A Liberal View

Some years ago I had a neighbor who was a classic modern liberal (a Smith college gal). We were good neighbors to each other: always cordial, even friendly. But political discussions were tough to say the least–she would become very frustrated with my libertarian views and arguments.

It’s notable that we were always respectful when we talked politics–never a raised voice, which is rare today. I suppose it’s that willingness to listen to the other guy that led to a real honesty of views.

Anyway, at some point I asked Jane (not her real name) what she saw as good in our nation. Her answer was enlightening:

“The only real good I see in America is the potential to become a decent nation.”

Now a lot of folks will fall into the puerile statement that we aren’t perfect. That is a trivial axiom–completely meaningless since by definition, nothing can be perfect. But what most liberals who shout that mean is that the US is far less perfect than many other nations. So I asked Jane if she thought that this was the case.

She replied, “I believe many, if not most other nations are morally superior to the US. Even, or rather specifically, socialist and communist countries are superior, though they may be less desirable to live in, because their stated goals are ones with which I identify.”

And there you have it–when the measure is one of intent rather than result, there can be no legitimate argument. It’s a sad situation to me. I’m a pretty strong libertarian, but told one leftie friend that if the early claims about Obamacare were to hold true, I would have to give it my support–pragmatism should override ideology. But I also told him that I had little hope for anything but a disaster in general quality, availability, and cost, all heaped on top of government inefficiency.

Time will tell who is predicting accurately. If the left has called it right–I’ll concede. But if I’ve called it correctly, you can bet the farm my friend will not.

Funny that.

 

Where Did Logic Go?

It’s a wonder to me how people can passionately support something that most of them know doesn’t work. Probably the clearest example is Anthony Lewis, the self declared socialist writer for the New York Times. Lewis’s socialistic fervor dimmed over time as the failures–and horrors–of socialist states became undeniable. But in his last interview before retiring he was asked whether he still supported socialism in general. He replied that he still supported many of it’s aspects and specifically socialized medicine. Quote: “I know it doesn’t work, but I still believe in it.”

We’re in the same “I know it doesn’t work but I still believe in it” world today. The most recent is in the uproar over the killings in Las Vegas. Study after study, many done by ant-gun scientists, show the folly of “gun control.” The regulations do nothing to control criminal behavior (look at Mexico), but they certainly control what law-abiding citizens do, and perhaps that’s what really lies in the hearts of the gun-control crowd–it doesn’t matter if it works; it screws the neighbors they don’t like.

One of the ugliest aspects of the nations under the old Soviet Union was the rise of cynicism and resentment. Many jokes in Russia were about how neighbors would wish ill upon neighbors; jokes are funniest when they ring true. I’m afraid we’re going there as well. Resentment of another person’s well-being is becoming the coin of the realm in our political world, and I suspect the desire to impose laws “on the other guy” that will have none of the benefits touted by the supporters will proliferate.

The Coming Ayers World

Some one I care very much for once told me that she believes conservatives are simply greedy people. No discussion about limits of government would penetrate her shield–if you weren’t a good liberal, you were a bad person. As Bob Beckel would say, “case closed.”

Now this is not a stupid or uneducated person. In fact she has a PhD and tenure at a well respected university. I–being the naive person that I am–assumed that with reasonable debate I could penetrate that attitude. Nope; information and debate were not needed–she knew the way of the world and she had no need for any other views.

I finally did my “Let me get this straight” routine: “You believe that I went from being a good, noble person to a greedy, ugly one in the course of a few months of studying previous economic predictions and measuring them against actual outcomes? You believe that applying a scientific approach to my policy opinions is immoral?”

End of friendship.

Which is becoming more and more common place for me. Few of us are willing to simply engage in a friendly discussion: we are filled with factoids–many of which are either untrue or nearly so–and refuse to engage any logic or reason to our positions. This wasn’t always so. If you watch some older shows, you’ll see civil debates and thoughtful responses. For that matter, watch Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” from 20 years ago–he’s actually fair, and tough on everyone, not juster the Right.

I’ll leave the root cause of the demise of reason and debate to others–I suspect it’s a combination of things that came to us from a coarsening of values and a dumbing down of society, but in any event the Ayers branch of the infantile left has won the day on the cultural side. They haven’t yet carried the field on the political power side and I suspect things will not work out as they envisioned. But we are at that Manichean point that they claim they hate, but in fact support–the Us against Them fight. What’s coming will be ugly.