Mazzuca: Liberal or leftist? It’s an interesting comparison (column) |

Mazzuca: Liberal or leftist? It’s an interesting comparison (column)

Butch Mazzuca
Valley Voices

Editor’s note: Find a cited version of this column at

Politically speaking, I identify as a conservative/libertarian. I believe Roe v. Wade is settled law, that gender shouldn’t factor into things like compensation (assuming all else is equal) and that we must be responsible custodians of the planet. And if truth be told, my personal ideology, with notable exception to the degree government plays a role in our lives, is mostly in agreement with classic liberalism.

So when did “liberalism” make its hard left turn? I can only speculate, but I thought it might be interesting to look at the differences between classic liberalism and “leftism.”

Classical liberals in the mold of John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt celebrated the West’s moral, philosophical, artistic, musical and literary achievements and understood the need to protect Western culture and civilization. Leftists, on the other hand, view Western culture as a euphemism for white supremacy.

A basic tenet of classic liberalism is the notion of “While I wholly disapprove of what you say, I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” But today, we find the first widespread suppression of free speech in American history. Leftists dissemble and claim they are only against hate speech, but their definition of hate speech seems to include anything they disagree with, as evinced by the Antifa movement.

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It would be laughable if the situation weren’t so serious because while Antifa claims to be anti-fascist, their methods and tactics (harassing those with whom they disagree while engaging in violent protests, which have included property damage and physical violence) are identical to those of last century’s brown shirts in Germany.

Liberals celebrate America — they realize we are an imperfect people but believe as Abraham Lincoln did that “America is the last best hope of earth.” And we need look no further than the culture of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s and then compare it to today.

For example, Hollywood has always tilted left, but Tinsel Town of old gave us Charlton Heston, Tony Curtis, Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, Rock Hudson, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable and dozens of others who served in our armed forces and consistently incorporated the notion of “truth, justice and the American way” into its entertainment venues.

Today, Hollywood considers it chic to portray America as a racist, sexist, homophobic and imperialistic nation.

Liberals like JFK and FDR believed in the nation state and in protecting our borders, whereas leftists see themselves as citizens of the world, advocate for open borders and view patriotic nationalism as the road to fascism.

True liberals understand that free enterprise and robust capitalism are the only way to lift the masses from poverty; whereas leftists oppose capitalism and advocate for socialism. As an aside, does anyone else find it curious that it’s those who have never lived under socialism and “enjoyed all its benefits” (see Venezuela) are the only ones who seem to embrace it?

Liberals believe in racial integration, that we are all created equal and the color of a person’s skin is insignificant. Whereas leftists feel the opposite; and to use just one example, they divide along racial lines whenever possible with such notions as safe spaces on college campuses for specific minority groups only — no whites allowed.

Leftists hold a worldview that racist, white Christian fundamentalists came here from Europe, committed genocide against Native Americans, enslaved and segregated black people, denied women, gays and other minorities their rights and used capitalism and a rigged legal system to oppress poor people for centuries.

Meanwhile, true liberals realize the Founders, while imperfect, were visionaries who made hard choices and compromises to give us the system of government we have today. And while they could not eliminate all of the inequities of their time, they provided us with the tools (our Constitutional form of government) to redress these issues.

Liberal or leftist … it’s an interesting comparison.

Quote of the day: “The struggle for freedom is ultimately not resistance to autocrats or oligarchs, but resistance to the despotism of public opinion.” — Ludwig von Mises

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at

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