal autonomy but skepticism of identity politics. A commitment to equality of opportunity, not “equity” in outcomes. A well-grounded faith in the benefits of immigration, free trade, new technology, new ideas, experiments in living. Fidelity to the ideals and shared interests of the free world in the face of dictators and demagogues.Bret Stephen’s New York Times March 15, 2020
In years gone by through both Republican and Democratic administrations (as the full commentary notes) this is pretty much where we used to be in America, the reasonable middle with a touch of personal responsibility.
What happened, how did we come to embrace extremes? How did we go from respecting initiative and individual responsibility to an obsession with entitlement and finding scapegoats to blame for our failures?
How did we come to believe we deserved more from government, that government is the solution and that solution is free or more accurately with other individuals and generations footing the bill?
How were we made to believe there is no longer opportunity and that we have a right to be relieved of consequences resulting from our decisions?