Liberals are ideologues. They have a simplified view of what the world is and should be. As they see it, if we were all nice to each other and treated each other as complete equals, the government, which they will control, would provide everything we need in order to be happy.
As “progressives,” they consider it inevitable that a compassionate bureaucracy will one day furnish everyone with free health care, free higher education, and comfortable living conditions, without anyone having to work for these. Much as Henry VIII of England once looted the monasteries to finance his lavish lifestyle, they will take from the rich to give to the poor.
The problem is that in order to realize this fairytale, they have had to jettison their moral principles. Liberals have few ethical standards because they assume their limitless kindness makes canons of decency unnecessary. Thanks to their unparalleled intelligence and good intentions, they will always do what’s best.
Liberals tell us that we must be non-judgmental and are as good as their word. They have, in fact, abandoned all pretenses of reasonable judgment. When it comes to distinguishing right from wrong, they can no longer tell the difference.
Liberals do not believe in honesty, or personal responsibility, or elementary fairness, or family commitments, or individual liberty. Although they sometimes pay verbal deference to these values, their actions reveal an underlying conviction that these are outmoded.
Thus the left-wing idealists, who dominate the mainstream press, consider it their duty to distort what conservatives believe. They would rather cut off a right arm than give Donald Trump credit for anything. To this end, they omit information that might cast him in a favorable light and egregiously misread the import of his policies.
By the same token, political agitators campaign against public safety. They do not believe it is the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens or theirs to respect the free speech of those with whom they disagree. Others may have such duties, but they have only rights.
As for fairness, they routinely condemn double standards when these are applied to them, but eagerly use them against their foes. Hence Trump is vilified for his alleged exploitation of women, whereas we were asked to “move on” with respect to Bill Clinton’s sexual misdeeds,
Meanwhile, liberal feminists disparage the family. Men are portrayed as serial rapists; while women are assured that they do not need to marry and will not benefit from the assistance of a husband. Children, of course, are depicted as dead weight that prevent women from realizing their potential.
Finally, liberty is dismissed as a rationalization for exploitation. Liberals believe that a multitude of statutes must prohibit people from making dire mistakes. Only government experts are capable of determining how many carbonated drinks people should be allowed or whether a mud puddle on a family farm endangers planetary climate.
What liberals fail to understand is that when they undermine basic moral principles, they also undermine their ability to deliver the benefits they promise. No large-scale society can function without broadly held, and consistently enforced, interpersonal rules.
We humans are a contentious species. We want what we want when we want it. We are also a dangerous species. We—all of us—are capable of injuring others. Given the availability of the proper weapons, no one is invariably safe from anyone else.
These hazards are magnified in massive communities where millions of strangers need to cooperate if they are to prosper. People, who depend upon each other, but do not know one another, must be constrained by internalized principles. Love is not enough to render them selfless when they are not bound by personal attachments.
Ideological fairytales are no substitute for a conscience or shared commitments. Visions of what would happen if we were a different sort of creature, cannot constrain people if they do not possess internal limitations.
We currently see what happens when principles are absent. People engage in riots, vulgarly insult their foes, and misrepresent facts. Moreover, they do so with a clear conscience. Like contemporary liberals, they are self-congratulatory, even as they slander others.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Kennesaw State University