We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
So claims Peggy Noonan, and I think it's darn good and enjoyable too: George Will on Religion in Politics at Washington U on Dec 4. (You have to click the link to video playlist for the speech, on the right)
"Do 'natural rights' presuppose religious faith?"
Will is not a man of faith and he is an old-fashioned Liberal. It's not a political speech; it's a wonderful historical-philosophical survey from the Greeks to Woodrow Wilson and the notion of progress, and it goes a long way towards explaining the historical underpinnings of the Maggie's chronically anti-statist and revolutionary view of the world.
Every 6th-grader to high school kid in America should know this basic stuff, but I bet many do not. "Should the State have a monopoly on social and civil authority?"
The Q&A after is excellent too. Family disintegration. Do not skip it. He speaks slowly and methodically, but it still deserves two listenings. George Will, like us, is a Madison and de Toqueville fan. Those guys were smarter and wiser than all of us. Those who think they know better need to beware of hubris: they were wary of all power.
America has indeed been exceptional in world history, and, we hope, will stick with it. I hate the idea of people voting without knowing their history.
Those who think they know better need to beware of hubris: they were wary of all power.
Something modern Progressives & Liberals have forgotten utterly, if they ever knew. They are wary of their rival's power, but when it's held in their name they trust it comprehensively; take its every declared position at face value and have full faith and confidence that power can achieve every purpose.
They will deny this; they have often claimed they are critics of power. But acts trump posturing, and they will and have expanded state power every chance they have gotten. Because they trust it, and imagine they are smart and wise enough to control it, that power won't master them.
They are critics of power, but because they are connoisseurs. It's an appreciation.
I think conservatives are comfortable with the power one individual can get over another by virtue of being stronger, smarter, richer, or luckier. We assume that no one individual will get too powerful -- not even a group of individuals acting as a multinational corporation -- and that checks and balances will ameliorate the problem. Liberals are so focused on this danger, however, that they see conservatives as heartless bigwigs who trample on the common man, and they see government as their champion in this unequal battle. I've never known a liberal who believed he was more trusting of power than a conservative is. Liberals just fear a different kind of power.
In short: yes, I agree that conservatives are more comfortable with individual power.
I think liberals exaggerate the threat of individual / private power and underestimate the potential malignancy of strong central government.
So, of course you never met a liberal who believed he was more trusting in power than a conservative is, otherwise he wouldn't work to support and strengthen government power, the kind of power that is most difficult to constrain and diminish.
Liberals trust that once the apparatus of state power has been enlarged at the expense of private society they or - somebody - perfect technocrats, or philosopher kings - will always be around to act as wise and competent stewards of that apparatus.
Liberals trust that the greater power won't be abused; the founding fathers - even the Federalists - weren't so trusting.
I agree -- liberals seem to me to be focused on a negligible threat and oblivious to the real one. They see me the same way, I supposed, but the difference is that I'm right. :-) At least conservatives acknowledge power where it exists and have arguments that I find convincing about how it's going to be reined in. Usually the counterargument I get from liberals, when I warn of the power of the government, is that it's all OK because we vote for whatever government does. If I point to the danger of a tyranny of the majority, they shrug and say that's the social contract. I imagine they are equally frustrated when they try to get me worked up about the dangerous power of Walmart: I shrug and say that's why there's competition, so go buy from someone else.