After observing politics for the past 35 years, it occurs to me that being a political liberal is, by a hundred miles, the easiest thing in the world to be. In fact, I have come to the place where I actually envy men and women of the left. I do not envy them their beliefs, or their tortured associations, or their all-encompassing guilt. But I do envy them two things, as follows.
I envy them their eternal and never failing ownership of the moral high ground. The basic assumption is always that liberals have big hearts. Liberals are filled to overflowing with compassion for the downtrodden. They are always the champions of the little guy, the protector of the powerless. It cannot even be argued, it is taken as an article of faith, especially in American politics. It matters not what the results of their compassion have been. If, for instance, an intellectual argument is made that the very welfare apparatus that liberals so champion has had the deleterious effect of destroying the black family in inner city America by eliminating any need for a father in the home, the point is often conceded but liberals suffer no blame. Liberals always seem to escape any blame for the consequences of their policies because they are never judged on the results, only the intentions. Liberals’ hearts are always in the right place, you see. Conversely, if one is a political conservative in America, one must first and foremost prove that he has a heart. The basic assumption for him is that his heart’s desire is to starve little children and turn old people out of their nursing homes in the middle of the night. If a conservative begins talking about trying to rein in deficits its always because he loves the rich and despises the poor. If any conservative policy actually ends up helping the poor it is considered a cosmic accident. Which brings me to the second source of my liberal envy.
Liberal policy prescriptions are always unfalsifiable. I remember back in the 80’s when Ronald Reagan claimed that by lowering taxes across the board revenue to the treasury would increase. While admittedly counterintuitive, he turned out to be wildly correct. Revenues skyrocketed once taxes were lowered and the old tax avoidance schemes lost their appeal. But even though liberals were proven fantastically wrong in their claims, their reply was simply, “Well, sure , revenues increased…but Reagan is still evil because now the system is even more “unfair”.” Then later in the 90’s the left cried us all a river about the tail of woe which would befall the republic if “welfare reform” were passed. There would be tent cities in every corner of the country, hundreds of thousands of children would literally starve to death. When the legislation finally passed without the promised calamities, liberals merely changed the subject and were allowed to. And more recently we arrived at the stimulus bill of 2008. We were told by liberals that if this bill was passed, unemployment would drop to 8% and millions upon millions of jobs would be created or saved. I can’t even remember the exact number…800 or 850 billion dollars had to be printed or borrowed, but it didn’t matter because this thing was going to save the day. Three years later unemployment is still over 9%, the economy is still hemorrhaging jobs and the response of the liberals to all of the disappointing results is simple…”it failed because it wasn’t BIG enough. Instead of 850 billion, it should have been 1.5 trillion!”, an utterly unfalsifiable claim. Hell, if 1.5 trillion would produce 2 million jobs and drop the unemployment rate to 8, why not borrow 3 trillion and create 4 million jobs and drop the rate to 6???
Getting back to Reagan. While he was right that cutting taxes would increase revenue, he was wrong on his campaign promise that he would simultaneously cut taxes, increase defense spending AND lower the deficit. The first two he did, but he failed to lower the deficit, something with which liberals have been beating him up over for the last 30 years. I see no similar culpibility by liberals for the results of their disastrous policies. In fact, they will not even acknowledge any problems exist. What dependency crisis? What entitlement unsustainability? What’s wrong with a 1.5 trillion dollar yearly federal deficit for as far as the eye can see? Nothing, because liberals care too much about the little guy to fret over silly numbers. And because they care, everything will be ok.
Liberals never have to worry about answering for their mistakes and they can peer down on the rest of us from the commanding heights of their moral superiority. Pretty sweet deal.