Anyone who pays much attention to American cultural and political dialogue will gather that those identifying themselves as liberals or progressives see themselves as humanitarians. They appeal to ideals of social advancement, inclusion and justice. Their rhetoric sounds compassionate. They advocate for equality, fairness, and an end to exploitation, greed and oppression.
So why do they meet such resistance from conservatives? To understand this, we must remember that good intentions often give way to undesirable results. Or, as Daniel Webster observed, "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
Since true intent is invisible and no one can know the heart of another, it is both prudent and fair to judge the validity of all social and political initiatives on the objective merits of their results rather than on their professed motives alone.
To do this, we must first consider the means by which most liberal and progressive schemes are carried out. Historically, most such proposals have resulted in new laws, regulations, statutes and court rulings. This means that the vast majority of “compassionate” endeavors initiated by liberals and progressives are imposed by force.
This paradox leads one to ask; if something is so wonderful; if it is so urgent, so necessary, so universally beneficial, morally right, just and prudent; why must people be forced to support it?
The answer to this question is worthy of a whole volume of psychological and sociological analysis in itself; but the paradox exposes a tragic incongruity in leftist ideology. This racket demands that rational, freedom-loving observers ask if any purpose is so important that it is worth violating the liberties of millions. The great Albert Schweitzer answered this when he observed, “Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose.”
If liberals and progressives restricted their efforts to public advocacy, privately funded advertising, foundations, and other means of friendly persuasion then most, if not all conservatives would likely support many of their ideas. But since they generally take one approach – that of imposing their agenda on the general public by government mandate – then their good intentions and “humanitarianism” is lost in the debate over the risky expansion of government power, cost and scope.
It seems that the vast majority of liberals and progressives are either confused, ill-informed, naïve or just plain ambivalent to the fact that governments are the single most destructive and deadly entities to have ever existed; and that no government ever peacefully relinquishes any power it has obtained.
They ignore what George Washington understood all too well when he observed, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master,” or they discount what millions of Chinese learned the hard way from Mao Zedong; that “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
Considering these chilling reminders, it is obtuse to assume that those who seek to expand government power – regardless of the purpose – will not meet stiff resistance from those with a more sober grasp of the ultimate consequences of such efforts.
So when leftist demagogues claim that conservative Americans are “waging a war on women” because they expect the government to respect the constitutionally guaranteed right to life for all people including those in the womb – or when they claim that there is a “war on equal rights for homosexuals” because some believe that the government should honor the definition of marriage held by the vast majority of Americans – or when they claim that conservatives are determined to cast the sick and elderly into the street because they propose the necessary and urgent elimination of unsustainable entitlements – they are really acknowledging how little serious consideration they have committed to their ideas.
When one contemplates the results of so called “social justice” programs such as bigger government, higher taxes, less economic growth and greater invasion into the private affairs of citizens – all of which result in less freedom, lower standards of living and shrinking possibilities for all; it becomes impossible to apply the term “humanitarian” to anyone advocating such policies.
But like the kid who breaks his mother’s favorite lamp playing ball in the house, and then blames his innocent brother for the crime; liberals and progressives are masters of false accusations and hypocrisy. The costs to us all for their character flaws are the corruption of those who adhere to their ideals and the character assassination of those who are brave enough to stand against their reckless agenda and oppressive tactics.
Just as the strict parent often is despised by surly teenagers while the permissive parent is favored, so liberals and progressives garner kudos and popularity for debauching the nation while conservatives are defamed and ridiculed for securing our liberties and a future of prosperity, peace and social contentment.
Only we can decide whether this irony will stand.