An outstanding example of the blind leading the blind came through comments made at the meeting of Louisiana Democrats’ State Central Committee meeting, and explains why the party will continue to lose power in the state.
American parties being catchall institutions, some involved place little emphasis on ideology. But for those activists for whom ideology is important, it’s hard not to grab each, shake him into consciousness, rap them on the forehead with knuckles while saying, “Knock, knock, anybody home? It’s the ideology!” to explain why the party is in decline. If pressed for elucidation, tell the befuddled liberal that intellectual exercise combined with review of fact and history show the invalidity of liberalism as describing how the world really works. Rational thinking and observation show the tenets of conservatism show better understanding of the human condition, and thereby comport to reality.
However, the problem for those partisans who still maintain faith in liberalism is denial if not self-deception, if not about their own creed then concerning the principles of conservatism.
Witness the statement of one of its legislative leaders, state Sen. Karen Peterson, who errantly declared about her party’s candidates and their Republican opponents, “we have candidates who are Democrats espousing opportunity, equity, fairness and justice. You are not going to hear the other party talk about those things because it is not in their heart.”
Not all Democrats are liberals and especially not all Republicans are conservatives, but it’s fairly obvious to see that if we accept the premise Democrats generally support liberal public policy and Republicans generally support conservative public policy, then Peterson got it exactly backwards. Let’s see using her articulated qualities in turn.
Rather than espouse opportunity, liberalism has fought to restrict it for some using government power at every turn. Whether it be inappropriate interfering with the free market or in the restriction of the intellectual marketplace such as by limiting free speech in campaigns, over the airwaves, and in more subtle, informal ways outside of government such as through media and educational institutions, liberalism seeks to empower certain groups and interests over others, not on the basis of merit, but through political power.
Often the justification for doing this comes out of an appeal for equity, on the basis of some imagined conspiracy or rhetorically manufactured flaw in economic and social systems. In fact, liberalism’s approach serves merely as a tool for oppression, as resources rightfully earned both tangible and intangible forcibly are redistributed, privileging allied groups over others and thereby creating inequity.
Thus, there’s no fairness about this at all. Rather than desert and merit governing the resources and rights people have, liberalism gives primacy to fiat proclaimed by government to determine these distributions, violating the standard that resources should go not to those with the most power, but on the basis of their relative contributions to society as a whole.
Meaning, then, justice is lacking. As defined by Aristotle, justice involves equals being treated equally and unequals unequally. As liberalism seeks to subvert this balance, it does not produce justice.
By contrast, applying conservatism to public policy produces all of these qualities. It argues that one of government’s few tasks is to keep the playing field level and the rules fair to allow merit to determine desert in the distribution of resources. With markets left undistorted except to provide for a basic equity (adequate defense, infrastructure, etc. and a basic survival amount of resources to all free and responsible individuals), this prevents rigging to determine outcomes and makes society optimally benefit by distributing resources on the basis of meritorious performance on behalf of society. This creates both fair and just outcomes. By definition, conservatism embraces all of opportunity, equity, fairness, and justice, and Republican candidates would be smart to articulate conservatism to help them win their contests.
If Peterson was kidding herself or clearly deluded with her general statement, party chairman Buddy Leach took that to the specific when he laughably claimed “The Democratic Party is the only ... party that represents the middle class.” That demonstrably is not so when we consider that the middle class is least able to defend itself against the takings of government fondly sought by Democrats enthralled by liberalism to shower upon its elect and anointed special interests of various kinds.
So you have to laugh when the likes of Peterson and Leach boldly go onward through the fog to assert the party’s difficulties encompass nothing more than a “branding” problem. In fact, it is their illustrative inability of the party as a whole to comprehend reality – that its liberals are on the losing side of the battle of ideas in public policy. Explaining better something that is defective is no way to change the hearts and minds of an electorate that increasingly sees their party as an emperor having no clothes. Unless you want them to keep losing, do your liberal Democrat activists a favor and shake them, knock and get their attention, and tell them it’s their inability to understand that it’s their ideology that has caused their crisis of electability.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:35