The Decline of Liberalism
AMERICAN LIBERALISM, synonymous today with big government, the exact opposite of the liberalism of Edmund Burke and other British champions of individual liberty, arose essentially from the use of the state to alleviate the most severe economic inequalities in society. In Great Britain this began in the competition between the Liberal and Conservative leaders, William Ewart Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli, between 1865 and 1880, and among major European powers with the quest for an unthreatening working class with the founder and first chancellor of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck. Britain had a great battle over pensions under the chancellor of the exchequer just before the First World War, David Lloyd George. [...]
It goes on for quite a bit, detailing the history of Classical Liberalism, as it goes through many twists and turns, and eventually becomes something else altogether. History buffs will find it interesting. It explains a lot. It concludes:
[...] Liberalism saved America and led it to its greatest days under Roosevelt and Truman. And it essentially continued under Eisenhower, a nonpartisan war hero who pretended to be above politics. Under Kennedy and Johnson and their inept Democratic successors, liberalism ceased to be perceived as helping the deserving and instead became taking money from those who had earned it and giving it to those who hadn't in exchange for their votes. Nixon saved the country from the Kennedy-Johnson failure to redefine liberalism successfully, but freakishly squandered the political credit for doing so. Reagan won the battle for the conservatives against the liberals, and the Democrats have only won since when they ran an ostensibly moderate candidate against a very weak Republican. (Bob Dole and John McCain, whatever their merits as senators, were hopeless blunderbusses as presidential nominees.)
Liberalism will revive, as conservatism did, when it redefines itself as something that is new, looks likely to succeed, favors economic growth, and is no longer tainted by envy, hypocrisy, and the mere bribery of voting blocs. This will take a leader of the stature of a Roosevelt or Reagan. No such person is now visible, in either party, but neither were they seen in that light before they were elected and became candidates for Mount Rushmore.