Tag Archives: values

Obama, Values, And Human Progress

In his formal statement on the terrorist attacks in Paris, President Obama said that “Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress.”  By this statement, Obama betrayed the actual status of the debate over values and human progress and the daily struggle to bring humanity to a real consensus regarding these important concepts.

President Obama’s statement is capable of two interpretations.  He either believes that ‘human progress’ has values or that humans have two or more values which are generally perceived by mankind to be directly related to ‘human progress’.  The first interpretation obviously makes no sense because ‘human progress’ is a concept.  Only a living being can have values.  A concept cannot have values of its own.  So he must have intended the second interpretation; that there are two or more values which are ‘timeless’ and which are so directly related to the concept of ‘human progress’ that an otherwise nondescript phrase – “the timeless values of human progress” – is sufficient to convey the meaning he intends.

But it doesn’t.  Because I know very well Mr. Obama’s politics, I’m certain that his notion of what are values directly related to human progress are not the same as mine.  In fact, I’m certain we would have some fundamental disagreements on what constitutes ‘human progress’ and what does not.  Even those values which we might suppose he would identify as ‘timeless values of human progress’, such as liberty and freedom, are so subject to differing and nuanced interpretations that I’m certain his notions of those values are not the same as mine.  I do not believe that those values as he would define them are directly related to my notion of ‘human progress’.  In fact, I believe the implementation of his conceptualization of what liberty and freedom mean into public policy often run directly counter to human progress as I would define it.

Some may suggest that a statement made by a U.S. President in response to the attack shouldn’t be subjected to such scrutiny; that it is only meant to convey to the French our solidarity against those who have perpetrated the crime.  I disagree.  His statements in such situations are heard and read by the entire world.  If he wishes only to express solidarity, then he should limit his comments to such expressions.  What humans value, or should value, is perhaps the most important theme underlying all of human history and experience.  At such times, when the focus of the world is upon him, he is peculiarly situated to illustrate this point.  At the very least, he should not obscure it.

That there are ‘timeless values’ generally understood or accepted to result in ‘human progress’, is simply not true.  What are the worthiest values and what is ‘human progress’ are questions debated intellectually and politically every day in civilized countries throughout the world.  Indeed, those questions constitute a substantial component of the debate over what has led to Islamic terrorism and to its expansion.  When we pretend that consensus exists among mankind as to what ‘values’ result in ‘human progress’, we only avoid these important debates and thereby any opportunity to draw humanity toward a true consensus regarding what values really result in human progress, and how human progress should be properly understood.

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The Corrupt Operating Principle of Modern Liberalism

Like individuals, organizations conduct themselves based on their values and their principles.  What they value determines their ultimate goals and objectives.  Their principles determine how they go about conducting themselves as they strive to achieve those goals.  Modern liberalism’s overarching value is that government should be an active force for good in society.  This value in turn results in the modern liberal goal of a ubiquitous Federal government actively involved in affecting most aspects of society.  Many who value liberty find modern liberalism’s values and goals offensive because large, active government necessarily translates into the exercise of power over individuals.  Because I believe strongly that the proper scope of government is limited to protecting individual rights, administering justice and providing for national security, I also find modern liberalism’s notion of good government offensive.  But the liberal establishment’s goal of big and active government is not the most offensive aspect of modern liberalism.  What is most offensive is how establishment liberals readily violate the structural underpinnings of our governing processes in order to advance their policy agenda.  What is most offensive, is the principle that directs its conduct.

Establishment liberals focus exclusively on the ends they want to achieve.  They have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to employ almost any means to institute their policy objectives.  Indeed, their most radical adherents have perpetrated criminal violence as a means of reaching their policy goals.  The fact that ex-convicts such as Bill Ayers and Kathy Boudin committed acts of unspeakable violence in order to advance their collectivist ideology, yet are welcomed and admired by the modern liberal establishment demonstrates the left’s relativist approach to violence.  Violence perpetrated for “good” reasons is more easily forgiven, a fact which corroborates my thesis; modern liberalism is an “ends justifies the means” ideology driven by a single corrupt principle – expediency.

Many on the left pay lip service to the democratic process and would certainly prefer that people believe public policy proceeding from the elected representatives of a fully enfranchised populace is the fundamental principle underlying modern liberalism.  But the most casual consideration of their actual tactics demonstrates otherwise.  Modern liberalism uses whatever tools it can muster to advance its policy agenda.  Whether environmental, health care, fiscal, economic or redistributive, modern liberalism focuses on winning the policy issue by whatever means necessary.  Fidelity to democratic processes and adherence to constitutional principles are not required.

Accordingly, when they were able to win the congressional vote on the passage of The Affordable Care Act, the left was satisfied.  But they are just as happy to impose their policy proscriptions for environmental policy through EPA regulations, regardless of what the majority of our elected representatives might think about the particular policies involved.  Once the power to affect policy is placed within a regulatory agency such as the EPA, modern liberals are satisfied to leave it there to be exercised by administrators insulated from the electoral process so long as the policies they favor are advanced, regardless of whether the public at large and/or Congress oppose the EPA’s overreach.

Further, where policy objectives can’t be won through either the democratic process or imposition by the regulatory state, the liberal establishment resorts to the courts.  Even where the electorate had considered and rejected same sex marriage, modern liberals didn’t hesitate in seeking its mandate upon society by court order.  To the extent the Constitution doesn’t comport with their policy objectives they argue for a new interpretation and seek to appoint judges who will mollify the Constitution to remove any impediment it poses.  And as is so obvious in the case of illegal immigration, the liberal establishment consciously disregards the rule of law and the will of the electorate when it overtly refuses to enforce existing laws which run counter to their policy objectives.

Finally, modern liberalism employs identity politics in order to maintain or strengthen political power.  The left constantly works to identify subgroups and convince them they have a grievance against society at large.  Having stoked the fires of a newly contrived “cause”, modern liberalism then takes on the mantle of champion of the supposedly disadvantaged subgroup.  No better example can be found than the ridiculous “fight” over contraception.  To be sure, there is undoubtedly a collectivist fringe that actually believes society has an obligation to provide everyone their contraceptive of choice free of charge.  But the liberal establishment doesn’t gain anything by championing that cause because the fringe that holds this belief certainly consists entirely of diehard leftists.  In order to benefit politically from such an issue, the liberal establishment must use it to create new voters or drive existing voters to the polls when they might otherwise have stayed home.  Accordingly they demagogue, demonizing and ascribing false policy positions to political adversaries in order to create the perception of a debate over contraception that doesn’t exist.

Because modern liberalism as reflected by the actions of its establishment flag bearers is entirely policy driven and has no regard for our constitutional rule of law, the democratic process, or the truth, it is bankrupt of any guiding principle other than expediency.  Its approach to governance and the acquisition of power is ultimately tyrannical because it seeks to impose its policies and obtain the political power necessary to do so by whatever means possible, without regard for any of the fundamental principles of our founding; principles which they no doubt deem outdated…the democratic process, limited government constrained by a constitution created by a sovereign people, and the unalienable rights of free individuals.  These were the founding principles employed by our forefathers to achieve what they valued most, a value modern liberalism does not share – a society free of tyranny and despotism.

 

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