Not since the advent of the "Common Man" has there been a political catchword that con compare in ambiguous anonymity with the nebulous, oft praised, oft maligned, but seldom defined character-the American Liberal. At different times and in different countries the term "liberal" has connected almost every conceivable shade of political opinion. But regardless of its etymological history, the word can be properly applied to a definite American political philosophy. Although it has been bandied about with an appalling lack of discrimination, it is, in this year of our Lord, 1946, a satisfactory label for a certain group of Americans who convictions place them somewhat left of center.
A Liberal id not to be distinguished by his party affiliations. More than likely he will be registered as a Democrat, but that is a rule so often violated as to lose all validity. Neither con a person's views on foreign policy be used as an adequate test of his right to be called a Liberal. Most Liberals are strong supporters of the U. N.; many of them over an even more powerful would organization. But some of the ablest advocates of the U. N. are men who can by no stretch of the imagination described as liberal. a Liberal will probably approve of action against Franco and Peren; he will probably favor a friendly and reasonably attitude toward Russia, multilateral control of atomic power, world wide cooperation on economic problems, a system of world trade loss impeded by national restrictions, and extensive aid by the United States in rebuilding the war-blasted countries of the world. But these specific beliefs do not constitute the ultimate test.
The basic philosophy of Liberalism id founded on humanitarian and to a lesser extent on economic principles. Its aim is to secure for all Americans, and eventually for all peoples, the highest possible standard of living-which is well above the one which new prevails. Furthermore, Liberalism unlike pragmatic Communism so opposed the scarifying any of our political or civil rights in order to obtain economic benefits. The fight for personal liberty was largely won in the nineteenth century; and while Liberalism is committed to the preservation of classic freedoms-freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of worship, it has shifted its emphasis to social objectives.
Liberals are distinguished from the numberless others who would like an improved level of existence for our nation by their belief that such a goal con be attained only buy positive action of the part of the Federal Government. Economic life has become too complex and too impersonal for attempts at improvement by lesser agencies to be effective. The precise extent of governmental control over economic activities id a matter for dispute even among Liberals, but the median of their beliefs would probably lie close to mild Socialism, encompassing supervision of essential industry, utilities, and basic resources.
In order to keep government control to its necessary minimum, a Liberal favors cooperation and collective bargaining between industry and organized labor. He is a defender of labor's right to strike and to do anything lawful to enable it to meet industry on equal terms; but hr opposes "racketeering" and greedy, short sighted practices by either unions or employers.
Another key tenet of the Liberal's code is his adherence to the spirit of the Constitutional amendments which prohibit discrimination because of race or color. All citizens are entitled to the same rights and freedoms, to the same opportunities. And they are entitled to a governmental policy which will guarantee that the abundant resources and talent with which this nation is blessed will be used so as to bring the greatest benefits to the greatest number of Americans.