And now for something completely different.
I am hardly the first to write about this subject, but I’ve had this subject rolling around in my head for a few weeks now…I want to talk with you (hopefully in the comments) about the collectivist philosophy of the Left. Specifically, I want to talk to you about the difference in public treatment of collectivists who have moral failings (think Bill Clinton, for example; or possibly Eliot Spitzer for a more recent example), and the public treatment of conservatives who have moral failings (Mark Sanford, Larry Craig, John Ensign, etcetera).
It seems to me that the public, conservatives and others, all condemn the moral failings of conservatives. This could possibly be seen as a hatred of hypocrisy; certainly it is difficult to defend the immoral actions of a man who has a long public record of advocating morality. Can any of us really blame the non-conservative, then, for at least noting the failure of a conservative to live up to his own standard?
I mean that rhetorically of course; we all note that failure as a matter of course, and I don’t think we could legitimately deny non-conservatives that ability. But is it a failure of the standard, or of the standard-bearer? Does the failure of a conservative individual mean that conservatism itself has failed? Does it mean that conservatism is a bogus standard? Should we not have conservatism as a goal, even though it is difficult to reach?
I think of what Tom Landry used to say to the press: Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.
Perfection is a difficult standard indeed. I’m a Christian, and I believe there has been exactly one man to ever live a wholly perfect life — and being found not worthy of death, was made a sacrifice for my imperfection. I am not now, nor have I been for quite some time, morally perfect in my own right. But does that mean I should not try? Is perfection from this point forward too much to have as a goal?
Perfection, like conservatism, is a goal. It is a goal set by each individual; and when that goal is met, there can be nothing morally wrong with it.
What of collectivism?
It seems to me that the public, with the exception of conservatives, seems unwilling to condemn the moral failings of collectivists — those who hold the pursuit of power of the collective over the individual as their goal — in almost every case. Clinton, if you remember, was “impeached for sex.” Actually, he wasn’t. He was impeached, but not removed from office, for perjury — lying under the oath of truthfulness. And today he is celebrated (by everyone except conservatives) as “the most talented politician of his generation.”
Think now of the command of Marcus Aurelius, “of every thing, ask ‘what is it?'” What is collectivism? I think it is too great a definition to give here, but a piece of it might be “an individual’s pursuit of power over the whole.” In this case, what is moral? Morality, it seems, is whatever consolidates the power of the collective (the governed) in the hands of the governor. The virtues of a collectivist then, are whatever traits are necessary to facilitate that consolidation. This is partially why a collectivist is never attacked for something we define as a moral shortcoming: Morality for a collectivist has a different definition.
Sophistry, demagogury, pageantry; a knack for steering the whim of the masses. These are virtues according to a collectivist philosophy. This is why liberals are so angry when they lose; the only moral failing is to fail to win. It is a personal moral failing for a liberal politician to fail to impose his (or her) will on the constitutency. And more than that; because liberalism itself must never be allowed to seem morally bankrupt; its politicians are never at fault for their moral failings. Liberals construe themselves as victims of extenuating circumstances, never as servants of a bankrupt philosophy.
Think about that. When a liberal fails to live up to the demands of their philosophy, it is your fault. If Barack Obama lost, they were setting the stage to paint America as a racist country. When climate scientists are caught colluding with collectivists to control the energy consumption of individuals, it isn’t a moral failing of the scientists — or even a failure of the collectivists to be intellectually honest. Instead, we are blamed. We are told that the scientists are being “Swift-Boated;” we are compared to the Italian Fascisti, compared to Holocaust-deniers, even to the Nazis themselves. SENATOR Babs Boxer, instead of investigating Climategate, wants to investigate who released the emails (from a Russian FTP server, good luck with that, ma’am) — as if that were the greater crime!
We are blamed for the moral failings of liberals, as they define them.
What gall they have!