From a statement of principle by way of contrast, previously posted at FreedomDemocrats.org:
Unlike anarchism, which sees no role for the state, liberalism accepted that there were some situations in which the state had a role to play. But liberalism did not have a strong philosophy explaining when and where this was necessary and when and where an expanded role for the state was unnecessary. Over time, this created a slippery slope in which each new generation adds to the responsibilities of the state and existing programs are not repealed or reformed. (emphasis mine)
Shorter Kevin Drum, this morning w/r/t the individual mandate in health care “reform”, and by extension interpretation of the Commerce Clause: “Gov’t could already do this and pretty much anything else. Example: Wickard v. Filburn, which I will oddly not see the problem with”.
The in-a-nutshell textbook definition of modern liberalism is a philosophy balancing concern for individual non-economic liberties with a certain institutional view of economics that assumes a) the current economy is a state of nature & b) concentrations of economic power can, and must, be checked by political power. The contradictory part of this should be obvious by now, but it at least has something to show for it. However, its in practice definition in the U.S. consists of some hand-waving on questions of state power like the above, some outright dismissing anyone who asks “what can’t they do?” as puppets of corporatism, a few rare true believers (i.e.: some of the crew at FireDogLake, and as far as I can tell Glenn Greenwald) who get slammed as unrealistic on a regular basis, and a leftover mass whose seeming sole unifying trait is “I don’t get it, we keep voting for Democrats & things don’t change, what gives?”.
Out of context, realizing the lack of meaningful barriers would be an accomplishment on Kevin’s part. Shrugging this off as meaningless isn’t useful as a response though.