A little quest of mine is to determine the most succinct way
of articulating the difference in worldviews between someone like me and a
progressive--discovering a singularity in belief that sends someone down the
left or the right path.
Of course, I'm trying to keep it out of the
"they-are-dumb-we-are-smart" realm and instead would rather have something that
people both sides could look at and agree on.
I always criticize the Left for their reliance on bloated,
wasteful, fraud-riddled, and unsuccessful big government programs to socially
engineer society. For example, progressives are just learning that kids
don't like vegetables. But why do they support this kind of nanny-state
stuff and I don't?
For someone that spends a good deal of time complaining
about people who can't manage their own lives, you'd think I'd hop on the nanny
state train and force people to conform.
Progressives and many conservatives can agree on one thing,
I think. People are generally ignorant, discourteous, uninformed, and lazy.
Progressives like to throw around a country bumpkin
caricature with a thick southern accent to represent the common man. Obama
Regulation Czar Cass Sunstein calls us Homer Simpson. President Obama says
cling to our guns and religion. His wife doesn't think we can feed our own
They're right about that more often than I prefer--I run into
many more Homer Simpsons during my day than people who've mastered the art of
Where we differ, however--and hopefully I'm at least
approaching a singularity--is what we want to do about it.
I want people to be rewarded naturally for making the smart
choices and to accept the consequences of making the dumb ones. If you work
hard and make a lot of money, you get to keep it. If you invent a product that
people want to pay you for, keep it. If you don't want to work or think, then
your life isn't going to be very good. Sorry.
Good behavior, thus encouraged, would increase. Likewise,
bad behavior would decrease. And we wouldn't need government overlords to
decide who wins and who doesn't. In a paragraph, I've summed up laissez faire
Progressives start out at the same place. There are societal
problems and they largely have to do with people making poor decisions. But
rather than let people get their just desserts, they want to harness the power
of government to eliminate poor decisions through regulation. We're going to
make it illegal for you to own guns. We think you aren't smart enough to see
through the lies of talk radio or Fox News. You can't be trusted to raise your
kids without government's help so we're just going to have to feed your kids
for you. You really aren't responsible enough to spend your money in a way that
benefits society so we're going to take half of it and spend it for you. You're
not bright enough to save for retirement or have savings for periods of
unemployment, so we'll have trusts that do that for you.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People become so
dependent on unemployment and retirement benefits that they don't save for a
rainy day. Shielded from the consequences of their bad decisions, they simply
make more of them. Single mom on welfare with three kids? You get more money
the more kids you have, why stop there?
Good behavior--being productive members of society--is
punished because their incomes are transferred to those on social programs
making poor decisions. Many of those people made bad decisions and then get a
check in the mail to boot. Society gets worse, increasing the need for
government solutions in the eyes of progressives.
However, I'm getting a head of myself. The point here is to
simply summarize the difference between us, not analyze whose worldview is
Both sides can agree that people make poor decisions .But
while progressives want government to externally influence the individual's
decisions via regulations, conservatives want the individual to internally make
In other words, progressives want to limit choices by making
things illegal or heavily taxing them, while conservatives want people to make
the correct choice from a wide field of options.
Forming it into a sort of singular definition then, we get
this. Progressives think government imposition is necessary to achieve the best
result while conservatives think that imposition is precisely what prevents the
best result from occurring.
I don't think either side would find anything too
distasteful about that statement.
Of course, I can always be trusted to take it one step
further, however I lose any chance of getting a definition both sides can agree
But I can't help but say, that at the root of it all is that
the progressive wants to maximize control, and the conservative wants to
I think we've lost all meaning of the word freedom, but when
you spell it out in terms of limiting choices versus maximizing choices, it
becomes clear. The world suddenly rotates from right versus left to up versus
down, freedom versus slavery, light versus dark, and good versus evil.