The 2016 U.S. Presidential election is in full swing and no other election on the planet in recent history has generated as much drama and buzz as this one. Opinions on candidates, policies, platforms, parties, campaigns and the like abound from every potential source, ranging from professional media outlets to the crazy uncle at family gatherings who invariably begins to shout obscenities regarding Obama and making everybody uncomfortable. The Internet in particular is awash with political commentary surrounding the election, and this kind of commentary, too, runs the gamut between qualified, perfectly reasoned political analysis to psychotic shouting matches on YouTube’s deepest wastelands, the latter of which tend to encapsulate more blood boiling rage and vitriol than a WWE promo.
In light of the above, I decided now would be a good time to chip in and partake in the joy of discussing politics, because whereas it is easy to poke fun at angry people ripping each other’s throats out in the comments sections of cat videos that are completely irrelevant to politics, this is undoubtedly a crucial moment in Western civilization given what is at stake in this election cycle, and it is taking place in the most powerful nation on Earth. This election shall dictate the future not only within the scope of circumstances as they pertain to one particular nation such as the state of the economy (which in itself produces a butterfly effect everywhere else considering the way much of the world’s economic dynamics are heavily influenced by the US), but it will also have a great impact on the future of political thought and activism itself, including political ideology.
Within the context of political debate, the issue of ideology frequently surfaces and becomes a focal point of arguments coming from distinct groups, categorized into left and right, two different camps which can be further divided into different subsets representing different ideologies. Whereas political ideologies are relatively plentiful, they are usually sorted according to how much stock they place in the size and role of the government. The amount of prestige conferred to certain ideas of morality and social norms and the authority they should hold within society is also a great source of contention, but it is the size and role of government that truly distinguishes mainstream left-wing ideologies from right-wing ideologies.
Those on the left believe government should be big and powerful enough so as to be able to provide for the welfare of its people. To that end, government should be furnished with all the powers and tools it needs to effectively control and regulate as many different aspects and areas of modern society with the ultimate purported goal of promoting the common good and pursuing fairness.
On the other hand, those on the right, myself included, believe the government should be small enough as to allow its people to be free and independent, and that only a truly free society can be truly prosperous and thriving. Big government, as we believe, cannot promote the common good; on the contrary, it can only perpetuate dependency, stifle progress and human enterprise and undertake the equal sinking of ships as opposed to causing the waves that could elevate them. That is not fairness, or rather, it is a novel view of fairness insofar as it does provide for justice, so long as justice means the equal distribution of misery.
Left-wing ideologies come in different names and packages and may differ in substantial ways. It would be folly to claim that there is a one-size-fits-all kind of leftism or a single brand of leftism that could please everybody that would consider themselves a leftist. Not unlike on the right, there is plenty of infighting to go around in left-wing circles and the Democratic primaries in this election cycle are a prime example of that. A Hillary Clinton is not the same as a Bernie Sanders and it is quite likely that neither of them are the same as a Maduro, or, worse still, a Kim Jong-un, even if it could be argued that Sanders is a self-identified socialist and socialists ultimately all rally around each other in the end, especially considering Sanders’ concerning reticence on the regimes in Cuba and Venezuela. However, notwithstanding the fact that there are different brands of leftism or liberalism, it is true that they are all cut from the same cloth of big, strong central government.
And the premise of liberalism sounds enticing enough. They throw around some comforting, soothing sounding buzzwords such as “fairness” and promise the moon and the stars, but the truth is that if progressives and socialists collectively formed a company, they would most certainly be sued for employing misleading bait-and-switch tactics or false advertising. For good reason. Throughout history, time and time again, every single attempt at setting socialist policies (or progressive policies, whatever you want to call them) in motion has failed and resulted in stunted growth, shrinking economies, unemployment, government dependency and even rising crime rates. It bears saying that this is only with regard to economic policies, I’m not even getting into the other insidious effects of liberalism in the social sphere, such as their all too apparent penchant for silencing dissent and undermining free speech. Depending on your standpoint, left-wing political thought has only achieved success from a single angle, and that is in producing authoritarian governments around the globe.
Obviously, I’m not making the argument that liberalism will always produce dictatorships, as that would be ridiculous, despite the many Asian, African and Latin American governments that would like to prove that point on my behalf if I did try to make it. Democracies such as the United Kingdom have liberal parties and they’re doing just fine, likewise, the US isn’t likely to succumb to an oppressive socialist dictatorship any time soon. I can concede that not everybody on the left is on board with radical Marxist sociopolitical thought; not everybody on the left is a revolutionary. I mean, I guess Bernie Sanders can be pretty out there, and he’s a little too cozy with Cuba for comfort. But realistically, he couldn’t successfully implement a dictatorship of the proletariat, because that can only be successful in vulnerable countries where political turmoil and instability run rampant.
With that being said, liberalism will always favor and encourage the growth of bigger government, with all of the nefarious consequences associated with that. Under liberal governments, the size and role of government will always increase, never decrease. Freedom will always be curtailed in favor of more regulation, more taxation, more restrictions, greater and ever more onerous burdens on small businesses, more squeezing and wringing of the middle class, bolder and ever more aggressive government takeovers of areas of the economy, more leverage for big business behemoths and lobbyists that cozy up to the government and benefit from regulation so they can insulate themselves from competition, more unemployment, more dependency, more control.
That being the case, I could not be a liberal, even of the stripe with the best intentions in the world who would not necessarily dream of a totalitarian Marxist dystopia. A liberal’s best intentions will always produce disastrous results in every sphere of society, whether economically or socially. One thing I can get behind is freedom, and that is one of the premises which make up the pillars of conservatism. Individuals, when set free from the manacles of government, can aspire to and achieve great things. I am not a libertarian, because I believe government does have its essential roles that cannot be delegated to private companies or citizens, but government should be bound by the constraints of a Constitution. As we all know, a Constitution is not meant to restrain the citizenry, rather, it is a fundamental restraint on the government, so that it does not run loose and become an unstoppable entity which develops an insatiable hunger for power and consumes everything in its path.
Leftism gestates that very kind of destructive government that entraps and enslaves the people. Libertarianism, whilst being an ideology and a movement that belongs on the right side of the political spectrum, fails to pitch itself as a cogent, mature system of ideas that would be sustainable in the long run. It is conservatism that aims for the limited, constitutional government that is desirable and conducive to progress, and that is why I am a conservative. Conservatism works; it is what allows people to freely pursue happiness and live their own lives unburdened by the crushing weight of big, slouching bureaucracy. It makes sense and produces good results. It isn’t perfect, it doesn’t promise perfection, but then again, humans aren’t perfect. We are fallible, and that is fine. In contrast to liberals, which attract and ensnare followers by the means of lofty ideas and platitudes that will never come into being because it’s simply impossible to make good on their promises without dire repercussions, we promise freedom and that is something we can actually deliver.
P.S.: Every Monday, there shall be a new post about politics and political ideology, so stay tuned!