Well Ann is rarely wrong but Neo-neocon points out that the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill was not strictly a liberal cause. There had been some pretty egregious abuse of the involuntary commitment process in the past and this ultimately led to multiple groups agreeing to end this policy for their own reasons.
Ann Coulter is not entirely correct about deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill having been a liberal movement. Sure, liberals have defended it and pushed it, but originally it was libertarians who spearheaded the movement. Then their ideas were taken up by the left. So it was a fusion of the two groups, even though otherwise they may be at loggerheads (similar fusions have occurred with the movement to legalize marijuana, just to take one example).The grand-daddy of the movement to “liberate” the mentally ill was Dr. Thomas Szasz, who was a fervent libertarian (he did not believe there was such a thing as “mental illness” ). See this article for more:
Actually, this isn’t entirely accurate, either.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the reduction of
funding for social welfare policies during the 1980s is the
result of a conservative backlash against the welfare
state. With such a backlash, it should be expected that
changes in the policies toward involuntary commitment of the
mentally ill reflect a generally conservative approach to
social policy more generally. In this case, however, the
complex of social forces that lead to less restrictive
guidelines for involuntary commitment are not the result of
conservative politics per se, but rather a coalition of
fiscal conservatives, law and order Republicans, relatives
of mentally ill patients, and the practitioners working with
those patients. Combined with a sharp rise in homelessness
during the 1980s, Ronald Reagan pursued a policy toward the
treatment of mental illness that satisfied special interest
groups and the demands of the business community, but failed
to address the issue: the treatment of mental illness
It was an unholy alliance of cost-cutting conservatives, civil rights liberals, and libertarians who came together to close our formal mental hospitals and replace them with the streets and sidewalks of every major city in America.