As some of you may be aware, I had the opportunity to moderate the final Republican U.S. Senate debate primary, hosted by the very impartial and nonpartisan Indiana Debate Commission. There was a little bit of “controversy” going into the debate, because I was accused by one of the candidates—who originally declined to participate in the debate and later changed his mind—that I am a liberal and an untrustworthy conservative.
I told myself there was no point in getting into a back-and-forth with that candidate, because if it came down to a battle of wits, I would have to tie seventh-eighths of my brain behind my back to make it a fair fight. However, I did give that candidate an opportunity to come on my weekend radio show so we could clear the air, but he never got back to me. What I am going to do however is make a confession: Yes, I am a liberal, in the classic sense of the term.
According to the Mises Institute, classical liberalism is defined as “a term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade.” And that is pretty much me.
I believe free markets and capitalism can do more to lift people out of poverty than any government program ever could. I believe people should be allowed to engage in free-spirited debate and practice their religious beliefs without fear of government retribution. And I believe when countries engage in free trade, they are less likely to go to war with their business partners.
Of course, all this doesn’t take place in a wild, wild west environment. We need the rule of law to make sure people behave. Government should act more like a baseball umpire; call the balls and strikes and occasionally throw players out of the game, but otherwise, let them play and may the best team win. Government is not here to ensure your success in this world.
If I may steal from a section of Wikipedia (I did double check the source), as a classic liberal, I also believe government should do most the following:
Protect individual rights and provide services that cannot be provided in a free market.
Provide a common national defense to provide protection against foreign invaders.
Make laws to provide protection for citizens from wrongs committed against them by other citizens, which included protection of private property, enforcement of contracts and common law.
Build and maintain public institutions.
Engage in public works that include maintaining a stable currency, standard weights and measures, and roads, canals, harbors, railways, communications and postal services.
I would also throw in a few other items, such as educational opportunities via universal school choice and vouchers. And when it comes to reproductive choice issues, I believe those decisions are much better made by individuals rather than the government.
So, if the belief by certain campaigns is that I am a liberal, they are absolutely right. As someone who believes in free markets, free trade, school choice, etc., I am the biggest liberal in the universe, in the classic sense of the word.
And as we all know, classic never goes out of style.•
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Shabazz is an attorney, radio talk show host and political commentator, college professor and stand-up comedian. Send comments to [email protected]