Or so I hope.
People are are currently 70 years old are far more liberal on, say, the question of women’s suffrage than were people fifty years their senior. But women’s suffrage is settled fact, and no longer exerts any electoral impact. Several decades from now, we may well be looking at an even more liberal or left-wing social issue landscape.
Good. Social liberalism (by “liberalism” I mean a relaxation of arbitrary constraints backed by force) begets economic liberalism. Without the Enlightenment’s rough scaffold of individual rights, Adam Smith’s formulation of economic freedom would have been stillborn and Thomas Paine would have been dismissed as an iconoclast or reviled (further) as an agent of sedition. Without the suffragist and African-American civil rights movements, Heinlein might have fallen into Hobbesian statism (and if you read some of his earlier “zOMG TEH NUKES!!!11one” works, he came frighteningly close). Without a principled rejection of Nazi-Fascist totalitarianism, Hayek would have been written off (okay, written off further) as a crank.
Economic liberalism is what happens when you think about property rights without being a hypocrite. Property rights are what happen when you think about human rights without being a hypocrite. Rights — I really have to write this up properly some day — are inseparable from responsibilities. (If I have a right to speak freely, that means that you have a responsibility not to interfere in my speech; if I have a right to defend myself, you have a responsibility not to disarm me; and so on down through the Bill of Rights.) The recognition of these rights only makes sense in a profoundly individualist framework, and profound individualism is the limit condition of social liberalism.
I’m given to understand that serious supporters of abortion rights — yes, I’m going there; hear me out and flame me later — approach the issue as a woman’s privacy right to her own body. (As we’ve discussed earlier, privacy is about control.) The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed in Roe v. Wade, but the U.S. Supreme Court is full of shit about a lot of things (as are we all; we’re human, we can’t help it). Take body-privacy rights further (as “the younger generation” is doing by normalizing body-modification practices like tattooing, piercing, cosmetic implants, lap-band surgery and other digestive interventions, and — if Congress will remove the fairy-tale baseball bat from its asshole — anabolic steroid use) and you end up with the surprisingly controversial idea that you own yourself. Didn’t we fight a cataclysmic civil war about slavery? (Blah blah blah states’-rights blah; hear me out and flame me later.) Isn’t self-ownership already assumed?
Hah. Try to sell a kidney — you’ve got two; you only need one — to feed your children and see how far you get.
But what about fifty years from now when the Democrats have nominated a transgendered Presidential candidate?
Funny how he assumes that the Democrats will nominate a transgendered candidate — from where I sit, the Dems are a bunch of homophobic Bismarckian thugs (“we need to throw DADT under the bus to save health care reform!“) while a pair of conservative lawyers are unfucking the Prop-8 mess that Obama left behind in California. (The question of marriage reminds me that social liberty can come from economic liberty: looking at marriage from a contractual point of view would help a lot of people get less scared about teh ghey.) But a lot can happen in fifty years — hell, a lot can happen in ten years.
This is why results like this one fill me with optimism: I’ve never met a party that wasn’t ultimately about pinning the electorate down to a metaphorical bunk, forcing its head into a pillow, and fucking it in the ass until voters tearfully accepted the ideological domination of the party in question. More and more voters are starting to realize that people who would accept dominion over others are the last people who should have it. Can you imagine Lazarus Long running for President?
We’re getting there.
Update: Added a link to single-kidney mortality figures. Turns out they’re pretty much the same as double-kidney mortality figures.