One of the things I’ve noticed tracking my few conservative and my many Progressive friends over at my “real me” Facebook is the difference in their approach to government. My conservative friends are consistent: They want to confine the federal government to its traditional constitutional boundaries: national security, including managing a standing army; preserving interstate commerce, including maintaining America’s roads and airways; economic dealings with foreign powers; etc. They’re not opposed to a welfare safety net, but believe it should be limited in scope and duration, and that the best safety net is a strong, free-market economy. They heartily approve of immigration, but want it to be legal immigration, not an illegal free-for-all. They support law and order, but not a militarized police force.
These conservatives are appalled by Obama’s lawlessness, as seen in his executive orders seeking to undercut the Second Amendment and his almost-daily ukases changing Obamacare so as to minimize the PR fallout from that misbegotten law. Looking overseas, they support our traditional allies, including beleaguered little Israel, and find shocking Obama’s free-fall into the arms of bad actors such as Iran, Vladimir Putin, the Muslim Brotherhood, Bashir al Assad, the Taliban, etc. When it comes to “women’s issues,” conservatives believe that the U.S. should stay out of women’s uteruses, in that it should stop telling Americans, nuns included, to pay for other women’s birth control and abortions.
They also believe that “global warming” has always been an anti-capitalist hoax meant to slow down Western development and redirect funds to Third World nations that get the Left’s stamp of approval. They accept that climate changes; they just don’t think it’s America’s fault. We are responsible for pollution, and we have a duty to be a good steward for the natural world around us, but our puny efforts are not changing the world. (In that regard, I’ll note that the heat and drought in the south and the snow and cold in the north are nothing new. The papers breathlessly report that they’re the worst in 100 or 1000 years, as if that proves anthropogenic climate change. To me, the comparisons to the same events in the pass simply prove that Mother Nature is fickle and always has been.)
Conservatives support gun rights, not because they’re crazed killers, but because both logic and real world data regularly shows that a free, armed population is the best defense against crime and government overreach. They believe that there’s a reason for the Second Amendment’s explicit language holding that the federal government cannot touch people’s guns.
My Progressive friends present a mirror image, albeit one that fails to be consistent. As far as they’re concerned, the bigger government is, the better. Obamacare is horrible, not because it sees the government take over 1/6 of the economy by trying to control the healthcare market, but because healthcare isn’t fully socialized. They hate Obama’s border policies, not because he’s stopped enforcing immigration laws, but because he hasn’t successfully done away with immigration laws. They think our best national security plan is to intervene only in those countries where America gets no benefit from that intervention; anything else is imperialism.
My Progressive friends fear a free market, because it allows corporations to get bigger, and they all know that the greatest threat to each American’s wealth, health, and happiness is corporations. They think Israel is evil because she refuses to turn her country over to a group of people who make no secret about the fact that their goal is to massacre every Israeli. They support Obama’s foreign policy in other respects simply because it’s oriented away from traditional Western imperialism. It’s irrelevant that these nations engage in their own forms of imperialism, and that they routinely trample on the rights Progressives hold most dear: womyn’s rights, LGBT rights, and, where there are blacks (as in the Sudan) people of color’s rights. To them, global warming is a revealed truth that cannot be questioned and that appropriately seeks to stop the West’s development because, they believe, it harms the Third World. They are unmoved by data showing that ethanol development, by diverting food crops to fuel, is starving the Third World.
And of course, when it comes to guns, Progressives know they’re evil. Data to the contrary is irrelevant. Guns exist only to kill, and their role in preventing or diminishing violent crime, or in protecting people against their own government, is irrelevant. Facts must bow down before ideologically driven fear.
The one tie that binds both conservatives and Progressives on my “real me” Facebook is that they’re both horrified by the scope of the NSA’s spying on American people. Each recognizes that this is a staggering infringement on American freedom. To all of them, the knowledge that Big Brother has been watching them is almost too terrible to contemplate.
Summed up, Progressives believe that there is such a thing as “Big Government Done Right,” while conservatives believe that this is an oxymoron. I side with the conservative view. The very nature of Big Government is abhorrent to individual liberty and free markets.
The fact that history repeatedly shows that freedom drives economic progress and individual liberty, however, never shakes a Leftist’s faith in the theory that there is such a thing as “Big Government Done Right.” My Dad was raised a Communist and eventually ended up as a Reagan Democrat. To his dying day, though, he believed that Communism was the answer. The problem was that it had never been done right, no matter where it was applied. In his heart, the theory lived on. Americans, with their vague feints to Leftism under Carter weren’t doing it right, so Reagan (who was pro-Israel) was a better bet to deal with the misbegotten American system. The Soviet Union wasn’t doing it right, because it relied too much on oppression. Brilliant man though he was, he couldn’t be brought to understand that it’s the nature of the state to oppress. It’s a “bear hug” that, whether aggressive or loving, still smothers you.
Anyway, that’s what I think. Would any of you care to make a counter argument, to the extent that Big Government Done Right isn’t invariably an oxymoron?