When given the choice between equality (or fairness) and liberty (or freedom), Americans eventually side with liberty. As Nate Silver showed in 2014, this has political ramifications. In his study, he looked at these terms in the platforms of the Democratic and Republican Parties starting in 1948 through 2012.
In the 1948 election, he found that the terms were skewed towards liberty by both parties to roughly the same degree. In fact, through the 1968 election, the terms appeared about equally between the parties mostly on the liberty side. But, a break occurred in 1972 with the nomination of George McGovern. In that year, the GOP went to the equality side for the first time but not to the degree of that of the Democratic Party. In only one year- 1996- did the Democrats break back over to the liberty side.
The greatest difference occurred in 2008 with the election of Obama. However, economic conditions at that time more than an American electorate shift likely determined that result. One supposes that if Silver’s analysis went back to the days of the Depression, we would see the same results. During times of economic crisis, equality seems to be the winning electoral message.
But the more powerful value of freedom is in the American cultural values DNA. In order for the Left to achieve their goals of equal outcomes, they must confiscate 40% of the wealth of the most successful Americans to pay for basic needs like food, housing and healthcare for people who pay nothing. Government agencies monitor the payrolls of businesses to ensure equal pay for work. Racial, ethnic and gender equality are the subjects of affirmative action programs.
Freedom of assembly which gave rise to fraternal and women’s organizations has been under attack for some time. The Boy Scouts- a private male organization- came under attack and first allowed homosexuals and now transgender “boys.” Ironically, however, if it is an organization exclusively composed of some oppressed group, then they get a free pass. At many colleges, black activists on campus are demanding all-black or Hispanic housing. If this has some unknown advantage, then the Supreme Court seriously got wrong their decision in Brown v. Board of Education which determined, largely based on sociological studies, that segregation had a bad effect in a variety of areas. So who is wrong- the Court in 1956 or black activists today?
The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal.” In the context of the Revolution, this was a satisfactory comment, but off the mark. Thomas Jefferson should have written that “all men are created with equal rights.” The fact is that all men are not created equal and all cultures or values are not equal. Some are better than others. It may not be polite to state so in today’s politically correct environment, but to say otherwise borders on moronic. A basic doctrine of Communism is that all men are equal and should therefore have equal property. The reality is that all men then become slaves who own nothing.
Liberty or freedom means that anyone can say or do anything provided they do not violate the social contract and hurt another. And a case can be made on any number of metrics that the culture with the greatest amount of liberty is superior to those without. Western civilization is not better because it is “Western,” or “Eurocentric,” or even because it is “our culture.” It is better because it has the greatest amount of liberty. The idea that all cultures and values are equal is promoted to destroy liberty. If Americans can be convinced of the equality of values and cultures, then they will learn to believe that liberty has no value.
America has lost its way and the fears of thinkers like Tocqueville are coming to fruition who in the 1830’s believed that America’s ultimate and unfortunate fate was sacrificing liberty for equality. This wayward tilt did not start with Barack Obama or any movement currently alive today. Since the New Deal, the focus of government has shifted from promoting liberty to one of promoting equality. The result is the one-size-fits-all systems of healthcare, education, housing and employment practices. Unfortunately, these programs are judged on their intent, not the results.
The concern about equality rests on the supposition that life should be fair. If not, then the modern tendency is to turn to government to do something about it. But that is not how America started. Visions of equality like those enshrined in Marxism and even Nazism have one thing in common: to make more people the same. Whether from the racist or class-struggle viewpoint, somehow making everyone equal will make everyone magically “happy.”
Nancy Pelosi recently got a taste of multicultural reality at a gathering to discuss DACA. Interrupted by “dreamers,” they chanted: ““We undocumented youth demand a clean bill…We undocumented youth demand that you do not sell out our community and our values…” [Emphasis mine] Nancy Pelosi’s sniveling response: “You’ve had your say and it is music to our ears.” And there are way too many people on both side of the aisle who expound the same sentiments because… well, diversity makes us stronger even if that diversity involves those with values antithetical to our own. You don’t thank a person for spitting in your face.
We have created a political class in America in which both parties now protect their own interests rather than the only interest that should matter: liberty. In fact, liberty is the last thing on their minds. History has shown and modern inferior cultural values have demonstrated that this quest for equality at the expense of liberty is a losing proposition. The concept of individual liberty and its economic brother- capitalism- has lifted more people out of poverty at a greater pace than any other value in human history. It is unfortunate, yet inevitable, that cultures which have no knowledge of such values, or who insist on opposite values, are destined to remain backwards countries.
The sooner we come to this realization and, more importantly, the sooner we realize that some wish to undercut our values, the sooner we will return to our own, superior values. And it makes no sense to import or support those who wish to undercut our basic values.