The dangerous mindset is that of the modern Progressive. These people constitute, perhaps, 20% of the population. They believe in an autocratic, authoritarian Government with a society designed and engineered to control the population and ensure the People live as they should. They have a vision of the Perfect Human Society and they seek to coerce, or force if necessary, the population into conformance with this vision. They believe the Government has the right and responsibility to ensure we live as the “educated and enlightened” among us think we should. Freedom and liberty are not in the lexicon of this crowd. Personal freedoms are a hindrance to establishing their vision of society and they are correct. When human beings have personal freedom to pursue their own goals, ambitions, direct their own lives, utilize their own talents as they see fit, and spend their income as they desire, it becomes impossible to establish a well-ordered, homogenous society of equals.
The very notion of asking a child what they want to be when they grow up is foreign to this mindset. The child should be evaluated and placed in an occupation that best serves the public good. Modern day Germany is a great example of this (National Socialist Germany was as well, but we won’t go there for now.) Last year a young German woman visited my factory and when we asked her how she came to work for the company she told us she was placed by the Government of Germany. Upon graduation from college she was assigned to our company as the best fit for her. She seemed happy, but she also was very interested in working for the company outside of Germany. There are those in this country that would say, “That’s wonderful. It is the most efficient way to run an economy and ensure people are working where they are best suited.” If personal desires are compromised, so be it. Do you believe there are many in our education system that feel the same way?
In the grand debate over our future, we will have little to no effect on changing the minds of these Progressive Democrats. They are not interested in debate or compromise. They have a vision. They are true believers. This is their religion.
The Liberal mindset that perhaps we can reach is the man or woman who does believe in freedom and liberty, but are also weary of the corruption in our system and are willing to trade some measure of freedom for some measure of social justice. At heart they know the arguments. They know that Capitalism and Free Markets work, but they know they don’t work for everyone the same way. They know the system can be perverted and corrupted, allowing some to prosper at the expense of others. They understand that not everyone can have it all, but they think if the system were just tweaked by Government, if the redistribution of wealth and the regulation of markets and Wall Street were just done to the right level, that perhaps we could keep the Capitalist engine of wealth, while siphoning off just enough capital to equalize the playing field for the disadvantaged.
These people trust their elected representatives more than they trust the companies for which they work. They can be reasonable, have a sense of fairness about them and many are willing to make personal sacrifices. They are not looking for an all-powerful, authoritarian, command-economy Government. They do not want all of society re-engineered—just tweaked. These people can be reasoned with and that is where we have to concentrate our efforts.
My personal belief, and I think history backs me up, is that Man is a flawed species. Perfecting Human Behavior by coercion, force or tyranny will not work, and never has. Likewise, trying to equalize personal outcomes has never worked. I believe the economic system that provides the most prosperity for the most people is the best we as Humans can hope for. Capitalism, as long as competition is maintained and not allowed to devolve into monopolies, provides that level of prosperity. The same is true of our system of government, which John Adams once said was awful, but also the best ever created by Man.
Our goal has got to be to engage this type of Democrat in true debate at the water-cooler level. One compromise we can make with them is to agree with their basic premise that we can have Free Markets and Capitalism with some social tweaking, but that the Progressives doing the tweaking are doing it with a sledge hammer, that is it has grown out of control like a cancer and that it hurts the little guy more than it helps by forcing them to be dependent on an ever-growing Government while hurting their personal competitiveness and chances of employment.
Even more importantly, we must stress that the Progressives pushing the agendas in Washington are not doing it for the same reasons as our friend at the water-cooler. We must convince them these Progressives are not your father’s Democrats. I think the basic Democrat who desires a level of “social safety-net” as a hedge against the Law of the Jungle, needs to contrasted with the Progressive Democrat interested in crushing the Free Markets, expanding Government control over our lives and producing a command economy and a socially re-engineered society. I would venture many “old school” Democrats would part ways with the Progressives if that contrast could be seen. Conservatives have valid, logical arguments. It is time to use these arguments, and more importantly, aim them at the right target audience.