If you were to ask any liberal today what America should aspire to and their vision of the future, they would likely extol the virtues of more equality, more diversity, and more democracy. We know this because their policy positions and their prescriptions all point towards these ends. Equality, diversity and democracy are the holy trinity of the Left. Doing a single article on all three would not being poetic justice to the subject, so this will be a 3-part series starting with equality.
But first, a caveat. In a broad sense, it is quite possible that liberals and conservatives do not have a vast difference in motives. We both want to be healthy and happy. The differences lie in how we get there. Liberals, by and large, are more knee-jerky. They cannot resist the temptation to “do something” in reaction to some perceived wrong. The current debate over gun control in the wake of the Parkland shooting is a perfect example. We saw the same reactions after Sandy Hook Elementary, San Bernardino, and the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shootings. And one can be fairly certain we will see it again after the inevitable next school massacre.
Liberals accuse conservatives of being against change. That is false. In order for change to be relevant, a definite need for change must be demonstrated. Second, one has to prove that the prescribed change would result in improvement. Assuming the first element can be proven, the Left’s ideas via government interventions have been proven as failures. Are we to trust a government that cannot even responsibly steward our tax dollars? And here lies a major difference between conservatives and liberals when it comes to the subject of equality. Simply, the Left believes in equality of outcomes while the Right believes in equality of opportunity.
Nowhere is this more glaring than when it comes to minority “rights.” While we on the Right believe in a certain equality before God and under the law, we do not believe that actual, real inequalities in achievement, social status, wealth are necessarily suspect. In fact, it is quite the opposite where in a free society, individuals are free to pursue their dreams and left alone to act on a diverse set of talents and interests. The Left on the other hand view any inequality as suspect and then propose some government intervention to fix the perceived inequality. They have started down that path to unlimited government.
This observation is not even new. Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America noted that any government or people dedicated to equality will never be satisfied with existing social conditions. As each inequality is stripped away, the remaining ones become more glaring which then demands another government response in a never-ending merry-go-round of oppressed people. Feminism has transformed into gay rights which has transformed into rights of transgender people which will transform into God knows what is next.
A perfect illustration of this liberal propensity towards equality was evident over Obamacare. Their main argument was indignation over inequalities in access to health care. It was the same arguments we heard when previous “inequalities” were addressed by government be it in education which has cost the country billions without a tangible result, public welfare which has devastated the families of those it intended to help without ameliorating the problem of poverty, and the list can go on. They could not frame Obamacare as a societal improvement no matter how hard they tried because silly things called facts often refuted their arguments there. Instead, they had to fall back on perceived injustices. Obamacare was never intended to do what the spin doctors on the Left said; it was a first step towards single-payer universal health care.
To the Left, if one group is doing good and another is doing not so good the automatic reaction is that the thriving group must have done something to victimize the others. The drive towards equality demands victims and it is why the Left creates victims where no victimization has occurred. This war on inequality is a convenient smokescreen for Leftist tyrannical power. It creates an unlimited mandate to end perceived evils which cannot ever be achieved because not all humans and- dare I say- not all cultures are equal. Even individuals do not have equal desires, wants and needs.
In effect, the “war on inequality” that motivates the Left stirs people up towards discontent trying to convince them that their current lives are not good enough and there is more free money around the corner. And who does not like the prospect of free money? Except that money is not free and comes with a more important price- that of personal liberty. It is why years and years and billion upon billions of dollars spent on the War on Poverty through a plethora of government programs has not alleviated poverty in America. Instead, it has chained its recipients to the yoke of government.
One of the most racist beliefs of the Left, in my opinion, is their opposition to school choice and vouchers towards those ends. Their solution is more money for failing schools in a futile attempt at improvement. On the opposite side, conservatives would like to break the chains of bondage between students and parents and failing public schools. Why? Because the Left needs a victim and struggling inner city, minority dominated failing public school students make a perfect victim. They are also the perfect conduit to extract more and more money while creating a more intrusive government role in education.
And the Left’s war on inequality works better in a mixed-race society as in the United States. They tell the supposed oppressed group that they have the opportunity to exploit. If we want to be serious about equality, empirical facts dictate the fallacy of the Left’s arguments and nowhere is that more glaring than with blacks.
Contrary to popular belief, black economic progress did not start in the 1960’s with Johnson’s war on poverty or passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In twenty short years without these laws or programs, the poverty rate fell among blacks from 87% in 1940 to 47% in 1960. There is other evidence that shows that blacks were empirically improving absent these laws. From 1960 to 1980, the black poverty rate fell another 18% to 29%. This was a continuation of the trends before enactment of these laws and programs, but at a much slower rate (40% compared to 18%). In fact, we can say that these programs retarded the positive trends.
The unintended consequences of these programs designed to end inequality have been disastrous. In 1960, the homicide rate among blacks was half of what it was in 1980. The number of unwed, single-parent black mothers is another data point as well as the genocidal abortion rate among black women. Public housing used to be clean and safe and although they could not afford air conditioning, for example, they could safely sleep outside at night. But then government, in a bout of non-judgmental egalitarianism, lowered the standards and we see the result in today’s crime and drug-infested public housing projects. Incidentally, Great Britain has seen the same absent a “legacy of slavery.”
The improvements were arrested by the Leftist solutions to a perceived problem which created an atmosphere of victimhood causing the expectations of blacks to fall. Why try when there was the lure of free dollars around the corner? Booker T. Washington, a former slave, would be ashamed of blacks today. In 1900, DuBois lamented the fact that 25% of black births were out of wedlock (compared to 2% among whites in 1900) and only 50% adhered to monogamous sexual mores (compared to 90% of whites). He argued that the black churches and ministers were failing in their job of teaching morality soul by soul, or individually. Instead, today’s black churches have become themselves political pawns under the Svengali gaze of the Left.
What both Washington and Du Bois noted was that for any group to prevail, it must be self-reliant and it must adopt the cultural attitudes that allow it to succeed. Good behavior is rewarded and bad behavior punished. Unfortunately, by scapegoating those who came before who laid the seeds for self-improvement whether individually or as a group, the Left has created a large disservice to those they pretend to help. Agency and self-reliance have been stripped from these minority groups all in the name of equality.
In only two areas should Americans be acknowledged as equal: before God and before the law. And while our Founding Fathers may have spoken of equality, it is not the equality envisioned by today’s Left. Instead, it was natural equality which is distinct and different from human/government-enforced equality. When Jefferson said “all men are created equal,” he meant just that: as persons created in God’s image we have inherent dignity and value which is decidedly different from empirical inequalities. In other words, we are unequal in ability and are and should be equal under the law which meant no one was excluded from due process and fair treatment at a trial.
And this is a big difference between liberals and conservatives: conservatism is not an ideology, but more like customs and conserving the best of the customs that got us to where we are today in America. It cannot be summarized into easy bullet points like Leftist wish lists. Leftism has one major credo: the belief in human equality which is nice way of saying no one can ever be wrong since that “no one” is another’s equal. It puts the sensible decisions and policies on the same footing as the nonsensical ones because the people or person making the decision is equal and therefore accepted and therefore given some minimal degree of social status no matter regardless of outcome. This belief fits nicely into a system that tells us what we ought or what we should do.
This in turn leads to obvious problems, some of which plague modern society but the most noticeable is political correctness run amok. Conservatism is correct to point out and combat these excesses, to stand up for freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights, to respect human life in the womb and thereafter, or the religious conscience of people.
As Tocqueville and other great minds have noticed, liberty (or freedom) will always be at odds with the quest for equality. In the end, this writer chooses liberty because my proof against this quest for unattainable equality lies in the ruins of the Soviet Union, on the island of Cuba, and the streets of Caracas.