The University of Virginia Professor Jonathan Haidt, in his book, The Righteous Mind, seeks to understand why some people become liberals and others conservatives, and why their moral frameworks are so different. He found that the principles that guide liberals are significantly different from those that guide conservatives, as we all know. He makes the analogy of comparing the brains of women and men, each succumbing to their own physical nature. However, it is those very differences, in physical nature, that continues to attract us to each other, as well as separating us from each other. I wonder if the same is true in politics.
Modern Liberals believe in the supremacy of the state and that an individual's imperfection and personal pursuits impair the objectives of a utopian state. Modern Liberals, therefore, promote what French Historian Alexis de Tocqueville called soft tyranny, which, unfortunately, becomes increasingly more oppressive and often leads to hard tyranny. Syria is a perfect example of Tocqueville’s transition from soft to hard tyranny, where demonstrations became more violent and destructive and the government more oppressive. Occupy Wall Street, but for the fact that it was in the United States, could have resulted in the same experiences as did those in Syria, Libya and Egypt. And there are a multitude of other examples throughout Africa.
Liberals have consistently adopted Keynesian Economic Theory as critical to their beliefs, in Europe and Greece, as well as in American. In keeping with Keynesian theory, their argument is that national prosperity requires that governments manage the macro economy if keeping unemployment and inflation low and growth high is your objective. Conservatives also support low unemployment, low interest rates and high economic growth; however, they do so without the predominance of government. While liberal intentions may be for full employment and high growth, more often than not their policies and regulations result in actions that counter their intentions. When we over-regulate we under-stimulate.
Historically, American conservatives have stood for the Jeffersonian principle that the government, which governs best, governs least. This philosophy guides the Modern-Day Conservative’s opposition to the intrusions of government into private life; civil liberties, free speech or privacy rights. While embracing these principles, the American Conservative has adopted an increasingly wider variety of social, economic, and philosophical issues. Generally and historically, conservatism is regarded as a defender of tradition, of capitalism, and of individual freedom and inalienable human rights. Liberals, by nature, are people who care, predominantly, about the welfare of those who do not or cannot care for themselves. While commendable, inherent in this belief is an unintentional disregard for the detailed logic that extends any analysis to its ultimate conclusion. An example would be the current Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which endeavors to provide healthcare insurance for some 46 million people, who do not have insurance, without regard to the increased cost to the remainder of taxpaying citizens. How could anyone be against providing for those who cannot provide for themselves? However, a large percentage of those who will be provided for are young people (under 26 years of age) who have chosen not to have insurance as a result of their invincible, youthful character, yet the liberal philosophy dictates that it be provided. They are immersed in a compassion that automatically rejects the logic of the situation: pay a small penalty because it is less expensive than buying insurance until they need it (after they get sick). Their position encompasses a total class of people (the uninsured) whether those people need or want insurance, often discounting the financial consequences.
As long as there is a division of wealth, where one class has more than another class, liberals will continue to demonstrate actively and often in support of a sharing of that wealth. They argue that America is the ‘land of opportunity’, which should provide rules and regulations that apply to all citizens, however, should you take advantage of that opportunity, in liberal eyes, you automatically shift out of the ‘middle class’ whose rules of fairness for all no longer apply. The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations were a combination of financially well-off liberals supporting not so financially well-off, philosophically youthful liberals, in hopes of making significant social/economic and political points, while diverting attention from the real political issues. Winston Churchill once said, “ if you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no head.” The underlying philosophy of this statement, I believe, was to highlight the transition of youthful compassion to the practical reality of life as it progresses.
What our forefathers intended as a compromise between liberal and conservative political philosophies, has evolved into extremely non-productive partisan politics. Both liberals and conservatives select facts that promote their own political positions without weighing the totality of the circumstancea, increasing our inability to even evaluate the issues, let alone compromise with one another. Each side countering the other side’s negative advertisements with selected facts that support their position only.
Unemployment, still over 8.2% with the total out-of-work reaching 14.9%, is setting longevity records every day, debt increasing at a rate that even our grandchildren will have difficulty paying down, a devalued dollar consuming retiree benefits faster than the treasury can print their social security checks, an economic growth rate that is almost non-existent are still the major issues of today. Whether you’re a Liberal or a Conservative, a Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Independent, change is necessary when a governing body is not successful. It doesn’t matter who the candidates are this coming November. What matters is that if an administration cannot analyze and identify the causes of our major problems, implement measurable solutions, bring congress and the country together to address those causes, then four more years should not be granted, regardless of party. I have long said and I firmly believe that we have digressed to the point of administering to the symptoms of a condition rather than searching for and correcting the cause of that condition. More government spending addresses the symptom of unemployment and poor economic growth, while ignoring the causes of why our economy has stagnated. It’s like putting more air in a flat tire without fixing the hole.