Liberalism vs. Conservatism. Which one of these "isms" do you suppose that comprises a true-blue, patriotic American? After the William Jefferson Clinton years, most Conservative Americans have a keen sense of what each one of these terms mean--or at least what the popular political forces of the time sought to have us believe. And, perhaps, just maybe, the definition and description of "Liberalism" that each of us accept today is not what society held in years past. Surely there is a "right" and a "wrong" way to view Liberalism.
Well, imagine this author's amazement concerning the original meaning of the word and movement, commonly referred to as "liberalism," while reading a speech penned by Wendell Willkie, as given to undergraduates at the University of Indiana, Bloomington, Indiana, on May 4th, 1938:
The fact is that the liberal attempts to do the most difficult thing in the world--namely, to strike a true balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of society. He is like a man rowing a boat who when the boat swings to the right, pulls on the left, and when it swings to the left, pulls on the right. Liberalism sticks to the middle of the road, speaks quietly and insists upon the color of no man's shirt. If its voice seems small in the present tumult of shouting--if its ranks seem thinned among the regiment of uniform--let that be a sign to you, who have been educated in its spirit, to recognize the urgency of its cause.Wendell Willkie (1892-1944)
Today, most conservatives view a live, breathing liberal as a whining, tree-hugging, global-thinking (not a good thing) person who has more respect for animals and plant life than their own fellow humankind. According to Willkie's writings of the 1930's, however, this was not always the case.
Perhaps it is best if I allow Wendell Willkie to explain what the original "liberal" stood for--what the first liberal thought and did. Keep in mind that society had just made its way through the Industrial Revolution; a major, global war (World War One); the not-so-Great Depression; as well as a major battle against Big Business and its effort to Monopolize major markets of the day (who said history repeats itself?).
May I introduce Wendell Willkie, former Presidential hopeful in 1940: The True and Rightful Meaning of "Liberalism"
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