The Liberal God Delusion

The Liberal God Delusion

by Dec 28, 2012 4:45 AM EST

Our government has been hijacked by a party obsessed with a higher power. But I’m not talking about the GOP. I’m talking about the left and their worship of government.

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.

The Liberal God Delusion
Camilo Morales/Glowimages/Corbis

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?

The contemptuous refusal even to consider such an approach stems from two sources: a liberal belief in totally restructuring a broken society rather than merely repairing the broken lives of individuals, and the related belief in the healing, transformative power of top-down, government-instituted change.

There’s also the inevitable tendency of any fanatical faith to despise and distrust all religious alternatives: liberalism can be a jealous god. Most progressives would therefore prefer to commit trillions to purely secular (and mostly dubious) federal and state antipoverty efforts rather than spending less money for more results if those investments involved proven charities with religious agendas.

The left’s contempt for religious conservatives stems in part from the false assumption that people of faith place irrational reliance on the role of God in solving all the world’s problems. Occasional comments by Christian right-wingers—like the rightly derided suggestion that the Newtown massacre resulted from an absence of prayer in public schools—give some credence to this unflattering caricature.

But mainstream conservatism has never denied the importance of human effort or governmental leadership in addressing dire circumstances or everyday difficulties: after all, Republican heroes of history from Lincoln to Reagan have been powerful presidents, not merely passive and prayerful observers. Yes, most religious conservatives hope for divine favor for the land they love but simultaneously embrace the old saw, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Liberals, on the other hand, place their confidence in the notion that “Government helps those who can’t help themselves”—a proposition that’s questionable in both its components. First, it’s wrong and destructive to believe that any America is truly helpless and second, it’s arguable whether government reliably helps more than it hurts when it expands its power into our daily lives.

Fair-minded people of all perspectives should agree that any form of uncompromising, unquestioned, illogical faith can poison public discourse and derail important debates. There’s no effective rejoinder to the declaration that “God tells me that that I’m right and I refuse to consider other arguments.”

There is similarly no easy response to the insistence that “I know that government can fix this problem and don’t confuse me with evidence to the contrary.”

In the wake of Obama’s reelection, unreasoning reliance on federal power distorts our politics far more destructively than simple-minded faith in God. At the moment, big-government fundamentalism poses more of a threat to the republic than religious absolutism.

Why liberalism will ultimately fail

 

Why liberalism will ultimately fail

By William Bennett, CNN Contributor
updated 1:19 PM EST, Wed November 28, 2012
William Bennett says the new liberal coalition wants to rely on government rather than creating economic growth.
William Bennett says the new liberal coalition wants to rely on government rather than creating economic growth.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • William Bennett: Since Obama won, liberals think winning coalition is diverse new groups
  • He says it include gays, blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, students, single women
  • They want economic, social justice (aka entitlements); reject social unifiers like church, family
  • Bennett: Entitlement state collapses without economic growth, shared social structures

Editor’s note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of “The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood.” He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

(CNN) — With President Obama’s re-election, many liberals believe they possess the building blocks of the winning political coalition of the future: college students, single women, gays, secularists, Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans. Liberals see here not a splintered electorate but key constituencies united by a common agenda of economic and social justice. In previous columns, I have conceded the strength of the Democrats in these quarters.

Fifty, 25, perhaps even 10 years ago, this brand of liberalism probably would have failed. But today, the country, the demographics and the culture are different. Americans are less white, less religious, and less likely to get married, and have families. Liberalism has adapted accordingly.

For the college student struggling with student loan debt, the single mother who can barely afford to provide for her children, the minority family in the inner city struggling to find work, liberalism offers immediate relief: subsidized student loans, national health care and entitlements for the elderly and the poor.

William Bennett

William Bennett

Rather than waiting on free markets to correct themselves and start creating wealth again, liberalism’s cure is immediate, and so are the political payoffs. This explains partly why many voters feel liberals care about them more than conservatives.

For the ideologically driven — the pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage voters and Sandra Flukes of the world (she was the Georgetown student at the center of a birth control debate this year) — liberalism offers a slightly different relief: the rejection of the central role of mediating institutions — like churches, families and community organizations — in imposing moral standards to govern or regulate behavior within the state.

 

Churches and families can exist, says liberalism, so long as they exercise “soft” religion and don’t force their views on the public. When they do, like in the case of the Catholic Church and contraception, it’s necessary, says liberalism, for the state to step in and impart justice. This explains Obamacare’s contraception mandate and why much was made over the “war on women.”

Liberalism has effectively persuaded its many factions that it is uniquely qualified to meet their needs and desires, while conservatism has not. By its nature, liberalism molds to fit these times better than conservatism; conservatism is by its nature more abstract than practical, more focused on long-term considerations than short term.

Does this mean that conservatism is past its time and that liberalism is the mandate of the future?

No, it doesn’t. Liberalism’s continued success depends on many factors, but two in particular. First, it must paint the political alternative, conservatism, as the faction of social injustice, as anti-immigrant, anti-entitlement, anti-regulation and so on. The Obama campaign did that effectively in this election without an equally effective conservative response. One presumes that conservatives will be ready in 2016.

Second, and more important, effective state intervention of the sort liberals propose depends almost entirely on a state that is strong economically and socially. It is here that liberalism falls short in the long term. The various liberal constituencies are in fact atomized groups of individuals who are relying on government, rather than creating the economic growth or fostering the social and civic health necessary to sustain the ideal liberal state.

Whereas liberals see entitlements as the immediate response to economic injustice, many fail to realize that they alone cannot rebuild a middle class. In fact, they can have the opposite effect in the long term and insulate their recipients from upward mobility. With $16 trillion in national debt, an aging population and an already-overburdened entitlement system, the ideal liberal social welfare state can only sustain itself for so long before it collapses under its own weight. It is a lifeline attached to a slowly sinking ship.

 

Whereas liberals celebrate subsidized birth control and the unmooring of what they see as narrow-minded religious moral standards, they fail to realize the alternative that is right in front of them: out-of-wedlock birth rates that are at all-time highs and a destructive breakdown in the family unit.

Absent strong, active, character-forming institutions, like families, schools, and churches, single mothers and low-income households in many cases have no where else to turn but to the government. The problem is that liberals often confuse such allegiance with successful governing.

The liberal coalition of the future looks more like Greece, an advanced secular, social welfare state, than the idealized liberal glory days of FDR.

Just when I thought that I had seen the worst of Obama, he turns around and does this…

Just when I thought that I had seen the worst of Obama, he turns around and does this…

The list of his failures is endless. The emptiness of his ideas are epic.  Yet, for all the disappointments and shock that I have experienced with Obama nothing prepared me for the moment when he looked into the camera on 60 Minutes and told a cold-blooded lie.  “I am only responsible for an increase of 10% of the national debt.” I am straining to stay calm writing this.

He added 5.7 Trillion dollars to the debt in 4 years!  He added more than all presidents before him combined.  The national debt is $16 trillion!  Your child owes $66,000.  That is higher than Spain, Portugal and Greece!

His callous lie demonstrates the depth of his ignorance about the greatest danger Americans face.  It is a greater danger than global warming or foreign enemies.   Worse, it shows his complete disregard for Americans.

Wait, there is more…under his current plan, already voted in by the Democratic Senate the debt will increase to $25 Billion next year.   That is when our debt will be greater than what our economy produces.  Another word for that is bankruptcy.

It gets worse.  Listen to  Senator Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee:

“This is a grim landmark for the United States. The gross debt of our federal government will, for the first time, surpass $16 trillion. That’s more government debt per person than Portugal, Italy, Spain, or Greece. Yet the President seems strangely unconcerned. His budget, which received zero votes in the House or Senate, would add another $66,000 in debt for every American household. And the President’s majority in the Senate, which is required by law to produce a budget plan every single year, has refused to do so for more than 1,200 days.

“We are on a dramatically unsustainable path. Forty cents of every dollar we spend is borrowed. Systemic factors, such as our aging population, make this the most serious financial challenge our nation has ever faced. This year will mark the fourth straight deficit in excess of a trillion dollars. In the last 3 months, more people have been permanently been added to the disability rolls than have found jobs. The IRS is mailing billions of dollars in tax credits to illegal aliens, and the USDA is partnering with Mexico to boost enrollment in food stamps. Washington is disconnected from reality.

“But this crisis cannot be ducked. By failing to outline any serious plan for the financial future of this country, Democrats who run the Senate and the White House have no basis on which to ask to be kept in their majority. The nation is in desperate need of strong executive leadership to end the financial chaos, restore discipline to government, and lead us to an economic renaissance.”

Obama does not care about you, your future, your children or their future.  He could not even remember what the national debt was when he was asked on the David Letterman show.

Let me repeat one part…the man who said he only responsible for 10% of the increase in debt is, among other things, “mailing billions of dollars in tax credits to illegal aliens, and the USDA is partnering with Mexico to boost enrollment in food stamps.”

Billions around the word live under tyrants and they cannot do anything about it.  We can and we must!  We have this one last gasp.  We can vote this tyrant out.  Think of it, in one more year the debt will stand at $25 trillion…what will it be if this man gets 4 more years?