Are there any serious liberals left in America? I ask this question in all sincerity. Forced to embrace a libertarian label because modern liberalism has drifted into social democracy and a vague social justice fashion, I am, like many others who promote a limted government and free market, a classical liberal at heart, a proponent of ideas that arose during the Enlightenment to end the rule of the few over the many, and to establish reason as man's greatest tool in a fight for liberty, equal opportunity and rule of law not rule of men. These grand Enlightenment ideas have been reduced to statist policy making and technocratic paternalism.
The Progressive turn at the beginning of the 20th century turned the tide of classical liberalism, and the Progressive direction has continued to this day, although periodic efforts have been made to change the direction and return America to limited government and a free market. The modern liberal embraced the Progressive ideology while denying ideology, which has created a spongy Center which has led liberalism steadily leftward away from economic freedom and individualism. This neo-liberalism has attempted to join market forces with progressive ideology on one hand and adopted a utilitarian alliance with neo-conservatives on the other. The modern liberal is lost, and the main reason is the denial of the basic principles that made liberalism a powerful force against State power to begin with.
Now, the modern liberal supports wars that decades ago they would resist with principled vigor, and the liberal is tacitly, and sometimes overtly and eagerly, supporting anti-capitalist efforts which are designed to make a free market impossible. The liberal thought in 2008 that they'd found the perfect combination in Barack Obama, a sensible progressive who has the intelligence to avoid extremes, someone their kissing cousins, the neo-conservatives, could deal with so that the mideast wars are correctly managed and brought to a win/win end. In many ways Obama is less of a Progressive and more of a Super-Liberal who stops short of far-Left madness so as to have the cake and eat it too. It was inevitable that modern liberalism would produce a President such as Obama, someone who can present war as a tool in social justice, use Wall Street to establish a modern State capitalism not at odds with the IMF, World Bank and UN, and implement the regulations required for social justice at home. This advancement of private/public partnership in a strong welfare state has been a dream of modern liberals for a long time.
But the opposition to a powerful State, which still exists in the form of limited government conservatives, libertarians, true capitalists, free marketers and fiscally conservative Blue-Dog Democrats, have challenged the modern liberal to clarify their position -- has the liberal fully accepted the Progressive agenda, or is the modern liberal prepared to stand for the principles that first established the liberal movement centuries ago? The current statist consequences of high unemployment, mounting debt, military quagmires in the mideast, interdependence with European economies in crisis, economic stagnation from over-regulation and uncertainty regarding future tax hikes, the revealed flaws of Obamacare, Dodd-Frank's impact on finance, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, and a breakdown in congress, and more, all make it impossible to hide in the Center uncommitted to a direction, playing pragmatist and saying we'll figure it out democratically as we go. It's not working, and forces on both sides are fighting for control of the direction. The modern liberal has to decide which direction they support. More of the same is no longer an option.