During the Democratic National Convention, Vice-President Joe Biden said something that is patently absurd, but extraordinarily revealing of the liberal mentality. His audience—and the media—should have been taken aback. Instead they cheered wildly.
What did he say that was so ridiculous? What line was extoled as brilliant, but is actually evidence of shallow and egotistical thinking? Why is was that “we own the finish line.”
By this Biden meant that the United States is first and always will be. We have the best economy, the strongest military, and the most moral people. Others—especially Republicans—must stop putting us down because we are inherently the world’s foremost superpower.
It was clear that Biden regards this status as an entitlement. We do not have to earn it. It is ours merely as a result of who we are. We are simply THE BEST—period—exclamation point!
Our vice president has, of course, long since demonstrated that he is a man of limited intellect. He obviously does not know history. There was a time when Rome owned the finish line—then the barbarians ended their reign. There was also a time when China owned the finish line—yet the Mongols and Manchus sent them into eclipse.
At various times, the Spanish, the French, and the English have likewise claimed the mantle of natural superiority. None, however, was able to maintain it. Why then should we be different? What is there about us that exempts us from the competition that might eventually bring us down?
Biden is not alone in his narrow-minded smugness. It is characteristic of the progressive mindset. These folks regard our economic and military dominance as a given. As a consequence, we do not have to do anything to preserve it. Our ascendency is effectively a golden goose that can be plucked, mutilated, and starved of nourishment with impunity.
It therefore follows that the American people deserve every freebee the liberals can ladle their way. Citizens of the United States do not have to work for these things. They do not have to sacrifice or make do with less than they desire. That would be unjust. Everyone—including illegal immigrants—is to be provided with the comforts of our limitless prosperity.
This means that taxes can be raised on the wealthy without reducing the capital needed for investment. It means that regulations, which cost business trillions a year, can be expanded without limit. As Americans, a free lunch is manifestly our due.
And so we bust the budget to provide elective medical care—such as sex change operations. We likewise go blithely into debt such that we will soon owe more on interest than we spend on welfare or defense. Many progressives also want us to cut back on policing, regardless of whether our inner cities become sinkholes of despair.
The Romans fell to the Germanic hordes because they preferred to live in luxury rather than defend themselves. The Chinese turned inward and hence failed to recognize imminent threats. Meanwhile, the Spanish used American gold and silver to purchase extravagances, instead of developing Iberian industry.
Are we in the process of doing something comparable? Life demands choices and determination. The notion that we can have it all without growing our economy or strengthening our military is childish.
When I was a teenager—and a socialist—I argued that an affluent society should leave no one behind. Everyone ought therefore be provided with a minimum income by the federal government. None needed to work. A kind of reverse taxation could be automatic.
Much like contemporary liberals, I regarded this as elementary justice. It was blatantly unfair that anyone possess more than anyone else. In a society as rich as ours, it was self-evidently incumbent upon us to share with the needy. Moreover, demands for effort would only worsen their lot.
This attitude has become part of the liberal creed. It would seem that because we are American, we all deserve trophies—even if we don’t show up.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Kennesaw State University