The vile person shall no more be called liberal.

--Isaiah 32:5

In a recent campaign speech, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan expressed dismay about the attitude of conservatives in America these days, noting that many "are profoundly hostile to our institutions" and "want to dismantle them," whereas "a proper conservative is very careful about institutions and wants to conserve them."

Moynihan is not alone in his concern. Since the election of Ronald Reagan, people who consider themselves "liberals" have increasingly taken to lecturing those who consider themselves "conservatives" about how the latter don't live up to a true definition of conservatism. The essence of these lectures, of course, is that in order to be a genuine conservative, it is necessary to be a liberal, but the debate has little to do with tax cuts, budget deficits or higher defense spending.

Despite how liberals will tell you these are the really important issues and that we should not divert our attention from them for trivialities, it is the "social issues"--prayer in the schools, attempts to limit the imperial judiciary and, especially, abortion--that cause New York's senior senator to be screaming apocalypse, and that have caused a lot of leftists to discover patriotism for the first time in two decades. It is not the institutions per se that these people worry about; it is the legacy of post-war liberalism that they rightly see under seige, and wrongly consider somehow sewn into the flag.

In his latest book, "America in Search of Itself: The Making of the Presidency 1956-1980," Theodore H. White characterized the attitude of the postwar Supreme Court as--"We know what is right, so why not say the Constitution mandates it." Indeed, the Constitution not only has nothing in it that prohibits school prayer; its framers openly proclaimed that prayer and dependence on God were fundamental to the proper functioning of a republic and, thus, one can assume, its institutions. Not only is there no mention of abortion as an "institutional" right; there is a specific declaration that along with liberty and the pursuit of happiness, among those rights fundamental to a free society is "the right to life."

These rights were withdrawn by virtual imperial decree, "raw judicial power," as Justice Byron White called it. Among the results have been a skyrocketing crime rate, an immensely profitable abortion industry that takes close to 2 million lives a year, a pornography industry that nets over $5 billion annually (a billion of that on child pornography and another billion on sado- masochism), a teen-age pregnancy epidemic, rampant child abuse, a situation in which rape is as common now as abortion, more than one of every 10 Americans is afflicted with an incurable venereal disease and one of every two marriages ends in divorce. And the list goes on.

So where were Moynihan and his friends when the Supreme Court invented the abortion industry? Why were there no oratorical flourishes back then?

Well, these "liberals," if they were not silent, were enthusiastically defending as "progressive" the very assaults that have destroyed those institutions. It is only now, as Americans begin to rise up in opposition both to bureaucratic domination and judicial fascism, that Moynihan and company begin to feel threatened. For "conservatives" are not seeking to dismantle institutions; rather, they are seeking to make them responsive once again to the social will. That may be a radical response, as the liberals suggest, but modern history reveals that that is the way people respond to tyranny.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that their concern for a definition of "proper conservatism" is little more than semantic ballet, these gentlemen may have a point. Their hope, alas, is the hope of a tyrant: they take it as a given that "liberals" are pro-abortion and, since abortion has now been institutionalized, "conservatives" ought to defend it as well so that nobody who opposes it should even be given a public hearing. But the fact is that the "social issues" are not conservative by nature--if anything, it is the liberals who ought to be defending them.

"It is the position of liberalism," according to the Lutheran pastor Richard Neuhaus (who was a leading figure in both the anti-war movement and the presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy), "to expand rather than contract the circle of human life for which we accept responsibility."

With that in mind, perhaps it is time for conservatives to start playing the same game by excommunicating liberals. Since I have never considered myself much of a conservative on most issues, it is possible I don't qualify for this game, but allow me to try my hand all the same.

Anybody who is not a leader in the fight against the vicious exploitation of women that is the pornography industry, who is not defending parental rights from the massive assaults by the multinational contraceptive complex, who does not seek to curb the anti-democratic usurpation of power by the nation's courts, or who is not actively seeking to protect our youth from the ravages of venereal disease--shall no more be called liberal. And all those who express concern for the poor, but who refuse to stand up for the rights of our most vulnerable citizens, the unborn (not to say the handicapped, like the one who was for all intents and purposes murdered by judicial decree in Indiana), shall be known as liars and hypocrites.

Yes, such people shall be considered the friends of terrorists and the enemies of institutions, and we shall all join with the anti-war Isaiah in refusing any longer to let the vile person be called liberal. That way, conservatives may find some institutions worth defending again, and liberals may relearn compassion for the disinherited instead of a pathetic enthusiasm for the latest fads, no matter how comprehensive their brutality.