Quote of the Day
It’s darkly amusing to watch them fumble across this new, less slanted landscape, shrieking the devil words they think will scare voters out of questioning them. If you look beyond the squalid little insinuations about swastikas and un-American fifth columns, even the less hysterical challenges to the legitimacy of their opponents are revealing. The accusation that people asking questions at town hall meetings are paid operatives of the insurance companies supposes the superior virtue of politicians to private industry. When Obama’s political staff sends out marching orders to supporters, along with scripts for how to look credible and concerned while advocating state-run health care, it is considered to be noble “community organizing.” If insurance companies were to assist with any kind of organized resistance to Obama’s agenda, it would be denounced as sleazy and sinister.
To appreciate this mindset, you must embrace the central tenet of socialism: the State is caring, compassionate, and wise, far beyond the vile and money-grubbing businessmen of the private sector. The insurance industry couldn’t possibly know anything useful about insuring people, could it? Of course not. Only their greed prevents them from showering Americans with cheap, universal coverage. The same dynamic is at play when liberals sneer at the idea of allowing energy companies to have any say in energy policy. It’s also why the Left loves to extol the virtues of “working Americans,” while offering only hatred to the business owners who employ them, and arrogant contempt for the consumerist culture that purchases the products they create. On any given topic, the only legitimate voices belong to politicians and their supporters. Businessmen are expected to sit quietly in their cells and await judgment. — “Doctor Zero”
And this seems an appropriate place to repeat a couple of quotes from Jonah Goldberg’s best-seller, Liberal Fascism:
Progressivism, liberalism, or whatever you want to call it has become an ideology of power. So long as liberals hold it, principles don’t matter. It also highlights the real fascist legacy of World War I and the New Deal: the notion that government action in the name of “good things” under the direction of “our people” is always and everywhere justified. Dissent by the right people is the highest form of patriotism. Dissent by the wrong people is troubling evidence of incipient fascism. The anti-dogmatism that progressives and fascists alike inherited from Pragmatism made the motives of the activist the only criteria for judging the legitimacy of action.
This has been the liberal enterprise ever since: to transform a democratic republic into an enormous tribal community, to give every member of society from Key West, Florida, to Fairbanks, Alaska, that same sense of belonging – “we’re all in it together!” – that we allegedly feel in a close-knit community. The yearning for community is deep and human and decent. But these yearnings are often misplaced when channeled through the federal government and imposed across a diverse nation with a republican constitution. This was the debate at the heart of the Constitutional Convention and one that the progressives sought to settle permanently in their favor. The government cannot love you, and any politics that works on a different assumption is destined for no good. And yet ever since the New Deal, liberals have been unable to shake this fundamental dogma that the state can be the instrument for a politics of meaning that transforms the entire nation into a village.
All public policy issues ultimately boil down to one thing: Locke versus Rousseau. The individual comes first, the government is merely an association protecting your interests, and it’s transactional, versus the general will, the collective, the group is more important than the individual. Everything boils down to that eventually. And the problem with “compassionate conservatism” is the same problem with social gospelism, with Progressivism and all the rest: it works on the assumption that the government can love you. The government can’t love you. The government is not your mommy and it’s not your daddy, and any system that is based on those assumptions will eventually lead to folly.