Fact

America's founding fathers were liberals (classic liberals, not modern liberals).

America’s Founding Fathers were Liberals

America’s founding fathers were classical liberals, meaning they favored liberty, private property, capitalism, freedom of religion, and a limited Republican style of government. See definition of classical liberalism.[1][2][3]

In fact, the founding fathers of America weren’t just “liberals”, they were Republicans, Federalists, and Democrats too. They were Patriots, they were a lot of things, but one thing they weren’t were monarchists or loyalists to the crown. The father of modern political science and modern Republicanism Machiavelli said, “the governments of the people are better than those of princes” [Book I, Chapter LVIII of Livy], and in the Spirit of Montesquieu’s “Liberal” Republicanism they agreed (although they often didn’t agree on much beyond that).

I say this only as a technicality, and from a historical perspective, as the Tories, King’s men, and Loyalists (the conservatives of the day) were all but forced to choose between “The Crown” and the principles of Liberalism due to the events leading up to the Revolution and America’s victory in it.[4]

The founders shared general ideology with both major parties of today (Democrats and Republicans), but the key here is that America is a liberal nation and what we think of as “conservative” is actually liberal-conservative (like Burke, not classically truly conservative like a King to the right of Hobbes).

This can be confirmed by thinking about the “American Revolution” where our patriot founders fought the King’s men to create a Democratically-minded Liberal Republic.

After the Revolution, many conservative loyalists were forced to flee, and those who stayed weren’t always treated kindly.

Certainly, no loyalist (no true Tory, Loyalist, or King’s men; i.e. no “true” conservative) was going to have a position in the new government. The leaders of the new government would be comprised solely of Patriots.

Even our most conservative founders like Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, John Adams, and Gouverneur Morris were types of liberals (conservative liberals in terms of economics and central power… but generally social progressive liberals in terms of issues like slavery and modernization).

Those liberal-conservative founders weren’t “conservative” in the classical sense, they were just a different type of liberal than the more radically classically liberal (and often socially conservative) Anti-Federalist founders like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry (who were willing to accept conservative positions on slavery if it meant avoiding a strong central government). See types of liberalism and conservatism.

BOTTOMLINE: Although some founders were today what we call “conservative” in America (which is liberal-conservative for the most part), America was founded by liberals and principals of liberalism and is today still a liberal nation. Other countries and parties throughout the world have specifically been trying to prove that liberalism doesn’t work since about the mid 1800’s (if not just since 1776), and honestly it is what a lot of the World’s major Wars have been about. We should not forget the importance of defending liberal values in America (and in our case that is as simple as defending the spirit of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the character of the men and women who fought for them, ideally through liberal and democratic means).

PBS The American Revolution

SEMANTICS: Liberalism is the ideology of liberty and equality. Classical liberalism emphasizes liberty, and Social liberalism emphasizes equality. Thus another way to phrase this would be, as one commenter eluded, “America’s founding fathers were liberals. Some were more liberal than others, but all were liberals (not “classical liberals”, but just “liberals”). And, even amongst the most liberal of the founders [and most the most conservative for that matter], differing ideas were held as to how best to assure human liberty [and equality] in the state.” In other words, the founders didn’t favor authority, tradition, and state control over liberty like the Tories did, and they fought for equality-for-all in their battle for human rights, sovereignty, and democracy (something rarely done in history), but that doesn’t mean that they were all what we think of as “modern liberals” or that they fully agreed on how best to ensure liberty, equality, and justice for all. Today, social liberalism is the predominate form of liberalism and we can say those who favor the liberty aspect (like a states’ rights advocate or a libertarian) are being “classically liberal”, so the distinction works, but we can still despite this say simply, “America’s founders are liberals” and “the nation was founded on the principles of liberalism”. Feel free to comment below.

TIP: Economic classical liberalism is a thing, it is what Adam Smith, Franklin’s friend and father of modern economics, presents in his Wealth of Nations… but don’t go thinking every classical liberal is a staunch Goldwater or Friedman Libertarian. That isn’t the case at all. Thomas Paine favored a wealth tax, and the term “commonwealth“, which predates the U.S. gaining independence, essentially implies a redistribution of wealth for the “common social good” within the state. In modern terms, we can say “all the founders were types of classical liberals”, but some were more progressive or conservative than others, in terms of economics and/or social policy, on a given issue. Later, those liberty minded, progressive, and conservative liberal ideologies would grow into the modern political factions, but at the time they are all liberal-left to George III’s right.

FACT: The Glorious Revolution and England, the American Revolution, and the French Revolutions were all liberal revolutions. The rebels in each case fought for principles of liberalism and against kings. America was founded on the principles of the enlightenment (as can be clearly seen in the structure of the Republican government enacted by the Constitution, and the classical liberal principles enacted by the Bill of Rights).

FACT: Before the Revolution, about a third of the colonists were loyal to Britain, a third neutral, and a third wanting rebellion. All the founders were essentially patriots (those who wanted rebellion) and none were openly loyal to Britain. The Patriots called those who supported Britain, “persons inimical to the liberties of America.”

TIP: All the founders were also Republicans (in that they favored a Republic). They were almost all Democrats (favoring elements of democracy) and Federalists (favoring a federation or confederation of states; this is even true for the Anti-Federalists). The founders were generally well versed in the history of famous successful nation-states like Rome and Athens and pull their ideas from the enlightenment philosophers who examined these nation-states like Locke and Montesquieu.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America: “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – The Declaration of Independence; where Thomas Jefferson mirrors the words of the father of liberalism John Locke.

The Political Ideology of the Founding Fathers

To be clear, not every founder agreed on ideology. In fact, there was little agreement.

Some founders were conservative in terms of economics, others were liberal in terms of economics, some favored a strong central government, others wanted States’ rights, some wanted a rural nation with no central bank, some wanted a modern nation focused on trade. In these ways, our founders were diverse in their views as we are here in 2016. This is one of the reasons why we have a United States and not just a single State. the liberal principle of federalism allows for a diverse nation of United States!

The founders’ wide range of beliefs eventually led to both party politics and famous compromises, but despite their differences, they had one thing in common: They were not loyalists (and thus not true conservatives for the time).

Some founders may have wanted to keep ties with Britain, but these more classically conservative founders like Adams and Hamilton were Whig-like Federalists, not Tories and King’s men. Likewise, the more socially conservative pro-slavery founders in the southern Anti-Federalist party were true liberals, despite their social conservatisim. Thus, even the most socially or classically conservative founder is a type of liberal.[5]

In fact, this is still true for most Americans today. We may think of a deep south politican as socially conservative, or a New York banker as classically conservative, but make no mistake, no true freedom-loving by-the-Constitution Patriot is a true Conservative in 2016 any more than they would have been in 1776.

The Constitution: A Liberal Governing Document

The Constitution was written, and the war won, by the American Patriots (pro-independence classical liberals of all kinds) rebelling against “the Crown” (conservatives).

Many of the true loyalists fled after the war. Meanwhile, of those who stayed, even the “somewhat loyal” Federalists feared political “factions“, favored freedom, wanted to get away from kings and taxes, and thus, despite their conservative character, didn’t want a “traditional, conservative” pro-monarch style of government.

While the founders didn’t agree on much, as stated above, it is largely their agreement of the principles of liberalism which kept them united.

Instead of breaking into different factions or favoring a confederacy (as the Articles of Confederation did), the founders eventually found compromise positions in a Constitutional Federal Republic (a more perfect Union), as detailed by 1789’s Constitution. They focused on a mutual agreement on a separation of powers and liberty, and other basic principles of liberalism and the democratic ideals that opposed the aristocracy of Britain.[6][7]

Just like today, there is little agreement on what liberty means exactly or how government should look based on our core principles, but there is no question, despite the conflict, we uphold principles like truth, justice, and liberty for all.

You can read about each founding father. We know that the Age of Enlightenment was based on the concept of Liberalism and the works of the Father of Liberalism John Locke. Out of these ideas come Britain’s Glorious Revolution (1688), the American Revolution (1776), and the French Revolution (1788).

In sum, the United States of America was founded on the concepts of liberalism and the separation of church and state (although, to be fair, these words aren’t said explicitly in the founding documents).

Tea, Taxes, and The American Revolution: Crash Course World History #28

TIP: In Latin “liber” means “free.” So classic liberalism embodies the concept of liberty. The founders are all liberals; they believed in and fought for freedom. The Constitution establishes a Government that is evidence of this and documents like the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights back this up. Even the “loyalist” founding fathers were Liberal in many respects; such is the nature of fighting against the (already somewhat liberal) aristocracy in the name of liberty.

TIP: The main thing that divides Americans into factions and parties are differing views on the meaning of liberty. Nearly all Americans value liberty above all else (which essentially makes everyone, even today, a type of liberal), yet there is a big difference between a conservative-libertarian and a social-liberal, this is the key point to grasp. In a perfect world the factions work together to create a perfect unity, in practice our Founders disagreed with each other fervently, and the divide on what liberty means has resulted in the Civil War and battles over Civil Rights.

America’s Founding Fathers Were Liberals

America and the Principles of Liberalism

The American revolution is inspired by the Age of Enlightenment in Europe which saw the birth of classic liberalism. At its core Liberalism simply means “we don’t want to be ruled by an aristocracy because we value liberty.”

Today, if we could ideologically separate the Libertarian Party of America from its conservative ideology, which favors a restrictive religious-based law, we could say that “classic liberalism” is simply libertarianism. If we can’t, then we have to concede it is closer to the social liberalism of the Democratic party, which sacrifices small government for social welfare, which isn’t classical liberalism either (it is more a mix between what Franklin set up in his Commonwealth and what Morris almost lost his position over).

“He never would concur in upholding domestic slavery. It was a nefarious institution. It was the curse of heaven in the States where it prevailed.” – 1787. James Madison Report on Gouverneur Morris’ Address to the Federal Constitutional Convention

“This country must be united. If persuasion does not unite it, the sword will.” Gouverneur Morris (i.e. a social liberal, which is somewhat of a traditionally conservative position).[8]

Liberalism and the Religious Views of the Founders

The liberal ideology of the founders is true not just in terms of politics and rights, but in terms of faith too.

Despite many having strong faiths, the Founding Fathers explicitly agreed on a secular government and structure for the state based on reason.

The separation of powers, including the separation of branches of government and the separation of church and state, are core classical liberal values discussed by Montesquieu (early America’s most cited author and an obvious influence of Madison’s Virginia Plan). They are mirrored by Locke, Kant, and many more. Other, more traditional liberal-conservative thinkers like Hume and Burke, are were also considered, and an ongoing debate between empiricism and rationalism also affected things.

Other Liberal Documents

The Bill of Rights, Constitution, Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independence, and Party Platforms of each year all read like a classic liberal manifesto. This is because Britain itself was the aristocracy trying to oppress the nation who demanded liberty (America).

Rebelling against the King and taxes created what can arguably be called by no other name than “liberal revolution” and thus the patriots which won it can be called by no other name than liberal.

Despite the truisms above, and as noted above, it should be made clear that many founders and Americans of the time were then and are today “conservative” in that they favor tradition and order. During the American Revolution, this could mean favoring the church, the rule of law, and/or ties to Britain. Later this would mean favoring states-rights for slavery, favoring temperance, favoring states rights over Civil Rights, or favoring big business over people and public welfare, which is something both parties have historically done at times in the US. The definition of conservative is subject to change depending on what it is opposing.

What is a Liberal (Social Liberalism)? Notice how this explains that if you are poor and oppressed you can’t be free? That is social liberalism (the dominant liberalism of today). Libertarianism says, “sorry friend” freedom trumps your meal; you’ll have to starve on the street. Traditional classical liberalism (libertarianism) led to the Civil War, rejection of Civil Rights, and lots of other troubles. Many modern social liberals reject the idea of completely free-markets. Some Libertarians reject the idea of Keynes and the social liberals.

What Is Libertarianism (Classical Liberalism / Modern American Libertarianism)? Libertarianism is classical liberalism. The only problem is the American Libertarian party is no more classically liberal than the modern Democratic party. They both favor the core ideology, but the interpretation is very different. Social liberals, like the Democrats, believe liberty can only exist with a strong safety-net (they believe in Keynes and the welfare state).

Types of Liberalism

Shortly after the birth of liberalism, the ideology split into a few types of which the modern parties have grown out of.

We can say the great Americans have typically fallen into roughly five groups:

  • Classic Liberals: A libertarian with no right-leaning ideology. Favors a capitalist economy in the style of Adam Smith
  • Social Liberal: A liberal who believes that liberty can only be obtained with some government intervention. Favors mixed-market capitalism (Keynes).
  • Conservative Liberal: Pro-business liberal or conservative who favors trade and free markets, but has an elitist outlook. This is a type of classical liberal.
  • Conservatives: A response to whatever the liberalism of the day is, typically pro-religion (even to the effect of recombining church and state).
  • Social Conservatives: Conservatives who are against the use of government to provide for social welfare.
  • Socialist: A rejection of capitalism and liberalism, ideologically and economically in favor of Marx. A Communist is an extreme socialist who doesn’t want any sort of mixed-socioeconomic system.

Which founding fathers were liberals? The founders can be thought of as a few types of liberals (some of which we actually associate with the term “conservative” today. We can express this roughly as: radical liberals like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, conservative liberals like Alexander Hamilton, centered liberals like Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, and early social liberals like Gouverneur Morris (whose family were loyalists and who almost became a traditional conservative, but sided with the Whigs). Today we may describe figures like Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry as social conservatives, or Hamilton as a Neoliberal or traditional conservative, but in their day the Tories of Britain and King George III where the conservatives and the patriot founders were not.

Federalists and Anti-Federalists: Despite us being able to retroactively place founders in groups with accuracy, the  founding fathers and their original two factions were classic liberals (Jefferson and Anti-Federalists) and conservative liberals (Hamilton Federalists), the other factions don’t arise until later in history.

Today’s Democrat is a Social Liberal

Today when we say liberal we mean Democrat, but modern Democrats are only liberal in three ways. 1. the Democratic party originated as the party of Jefferson (a progressive, despite his socially conservative qualities); 2. they aren’t conservative regarding the separation of church and state and other such issues; 3. they hold most of the core liberal values, they just interpret liberty differently than their ancestors and favor a “welfare state.”

Thus, modern Democrats are mostly social liberals, although they are often classically conservative as well. Meanwhile modern Republicans are typically social conservatives and classical liberals. Thus, still today, Americans are generally all types of liberals.

TIP: For more reading see “how to understand the basic political parties.”

Chomsky on Classical Liberalism, Freedom, & Democracy



Conclusion

America’s founding fathers were classic liberals, this means they didn’t want to live under the rule of the King, but rather wanted a secular government by the people, for the people, that promoted liberty.

This should not be confused with modern social liberals, or the modern right-leaning libertarians, both of which grew out of classic liberalism.


Citations

  1. Classical liberalism” Wikipedia.org
  2. Founding Fathers of the United States” Wikipedia.org
  3. Minutes of the Tryon County Committee of Safety” docsouth.UNC.edu
  4. American Revolution
  5. Loyalist (American_Revolution)” Wikipedia.org
  6. THE FOUNDING FATHERS & POLITICAL PARTIES” Shmoop.com
  7. Founding Fathers” Biography.com
  8. Gouverneur Morris, The Constitution and Slavery” Mrsoshouse.com


"America’s Founding Fathers Were Liberals" is tagged with: American Politics, Fathers or Mothers of a Field, Left–right Politics, Liberalism, Liberty, United States of America


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Wastrel on

At that time, the word “liberal” meant “generous” or “suitable for a free man.” The Founding Fathers were liberal in the sense that they were generous to their slaves and treated them well. (Generous to others, as well, one should suppose, but that doesn’t make the point.) 🙂

The word “liberal” did not mean a political orientation until after World War One, and probably was not commonly used until the institution of the social programs to get out of the Great Depression.

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

Thank you for your contribution, but I’ll have to refute this. They called themselves Federalists and Anti-Federalists, loyalists and patriots, tories and whigs, Republicans and Democrats, by any name it is the same.

Take these quotes from Jefferson where the term liberal is used explicitly

I was quite rejoiced, dear Sir, to see that you had health & spirits enough to take part in the late convention of your state for revising it’s constitution, and to bear your share in it’s debates and labors. the amendments of which we have as yet heard prove the advance of liberalism in the intervening period; and encourage a hope that the human mind will some day get back to the freedom it enjoyed 2000 years ago. this country, which has given to the world the example of physical liberty, owes to it that of moral emancipation also, for, as yet, it is but nominal with us. the inquisition of public opinion overwhelms in practice the freedom asserted by the laws in theory. http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/98-01-02-1789

“Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.” –Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824. ME 16:73 http://famguardian.org/Subjects/Politics/thomasjefferson/jeff0800.htm

—— The term liberal wasn’t always used explicitly, and its meaning has changed over time, but the founders were not Kingsmen or loyalists, they were liberals. When the founders split into two factions one was radical liberal and the other conservative liberal. So I get the concept, but the term that comes up after WWI describes social liberalism (like FDR) not classical liberalism like Jefferson or Hamilton. http://factmyth.com/conservatism-vs-liberalism/

C.Smith on

And that’s why “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” is the same tune as “God Save the Queen”, right? You conveniently left out Greco-Roman roots of Republicanism in your rendition of history. Religion is dogma, not theism. Spirituality is not dogma.

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

Thanks for the comments, if we left anything out it was to keep it short. Good factoid about the melody of the two songs.

The founders were mostly Diests, maybe I can expand on the section about church and state a bit.

As for Greco-Roman roots of Republicanism, amen! We talk about it extensively on our website. See:

http://factmyth.com/types-of-governments/
http://factmyth.com/factoids/the-united-states-of-america-is-a-democracy/
http://factmyth.com/why-did-the-founding-fathers-choose-a-republic/
http://factmyth.com/factoids/sparta-was-a-socialist-state/
http://factmyth.com/factoids/athens-had-a-democracy/
http://factmyth.com/patricians-plebeians-optimates-and-populares/

to name a few.

Jim Balter on

“At that time, the word “liberal” meant …”

This page isn’t about what some word meant in 18th century America, but rather whether the Founders were liberals (according to how we use the word now).

jamesofthecommons on

I agree with much of what you have written on this site; that said, your claim as to the founders being ”classical” liberals, as opposed to just simply being liberals, is not at all based upon fact. It would be much more accurate and honest to say that some of the founders were more liberal than others and that even amongst the most liberal of the founders, differing ideas were held as to how best to assure human liberty.
As to the so called, classical liberal founders favoring capitalism; it is important to note that no true liberal would hold the conviction that liberalism should be defined by support for capitalism, and or private property. It is important to note, that no where in the constitution, is capitalism declared to be of fundamental value to the purpose of the founding of the nation, and it is just as important to note, that the constitution allows for government regulation of market activities at both the state and federal level. Not only does the founding documents allow for government regulation of economic activity, said documents make it clear that the needs of the public, are vital enough of an interest, to allow for the legal taking of private property, given that just compensation be given to the property owner. Keep in mind, that the King of England, nor any of the Royal authorities of the old world, were in the habit of taking private property for public use ! Old world loyalty were better known for the enclosures of common lands and then latter, the taking of private property, for their own personal use. In short, our liberal founders, if they are to be considered capitalists at all, certainly can not be considered to be promoters of unregulated, capitalism. This being the case, it is incorrect to say that the founders were classical liberals that were somehow different to modern liberals whom believe that to promote human liberty, capitalism must be regulated by government and shaped in such a way, as to promote the welfare of all Americans and not just the wealthy.

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

Very thoughtful feedback. I find your points compelling, some I agree with outright, some i’ll have to ponder. But I’ll take it all into consideration for updates and clarifications to the page.

One note: I’ll try to use the term “classical liberal economics” when i’m talking about the aspect of classical liberalism which turned away from mercantilism and toward a more free-market as represented by figures like Adam Smith. You are right, certainly, a quick read of the Constitution shows us that the founders weren’t adverse to some amount of regulation and order (less they would have kept the Articles of confederation, not bothered with state law or constitution, and called it a day).

Thanks again for both the kind words and smart feedback. Feedback that makes us have to think and research really helps improve the site over time.

jamesofthecommons on

To be sure, you are probably owed more kind words and less debate. At any rate, thanks for the chance to share my thoughts and thank you also for reading my comment so soon.
For the sake of our imperiled liberalism, and thus any hope for a free society, I believe we must now, more than ever, promote the ideology, spirit of and ultimately the practice of liberalism. Convincing the collective intellect, of our national mind, scared and shaped by cold war and modern corporate propaganda, that to be liberal, is to be patriotic, involves the task of revealing the truth, in modern light, that our nation was born in liberalism and was meant to be a land of liberalism. We will not complete this task, if we, for any reason, disparage modern liberals, liberalism, or mistake for liberalism, the neoliberal dogma, that the so called free market, is the apex and source of human freedom. Any free market that may one day exist, will be but a result of human freedom, not the cause of liberty.
Finally, the tree of liberty must be planted not in the unyielding container of conservatism and thus stunted as bonsai, but rather in the unconfined soil of liberalism and thus allowed to become a great tree, with branches reaching for the even greater sky. Thanks again;

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

Well said. Nice tree of liberty metaphor.

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

To update, after some thought.

I see how the term capitalism can be awkward and not fully correct (especially given some people’s modern understanding of the term)… but here i’m trying to illustrate that the liberals of the American revolution generally favored an individual-driven free-market rather than a state-based or oligarch-based economy.

It isn’t meant to be a comment on them being anti-taxation, or anti-regulation, or not seeing the duty of the state being in the common good (I mean, the fact that some states are named “commonwealth” is a good hint of that).

It is more just a healthy fear of special interests and a respect for individual liberty than any sort of aversion to the common welfare.

Today libertarian-like thinkers act like Barons and oligarchs aren’t a thing and that if anything anti-trust trust busters are bad because, liberty-and-stuff, and that the framers would never dream of using the state for the common good. But this is just modern confusion, doesn’t for me speak to the basic principles of the country, or any historic evidence or texts.

I really just mean, they favored free-market capitalism over mercantilism.

Also, on the semantics about classical liberal. I don’t fully agree, but think your definition:

“It would be much more accurate and honest to say that some of the founders were more liberal than others and that even amongst the most liberal of the founders, differing ideas were held as to how best to assure human liberty.”

…is just as good as any and fits with the overarching narrative. So I want to make sure that is noted. The page could have just as easily been called that. I like the term “classical liberal” because it denotes the difference between the classical liberty-focused kind and the social equality-focused kind… but more-so, I consider liberalism the ideology of liberty AND equality, so more than there are two basic forms, they are all for me liberal. So really, on that part, perhaps it is just somewhat a matter of semantics.

Simon Clute on

I would have to argue that many of them held conservative values such as Thomas Jefferson or James Madison, the author of the Deceleration of Independence and of the bill of rights. Like seriously, for any casual readers reading this who don’t want to pick up a book, listen to Hamilton.

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

Yes, some founders were what today we think of as conservative, but America and the founders were liberal (what we think of as conservative in the west is generally liberal-conservative like Burke; not pro-monarchy classically conservative like Hobbes).

From a simple frame, the federalists were classically conservative and socially liberal, all the anti-federalists were classically liberal and socially conservative. From a more complex frame each party had aspects of the four.

If we use the terms “Conservative” and “Liberal” to mean “like a modern Republican” and “like a modern Democrat” then we can say, in those terms, the founders had aspects of each ideology (plank-by-plank each being more like one major party or another).

The point here is that America is a liberal nation founded on the principles of liberalism rejecting monarchies and embracing democracy.

The Federalists, like Hamilton, wanted a more aristocratic democratic Republic and those like Jefferson wanted a more liberal democratic Republic.

We explain this all in the article, but suffice to say “we Americans are all technically liberals and American is a liberal nation”, right now fascism in its new National Populist right-wing form and Communism in its weakened left-wing populist form are clawing at the edges of global western liberalism.

We must remember what we are defending here and what our founding fathers stood for. We are right-wing conservative liberals and we are left-wing social liberals, and we are centered liberals, and economic liberals, and classical liberals, etc. and we can all be this within the federalist frame of the Republic, but we are not Red Coat Tory Loyalist conservatives and nor were our founders (instead the liberal patriots exiled and otherwise treated them poorly).

We are liberals in the way the Constitution and Bill of Rights are liberal documents. Like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism

Our founders fought for this and it is why we enjoy freedoms today. When a Republican says they are conservative, they are really saying they are “a conservative liberal”, except in rare cases.

This is somewhat semantical, but in classical terms it is provable and undeniable fact.

To your point though, Hamilton was a total neoliberal conservative (very much like a modern establishment Republican or Democrat).

George Gavaras on

Classical Liberalism is a proper subset of Modern Liberalism at the nucleus of both is John Locke’s Liberal Philosophy. Modern Liberalism is simply the concurrent evolution of Liberalism with the evolution of Society and the evolution of the concept of Freedom.

Regarding “Socialist: A rejection of capitalism and liberalism, ideologically and economically in favor of Marx. A Communist is an extreme socialist who doesn’t want any sort of mixed-socioeconomic system.” Nonsense. Socialism has its roots in Communalism which long preceded Marx. Communism and Socialism are in no way synonyms. End State Communism is very Libertarian in charater.

boolin on

Liberal today means something entirely different from what it use to mean. Todays liberals are *mentally challenged* buffoons. They have ruined the word for all eternity.

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

If we take the time to understand the difference between the classical and social forms of liberalism, and then understand how social liberalism embraced progressive policies in terms of pushing for equality on a cultural, social, and political (to some extent) level, you’ll realize what you are saying is “although I am a classical liberal in most cases, I don’t agree in a big government social liberal solution, I am instead more of a social conservative”.

Something like that.

Our founders were all types of liberals, not all were “social liberals”, although some were.

This group includes some you likely identify with like to some degree Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and Morris. If you are against big government solutions, but for liberty and equality otherwise, Jefferson is a great model (but also note that he wasn’t able to really totally avoid “big government” in practice).

http://factmyth.com/understanding-liberalism-and-conservatism/

Jim Balter on

“Liberal today means something entirely different from what it use to mean. Todays liberals are *mentally challenged* buffoons. They have ruined the word for all eternity.”

So you’re a liberal, then?

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

The best way to say this is “the founders were liberals, they were classical liberals concerned first with enlightened liberal values and human rights and a rejection of kings and a love of small r republican and small d democratic values” today many liberals are social liberals who seek a second bill of rights and are progressive.

The far left progressive wing of America is what you are insulting (as is your right). Some of the founders were this type, but generally they were all types of classical liberals.

Add to this the massive propaganda campaign against social liberals and progressives by the right (explained by the conservative colation vs the new deal coalition and “sixth party strategy” that has indoctrinated a generation against progressives, and things get very complex…. but there is still a real conversation in there.

That aside, what I mean here is that the base foundation is liberal, what all American factions essentially use as a foundation (as represented by the constitution and bill of rights) is “liberal” and not loyalist tory conservative. That is empirical fact.

But yes, Liberal meant something a bit different back in 1789 than it does today where we sometimes use “liberal” as a code for Democratic Party (only part of liberal America), far left social liberal progressive, or establishment neoliberal.

If you decide liberal means your cartoon version of social justice warrior, then of course it will be less virtuous, enlightened, and great than i suggest. But this is a difference in what we are truly speaking of. I speak of masters of thought like Locke and Mill, you speak of some guy dressed in black protesting at a trump rally. Of course we are butting heads a bit, we haven’t defined our terms well enough (largely due to modern right wing propaganda corrupting the term “liberal”, but still.)

As for it being a mental illness… that is an opinion based I think on the above and party politics.

My opinion is the true threat to the west is the social conservative neo fascists who support the euro ethnic state spray tan anti-globalization agenda. They are the ones who for me stray the furthest from our enlightened liberal values.

The rhetoric and propaganda are heavy these days, read Machiavelli, Jefferson, Locke, Madison, Rousseau, Hamilton, Montesquieu, Paine. They all agree with me, as we are all of the same cloth, liberal and enlightened (or trying at least to mimic those values). Thus we necessarily stand on the same side…. the side of western liberal republics for the people and against tyranny. I know modern conservatives often do too, but they have been swayed by fascist thought (and fascists hate liberals and western democracy and republicans… so keep that in mind. To be fair; so do far left communists, who we must also stand against and who I assume is what you are really trying to stand against somewhere deep in your logic and heart.

That is my rebuttal, thanks for the comment; all opinions welcome, i am not the final say, although my work is well researched.

If you catch yourself saying “liberalism doesn’t work” and “liberalism is a disease” realize that you share planks with Hitler, Stalin, and Putin. If you say, I love liberalism in its classical form, but stand with mises against big government (or something like that) then we just have to turn to reasoned debate and find a common center for our republic. You are free to take any stance (our liberal bill of rights first amendment rights ensure this), but I suggest you stand with the founders to some degree.

Or stand with Plato, or with Cicero, or consider Machiavelli’s Livy (the republican manifesto where he describes how to create a liberal republic.)

http://factmyth.com/the-new-deal-coalition-and-conservative-coalition/

http://www.constitution.org/mac/disclivy.pdf