The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

It's Not Who We Are

There's a new progressive narrative that has begun to emerge. Barack Obama uses it regularly as he continues his effort to divide the country along ideological lines. When some progressives encounter an idea, a statement, or a policy that competes with with their politically correct view of the world or clashes with their overall belief system, they intone the following—"It's not who we are." This implies that the idea, the statement or the policy is well outside their view of the mainstream and anyone who entertains it is the other—morally deficient and politically extreme.

The implication is obvious: Right-thinking Americans have all adopted a set of values that dovetail perfectly with progressive thinking. Here are just a few: 
  • "diversity" trumps merit as a national goal, 
  • "undocumented" immigrants are victims and should take no responsibility for their past actions, 
  • the "religion of peace" has no connection whatsoever with "violent extremism," 
  • "climate change" is the most important "crisis" facing our country because computer models tells us it is, 
  • "millionaires and billionaires" have sole responsibility for "income inequality," 
  • ever-expanding government is a good thing while the private sector is rapacious and uncaring, 
  • "soft power" is the only legitimate approach to international relations and results in consistently good results.
Not all Americans (including yours truly) agree with those positions, each of which can be refuted by examining the facts and/or the consequences that have resulted when those positions have been applied. In fact, half the population might have trouble with one or more of them. Are those who disagree any less American? Are our values somehow less moral or less caring or less right?

There's a certain conceit among progressives in all of this. Progressives truly do believe that they hold the moral high ground in all things. They appear to have a unique ability to filter out their repeated failures in social policy, economic growth, and international affairs. For example, it's never big government tax and spend policies that have led to tepid 2 percent GDP growth, the lowest labor participation rate in modern history, or the smallest number of business start-up in the past 50 years. Noooo. It's the recession of 2008 (now eight years ago!), big banks, big business, and "millionaires and billionaires" who are solely to blame.

But when a prominent figure suggests that smaller government might do far more good for the middle class and the poor than fantasy programs proposed by neo-socialists or when a demagogue like Donald Trump ham-handedly suggests that it might be wise to establish a moratorium on immigration from countries that have active terrorist organizations, we hear "That's not who we are."

When progressives sit on their high moral perch and intone that phrase, it might be worth noting that (using the jargon that has been co-opted by progressives) "we" have a wide diversity of views, no view should necessarily be valued above another, and accusing someone of having a divergent opinion is a micro-aggression against that person.

240 years of history have indicated that the "we" —the people of America—value individualism, hard work, personal responsibility, education and entrepreneurship, but at the same time exhibit empathy for the underdog and always provide a hand up, but reject the notion of a lifetime of handouts. "We" value the importance of government and are willing to support it via taxes, but also recognize the inherent danger in a government that has grown too large and intrusive, and bridle when those tax dollars are wasted by incompetent or avaricious bureaucrats and politicians. "We" reject moral equivalence, recognizing that some cultures are less deserving of acceptance than others, that there is "good" and "bad" in the world, and that our first duty is to protect ourselves, our children, and our country.

That's who "we" are, and we don't appreciate being told by the supposed elites that we must be something else.