On Friday I shared with you two reasons why I reject liberalism and progressivism. Because of being a professional historian and a college instructor, I often get comments from liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and others asking how I came to the political ideologies I hold dear. At the heart of my political ideology is the foundation of what those brave men sought – to protect and to preserve individual liberty based on the concepts that all of mankind are created equal and each are entitled, by virtue of their birth, the natural rights as endowed by God. Both concepts are in line with Enlightenment teaching and are enshrined in both the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution of the United States.
Previously I shared how liberalism seeks to reinterpret the past to fit its world view. This has been one of the tenants of the communist revolutions of the twentieth century by Progressives in every nation that endured such revolutions by claiming that history is essentially a class struggle between the proletariat (labor class) and the bourgeois (wealthy). As a part of this reinterpretation of facts, it also seeks groups of people and creates from them “victims” who have been excluded from economic prosperity or acceptance from mainstream society. Within the nature of liberalism and progressivism is the need to play the victim against the oppressor; instead of focusing on the real cause of economic immobility or why certain groups have been excluded, the focus is shifted to those who hold views contrary to the social order that liberals seek to create.
Liberalism seeks to provide equality for all through restraint
This summer I have spent considerable time reading the writings of Voltaire, John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Hobbes, and others, seeking to understand the mindset of the men behind the foundations of the United States. In nearly every writing of the period that I have read so far, one of the common themes is the concept that all men (and in the context they use the term man, they mean mankind or humankind, whichever you prefer) are created equal. King, queen, pauper, preacher, soldier, and prostitute all share a common birth. We are each given special talents and interests that are uniquely ours – just as everyone who has ever been born has. One person may be born with the ability to compose great sonatas, while another may be a master inventor. Some may have a talent for being able to repair nearly everything they come across. The point is we are all born with the potential to aspire to greatness or to settle for just enough to get by. Traditionally, society has rewarded the successful, the hard-working, and the determined and has held in low regard those who simply give up or accept defeat rather than to simply try again.
This whole Enlightenment concept is lost on the liberal who refuses to see that everyone has an equal potential to succeed or fail. Instead, to prevent the painful emotional feelings of failure and inadequacy, they seek to create a society where everyone will have the same outcomes as everyone else – the Communist utopia of a classless society. Instead of recognizing individual achievement we now see great efforts to reward everyone in groups for the simple task of participating. Goals 2000 was one of these programs – it sought to create a learning environment where all students would be brought to the point they could pass a class or grade and with the understanding the class would not advance to learning the next skill set until everyone demonstrated mastery in the current set being taught. Special education students, both the talented/gifted child and the special needs child were dumped into the standard classroom. From my standpoint as a former junior high school teacher and now teaching at a college, this has been disastrous. Each year, I see students who are unable to read and understand a college textbook, write a complete sentence, or even effectively discuss course materials. The high school education of today is far from the standards achieved just twenty years ago; it is not even in the same category as education fifty years ago. This is one of the reasons Silicon Valley seeks educated foreign workers to fill high-tech jobs in the United States.
This desire to create an equal-outcomes society does not end with education. The face of little league community sports has been changing over the past thirty years to the point that every child who participates gets a trophy just for being on the team. Liberals and progressives claimed that by just rewarding those who showed improvement or were considered as a strong player in some aspect of the game actually hurt the feelings of the other players and was actually causing long-term psychological damage and self-esteem issues to those who were not recognized. There are millions of Americans who have played sports and never received a trophy or other recognition. They played for the enjoyment of the game (I played little league ball for years and only received one trophy – most improved batter!). Now there is a debate being waged where various groups are pressuring the Boy Scouts of America to change the requirements for Eagle Scout since the statistics show that only 1 out of every 100 boys ever earn Scouting’s highest rank. Instead of allowing those who have the ability to excel, in each example – academics, sports, and Scouting – restraint is being applied. Don’t be too good, don’t excel too far ahead, don’t seek to go above and beyond because there is no additional reward or recognition for doing so. Liberalism does not support even the concept of individual success; only through equal outcomes can liberalism create equality.
This quest for equal outcomes is not restricted to the sports field, classroom, or campsite. During the 2008 and 2012 elections the nation kept hearing the political class-warfare rhetoric of “somebody’s not paying their fair share…” referring to America’s wealthy. Although the statement is true, there are those who are not paying their fair share, it is certainly not the wealthy in this nation. Even in college history courses, great men and women of wealth are treated as criminals by many college professors and textbooks. Men such as Carnegie, Ford, Swift, and Rockefeller are studied and ridiculed for being wealthy. Even today, we see attacks on the wealthy, often forcing many to support liberal causes rather than face the ridicule of the uninformed voter and the liberal activists who promote class warfare for political gain. We hear about making the tax system in the nation more “progressive” to transfer wealth to the lower classes who have become emboldened by the liberal activists insisting that the wealthy owe it to them because anyone who is wealthy either stole it from the consumer or somehow cheated to get ahead. The lower classes have bought into the lie of a minimum wage that can sustain them and their families while forgetting the lessons that our economy constantly teaches – if you want true economic mobility and the potential to grow wealth, there’s no such thing as a 40 hour work week.
Liberalism sacrifices the rights of the individual
Of all the issues considered during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the delegates from the thirteen colonies considered the rights of the individual citizen as having the most importance. Not only did they use Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence as inspiration, but the writings of Hobbs, Locke, Voltaire, Smith, Paine, and others were not only well-known to them but had also been in widely circulated within the thirteen states. There was a great resistance to by many that attended the Convention to include a Bill of Rights for one simple reason – if the government ever defined those rights, then the government could not only change the definition of those rights, but could also regulate those rights. In the end, the states of New York and Virginia, the two largest by population, would win out and a Bill of Rights was added.