As Washington staggers into a new year, one side of the political spectrum polarizes and paralyzes all ongoing debates due to its irrational reliance on a higher power.
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The problem isn't religious conservatives and their abiding faith in God; it's mainstream liberals and their blind confidence in government.
Consider the current dispute over the right response to gun violence. At its core, this argument comes down to a visceral disagreement between relying on self-defense or on government protection. Gun-rights enthusiasts insist that the best security for law-abiding citizens comes from placing formidable firearms into their hands; gun-control advocates believe we can protect the public far more effectively by taking guns away from as many Americans as possible. In other words, conservatives want to address the threat of gun violence by giving individuals more power while liberals seek to improve the situation by concentrating more power in the hands of the government. The right preaches self-reliance while the left places its trust in the higher power of government.
The same dynamic characterizes most of today's foreign-policy and defense debates. Right-wingers passionately proclaim the ideal of "peace through strength," arguing that a powerful, self-confident America with dominant military resources remains the only guarantee of national security. Progressives, on the other hand, dream of multilateral consensus, comprehensive treaties, disarmament, grand peace deals, and vastly enhanced authority for the United Nations. Once again, liberals place a touching and naive faith in the ideal of a higher power--potential world government--while conservatives insist that the United States, like any nation, must ultimately rely only on itself.
Regarding the great tax-and-spend battles presently pushing the nation ever closer toward the dreaded fiscal cliff, the right argues that the economy will perform better if money is controlled by those who earn it while the left wants to government to make better, more generous decisions on how to invest that money. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary from the failed welfare states of Western Europe, liberals maintain unwavering devotion to the notion that taking funds out of the private sector will miraculously generate more private-sector economic growth. Republicans trust the private decisions of prosperous people to make the best use of the money that those citizens have generated; Democrats rely on the superior wisdom and broader perspective of a larger, more activist government to distribute rewards and plan for the future in a complex economy.
In selecting strategies for helping the poor and uplifting the downtrodden, the opposed approaches of left and right offer an especially sharp contrast. According to Arthur Brooks's important book Who Really Cares and many other studies, conservatives at every income level provide disproportionate support for private charities. On my radio show, we spent the holiday season raising nearly $50,000 for the Salvation Army with its focus on rescuing substance abusers, the homeless, and disaster victims from their miserable circumstances. Liberals, on the other hand, consider such private efforts insufficient and demand governmental initiatives and interventions to supplement the private armies of compassion.
This raises an uncomfortable question for true believers of the left: if organizations like the Salvation Army have indeed done a phenomenal job over many decades in turning lives around and bringing hope to the hopeless, why wouldn't government want to invest its resources in supporting these operations rather than launching their own bureaucratic efforts? If private charities aren't large enough at the moment to cope with the epic dimensions of poverty-related problems, wouldn't government funding to expand these proven organizations provide a better investment--reaching more people at lower cost--than any costly federal start-up?
Source: The Daily Beast
Michael Medved hosts a nationally syndicated daily radio talk show heard by more than 4 million listeners. He is also the author of 12 nonfiction books, most recently The 5 Big Lies About American Business.