My Friends, Colleagues, and Allies:
We find ourselves at an interesting position here in 2017. Individual liberty has made some positive strides recently (gay marriage, marijuana legalization, for example), but we’ve also suffered large defeats (Obamacare/Trumpcare, trade protectionism, for example). It is a good time for reflection.
Classical liberalism has taken a backseat to the more illiberal political ideologies of modern conservatism, modern liberalism, socialism, and progressivism over the past century. Many people argue that classical liberalism has no place in the modern world; it is an old philosophy that serves no purpose anymore. These folks are right; we have given them no reason to consider us modern.
Classical liberals do not spend much time discussing the matters and issues of the day. Most of the time, we simply deny they exist at all rather than engage. Issues like global warming, the wage gap, gender inequality, income inequality, etc are simply dismissed as either hoaxes, mindless griping, or simply irrelevant. I have done this myself. But by failing to address these issues that are on people’s minds, regardless of the validity of such, we necessarily cede the conversation to the illiberal ideologies. What’s worse, we look out of touch.
How can classical liberals remain relevant in today’s society? By following in the footsteps of our forefathers and engaging in the issues of the day. Let the sociologists argue about whether or not gender inequality exists (or multiple genders). Let the economists argue about the wage gap. Let the climate scientists argue about climate change. Rather, let’s address these issues head on. Taken the problem as given, how can classical liberalism address the issue? How can classical liberalism address environmental issues? How can classical liberalism address displacement from trade? How can classical liberalism address the wage gap and discrimination?
If we are to remain relevant in today’s world, if we are to be given a seat at the table, we need to prove we belong there. We need to engage people’s concerns, lest we doom ourselves to the perception of obsolescence.
Your Fellow in Liberty,