The real, legitimate, political fight in America isn’t between the right, with its commitment to liberty, and the left, with its commitment to justice.
Liberty and justice are complementary. Both are classical liberal values.
"Liberal" has taken on sinister connotations by its insidious misappropriation by totalitarians masquerading as "progressives."
It is imperative that we reclaim it. True liberals, classical liberals, must unite.
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines liberal as those "willing to respect or accept behavior or opinions different from one's own; open to new ideas . . . relating to or denoting a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise."
The real war, the right war, is between a united liberal front, comprising right and left, against a totalitarianism that has thoroughly infected the left and now is gaining purchase on the right.
Individual rights? Civil liberties?
Representative democracy? Free enterprise? Call me liberal.
Now, suddenly, left-wing liberals, are emerging in force. The center left enthusiastically embraces liberty conjoined with justice.
It’s the American way.
I pointed out here, last Halloween, the late Rep. Jack Kemp’s 30% across-the-board tax rate cut was directly inspired by JFK’s proposed tax reform.
In the event, the most aggressive top tax rate cuts (from 70% to 28%) did not come from Reagan. Or even Kemp, but from Democrats. Moreover, President Carter was an exemplary deregulator.
Recently the center-left Washington Post editorial board declared, ''Democratic capitalism, for all its shortcomings, remains the greatest engine of widely-shared prosperity the world has ever known.''
Joe Biden campaigned as an overt capitalist. He beat, among others, socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and solipsist Donald Trump.
Biden recently doubled down, calling capitalism alive and very well. Bravo!
Now, Ezra Klein, in his column at The New York Times — America’s Newspaper of Record — gives the supply-side a huge hug and kiss with The Economic Mistake the Left Is Finally Confronting, calling for "supply-side progressivism."
He innocently perpetuates the myth of supply-side as right wing.
Let me clarify. I’m an O.G. Jack-Kemp-era supply-sider. Back in the Reagan era I founded and led the Prosperity Caucus.
More recently I co-authored "The Capitalist Manifesto." I've also co-founded and chaired the 180,000 plus follower Capitalist League. We’re devoted to the promotion of, in the words of Adam Smith, "universal opulence."
But here's what Ezra Klein had to say, "The words 'supply-side' are coded, in American politics, as right wing. They summon the memory of Arthur Laffer’s curve, the history of Republicans promising that cutting taxes on the rich will encourage the nation’s dispirited John Galts to work both smarter and harder, leading economies to boom and revenues to rise. This has made it vaguely disreputable to worry about the supply-side of the economy. … But look closely and you can see something new and overdue emerging in American politics: supply-side progressivism."
Ezra? My Big Reveal. Classic supply-side, in its heyday, was firmly liberal in the third dictionary sense: "favoring policies that are socially progressive and promote social welfare. . ."
The founders and leaders of Supply-Side Classic (unlike many of the current drinkers of "New Supply-Side") actively favored labor, ethnics, and social justice.
Jack Kemp, before entering Congress, was the founder and president of the AFL football players’ union. He took the job seriously.
Aa a public official Kemp, a self-described "bleeding heart conservative," enthusiastically engaged with Black leaders such as Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., with inner city activists and, post-politics, in supporting efforts by people of color to stake their equitable claim to the American Dream for which he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. Clear now?
Moreover, Ezra Klein (despite a passing dalliance with Aaron Bastani’s silly "Fully Automated Luxury Communism") gets another important point exactly right:
"A problem of our era is there’s too little utopian thinking…"
No less an icon than Friedrich (“Why I Am Not A Conservative") Hayek wrote in in an essay titled Intellectuals and Socialism published in the Spring 1949 issue of The University of Chicago Law Review, excerpted and highlighted in "The Capitalist Manifesto":
"The main lesson which the true liberal must learn from the success of the socialists is that it was their courage to be utopian which gained them the support of the intellectuals and therefore an influence on public opinion which is daily making possible what only recently seemed utterly remote."
Klein understands clearly that social justice and liberty are complementary values.
We need both.
The left and right can be friendly rivals rather than mortal enemies.
We can even, without conniving at heresy, cooperate on many opportunities.
Forty years ago, the supply-side understood this. "Call me Ishmael. … For I only am escaped alone to tell thee." (Herman Melville, "Moby Dick.")
Time for classical liberals, left and right, to unite. We have nothing to lose but our chains.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply-Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
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