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What does Raich mean to the left?

Posted by Richard on June 7, 2005

I liked Radley Balko’s comments on Raich yesterday. Today, he skewers the contemptible reaction (and non-reaction) on the left:

I found it interesting that high-profile leftist blogs like Daily Kos and Eschaton were silent on Raich yesterday. How to explain that the four liberal justices voted with Ashcroft-Gonzalez to give the imprimatur to federal agents raiding nursing homes and rifling through medicine cabinets?

Well, Matthew Yglesias does explain, and frankly, he paints an ugly picture of what liberalism has become. After citing Andrew Sullivan, Yglesias writes:

Well, no, he’s wrong in that he thinks this is a bad thing, but he’s right that the important issue here was the federalism one, not the medical marijuana one. Sympathetic as one might be to the defendants in this case, a victory for their side could have led to very bad consequences down the road. Advocates of marijuana law reform are welcome to press their point of view in congress [sic].

And there it is. The prominent writer for the "moderately liberal" American Prospect would rather let sick people suffer and die and side with giving ever more power to the Bush administration than give an inch toward letting states of localities govern themselves.

This is what liberalism has devolved to. … Its values? Getting power, and wielding power. Letting a few Very Smart People run your life. They may feign at principles like compassion, racial equality, and civil liberties, but should any of those principles hamper the getting of the power, or weaken the wielding of the power once it’s gotten, they’re readily discarded.

I’m a bit surprised, however, that Balko seems surprised. This isn’t a recent "devolvement" of liberalism or leftism. The desire to expand the powers of government, and especially of the federal government, has been the heart and soul of "liberalism" ever since the left hijacked that word from the advocates of liberty, markets, and limited government more than half a century ago. The left is being entirely consistent and predictable here.

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