The Arrogance of Hope

He is the distinguished college professor seated at the head of his class.  Today’s subject: universal healthcare.  He calls on his students one by one.  Have they done their homework?  Have they completed the assignment to his satisfaction?  Did they come to class prepared with the answers that he wants to hear?  He calls on Johnny McCain who inappropriately raises the issue of unequal treatment of citizens under the proposed law.  The professor summarily scolds him, reminding him that the campaign is now over.  As an upperclassman, Johnny should know better than to revert to mere talking points!  Then there is little Eric Cantor who had the temerity to bring the 2700 page assignment with him to class.  He needs to be scolded too.  Ostentatious props like that are uncalled for and serve only to distract from the intellectual discussion.  Then there is naughty Paul Ryan who just didn’t have his facts right. The professor will need to speak with him after class.  Alas, it would appear that at least some of his students are very delinquent indeed!  But then there are his honor students: Joey Biden, Harry Reid, and of course teacher’s pet Nancy Pelosi.  They all followed the professor’s instructions implicitly and so get to go to the head of the class.  Well if there is nothing further, class dismissed!  Now the professor, with the able help of his honor students, can return to his treatise on universal healthcare and the reshaping of American culture and society.

The arrogance is nothing new; only it was on full display at last week’s healthcare summit.  Americans who had the weekday leisure hours (and infinite patience) to tune in saw in microcosm the raw conceit that is the defining quality of this administration’s approach, not just to the healthcare, but every policy debate.  Perhaps the campaign trail is where he first learned he could get away with it, and indeed he did.  Being derisive of conservatives and conservative ideas will always win you points with the broad-minded liberal media. 

But it is much more than that.  Arrogance towards opposing ideas and derision towards those who stand in opposition is really what Progressive Liberalism is all about.  “If you disagree with me, it is because you are stupid.” That is the basic mindset.  “And because you are stupid, I don’t need to listen to you, you need only do as I say.”  When his healthcare plan is rejected by two-thirds of the American public, it is not because it is a bad idea, but because the ignorant masses are just too dumb to understand it.  So he will try to explain it in simpler terms so that they can understand it.  And if they still don’t get it, then tough sh*t!  Elections have consequences. The last election was about “hope and change”, but did anyone stop to ask what that really means.  Now that the campaign is over (as we are constantly reminded) apparently hope and change really mean entitlement and transformation: the entitlement of the governing elite to transform the society of the governed.

... or else!

This is the nature of Progressivism and, historically, has been the political approach of Progressives in America since the beginning of the twentieth century.  The governed are not to be listened to, but instead instructed by the governing elite in matters of health, wealth and general welfare.  Only the governing Progressive elites, having superior education and understanding, are qualified to fathom the multifarious aspects of daily life in an increasingly complex society.  It is they, therefore, who are best suited to make decisions for the average American citizen, who will only screw things up for himself.  Only the Progressives are capable of brininging about much needed change through the implementation of a whole raft of government programs.  And yet, none of the programs of the Progressives are based on any grasp of reality, but rather on an imagined vision of the future.  It is a vision of how to change reality.  A vision of a society reshaped and reordered in their image.  And once power is gained, that hoped for vision becomes expectation.  And the nearer the goal of the vision’s realization, the more expectation grows into entitlement.  Healthcare for all is now something to which we are entitled.  Healthcare is now a right.  In an America where rights are still defined under the Constitution and are God-given, this line of thinking is nothing short of arrogance: the arrogance of hope.

But the approach of the Progressives is not without its consequences, at least as long as we still live in a Democratic Republic.  Last week, average Americans finally got a long look at their methods and, in that sense at least, the healthcare summit did some good.  Regardless of how things play out over the coming weeks and months, there is always the ballot box, where Americans as voters will at last be able to send arrogance back from whence it came: the world of academia, where it doesn’t matter much.

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27 Responses to “The Arrogance of Hope”

  1. urbisaereperennius Says:

    Most of the industrialized world thinks health care is a human right, as does a portion of American society ( although you would probably disagree as to the size ). Universal health care is part of the Democratic Party platform and has been for decades; the democratically voted majority party (for the time being). Given these facts the tone of surprise and shock, intermixed with anger, that health care reform is being voted on by representatives of the people is a bit baffling.

    • culturecrusader Says:

      Most of the world thinks alot of things that are decidedly un-American, including healthcare as a human right. Healthcare, by definition, cannot be a human right. A right is something that you already possess, naturally and God-given if you will. It is not something that is granted to you by some government entity, though it certainly can be taken away. Look at it this way, if a so-called right requires someone else to do something or give something to you, i.e., guaranteed care when you are sick, then it is not a right. It is a good.

  2. Dave Denoy Says:

    Holy Cow!

    I see now why my post disagreeing with you on the Oscars hasn’t passed muster and stays stuck in moderation. You are nothing more than a right wing parrot who cares nothing for the facts. Snarkiness is cool, as long as you apply it uniformly. If you want to lambaste arrogance, let’s take look at the Bush presidency for what may become the textbook definition of the arrogance of uncontrolled power. You cannot defend unnecessary wars, looting of the treasury by wealthy individuals and corporations and foreign policy conducted by people who crave endless war. Is it an inconvenient historical fact that Republicans have demonstrated for the past 30 years that they are incapable of governing? Did you actually watch the entire health care summit? Did the Republican dominated Congress care a whit for process when they rode roughshod over the Constitution from 1984 to 2004? Did Bush/Cheney regard their actions infringing on the rights of AMERICANS as arrogant? Do you!!!???

    • culturecrusader Says:

      Look you egotistical moron, the world does not revolve around you. Believe it or not, I have a life beyond sitting in front of a computer and “moderating” your inane comments. And what’s with all the impassioned defense of Hollywood? What are you George Clooney’s press agent or something? Finally, yes, I did watch the entire healthcare summit and to any objective observer it was an exercise in Liberal-Progressive arrogance. Which was fine by me because it gave any interested American a good ugly look at this President, his cronies and how they operate. As for Bush and his policies, I refer you to my post: Economics 101.

      • Dave Denoy Says:

        uhhh. that would be NARCISSISTICAL moron, sir, and it most certainly does! 🙂

        So you watched the whole thing and yet missed the parts where Obama kept trying to bring the conversation to where they could agree, an not so unreasonable approach given that there are a significant number of Republican contributions in the current House and Senate versions. The Republicans, however, didn’t come to discuss… they cam to dismantle and stop the process. Using the stacks of paper that are the bill as ‘props’ to convey complexity which in the mind of the followers of the Right equates to scariness, to unworkability, to fill-in-the-blank-fear. If the GOP actually wrote their own proposal, are we supposed to believe that it would be a three page essay in plain simple language that would cover an issue as complex as health care? Hmmm…. with the laws of the land written as convoluted as they are and where you need to close every loophole you can think of, how could theirs be anything but a huge stack of paper? Unless their solution is a simple ‘pay for the care or die’ proposal. I that compassionate conservatism at work?

    • culturecrusader Says:

      Dave you ignorant slut,
      With the exception of few bathroom breaks (and maybe that’s when those brief kumbaya moments you speak of occurred) I in fact did watch the whole damn thing and any idiot could’ve seen it was a complete joke and charade. If the Obama-Pelosi-Reid troika were truly interested in bi-partisan problem solving that is how they would’ve begun the process, not ended it. But that’s not how you Progressives think, is it? It is rather: if you happen to think the way I do (i.e., that government and only government can cure what ails the nation) then fine, otherwise get out of the way because we are doing it anyway. Change, or else!

      • Dave Denoy Says:

        where were the nay-saying Republicans for the past year? if they put a fraction of the energy they spent scaring people (provoking an elderly woman to proclaim. “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”) into working on healthcare, you’d see GENUINE bipartisanship. But instead, they started out the year 2009 with a united front to oppose everything Obama. It’s not about governing – it’s about power. Of course, the GOP doesn’t really believe in bipartisanship. Just look at the 19 times they reconciliation to railroad war funding (off-budget funding so the deficits wouldn’t appear as bad as they really were) and other points of their agenda. It’s the people who live in glass houses thing.

  3. urbisaereperennius Says:

    Accepting the principal, for the sake of argument, that if it isn’t literally in the US Constitution it must be ‘un-American’, and ignoring too the nearly 100 million citizens who if polled would most likely think of health care as universal right, I’m willing to bet that even if a constitutional amendment was passed by the votes of a majority of the people in the majority of the states that health care was a universal right, you probably would still think it was “un-American” because of your personal opinion about what rights God gave and which he has not. Personally, I thought no belief or thought held by any American was “un-American” since this was a free country with free thought and free speaking.

    • culturecrusader Says:

      I believe you are confusing the right of every American to free speech, as guaranteed under the First Amendment, with the quality and nature of an individual American’s speech, belief, thought, etc. which in many instances can be decidedly un-American. Just look at some of the blogs connected to this web service. But the service itself, and the free exchange of ideas that you and I and everyone else engage in on here is about as American as it gets!

      As for everything needing to be literally in the Constitution to be “American”, that’s not what I said. What I said is that rights are not granted to us Americans by the government. They are guaranteed to us under the Constitution (and its adjudicated progeny) which is a document written by and for THE PEOPLE. You know, “WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

      Moreover, it is very clear when reading the Bill of Rights that nothing there is being given to Americans that they don’t already have within their natural power to possess. Rather, it is a list of things the government shall not do to infringe upon these rights: “Congress shall make no law…” this right “shall not be infringed” this other right “shall not be violated”

      Thus, the belief that everyone deserves healthcare as a “right” guaranteed by the government (and, by the way, paid for by your fellow citizens through their tax dollars) is simply not in accord with the tradition of American political thought, philosophy and the letter and spirit of the Constitution. What about food? Is it the job of the government to provide us all with food? If we get healthcare, then surely we need to have food. What about housing? How about a car for every family? What about high-speed Internet access for all? (Don’t laugh, this is actually being debated.) While these things may all be humanitarian ideas, they are at odds with American political thought and traditions.

      Now, there are indeed constitutions that have, in fact, guaranteed healthcare as a fundamental right. Here’s one:

      Article 42. Citizens [… ] have the right to health protection.
      This right is ensured by free, qualified medical care provided by state health institutions; by extension of the network of therapeutic and health-building institutions; by the development and improvement of safety and hygiene in industry; by carrying out broad prophylactic measures; by measures to improve the environment; by special care for the health of the rising generation, including prohibition of child labor, excluding the work done by children as part of the school curriculum; and by developing research to prevent and reduce the incidence of disease and ensure citizens a long and active life.

      That comes from the U.S.S.R.’s Constitution of Fundamental Rights, as amended in 1977.

      As far as polling Americans about whether healthcare does or does not constitute a right, I think most Americans do not really comprehend the ramifications to such a response unless they are forced to do so. Americans, just like others around the world, are a compassionate people and a response to a mere poll question would be emotionally driven. However if, as you suggest, we were to have a full-blown national debate about a Constitutional amendment making healthcare a right, then Americans would indeed be forced to consider all sides and I submit to you that such a proposal would be defeated as, dare I say, un-American.

      • Dave Denoy Says:

        Maybe it comes from the great American value of compassion and caring for those who have less. Remember when we were the shining beacon of light for the world? Not just in terms of liberty but in giving. Now I’m not so naive that I don’t realize there was also the element of self interest in helping folk. Of particular note are the economic hitmen who would convince foreign governments to enter into hugely expensive infrastructure and industrial plans with the promise of trickle down benefits to the citizenry but made sure that these lucrative contracts would go to American firms and frequently, it’s the local populations that suffer from the pollution and exploitation of these multinational corporations. I don’t know about you but I have a problem with corporations having greater access to the corridors of power than us regular folk.

  4. culturecrusader Says:

    Yes, Dave, but then you have to ask yourself how we got to be that shining beacon. Certainly not by a collective edict that we give away things, and certainly not by becoming like the rest of the world. What makes us the beacon (and I still believe we can be that) is that we are decidedly different from the rest of the world. Where other nations have meddled, restrained, oppressed and enslaved, America has unleashed the creative human spirit and set its people free to create, innovate, build, grow and pursue success and happiness in every conceivable way.

    It is this uniquely American way that has created the enormous wealth and living standards that we enjoy today and that, frankly, allows us to be compassionate when and if we want to (as opposed to some government leader saying we have to, or that we’re not patriotic enough if we don’t.) But be warned, compassion all by itself is not necessarily a good thing. You know the old saying, “Teach a man to fish” If you always give him a fish, he never learns.

    So, we didn’t get there by giving it all away. Individual liberty is what got us there: the individual’s liberty to create, the individual’s liberty to pursue unfettered enterprises, the individual’s liberty to invest and to innovate and to reap profits, the individual’s liberty to fail, and yes, the liberty to give it all away if that is an individual’s choice.

    As for corporations having access to corridors of power, I take it you are referring to Mr. Obama granting such access to pharmaceutical companies, banks and law firms without any so-called transparency correct?

    • Dave Denoy Says:

      No, I’m referring to the recent Supreme Court decision granting corporations unlimited funding for political candidates. We know that bombardment of ads in the last week of a close election can sway on-the-fence voters by raising a measure of doubt. The ads don’t have to be true and can in fact say almost anything against a candidate who might not be so pro business. The candidate will not have the time or resources to respond adequately and the ad campaign can in effect buy the election for the preferred candidate. We need LESS money in the political process not MORE. This can work against your side as well so I’d think you’d be in favor of limiting funds for campaigns.

      Being what made us the shining beacon was a mixture of generosity, self-interest and leading by example. Our freedoms were an inspiration to the world. But when we engage arrogantly with the world with an emphasis on self-interest and act in an obviously hypocritical manner with hubris and imperial intent, then we lose the high moral ground. The world has seen many conquerors in may forms. Just because other nations have at their turn at imperial bat doesn’t dictate that we must also have our turn.

      For every time you throw out Obama’s name, I can hurl back Bush/Cheney/Reagan a dozen times. ALL politicians have compromised their integrity because of the influence of money in the system. If there was a true grass roots movement to change the system we might do a lot to correct this. The people can be a powerful force when they work in unison. Instead we are divided – engaged in these trivial culture wars that serve to keep the People off balance and disunited.

      An educated population is much more difficult to control than one in which the message is controlled. Anti-intellectualism has reached dangerous levels in this country. Educated people are ridiculed and facts and truth are shouted down with falsehoods and a complete disregard for reality. This trend is not very different from the murder of intellectuals and professors in totalitarian dictatorships. Eliminate the facts and you can manipulate the populations however you wish.

      As for being like the rest of the world, we don’t have a monopoly on all the correct answers. There are things that work very well in other countries and it isn’t a sign of weakness or socialism nor is it un-American. We can learn from others as they can learn from us. That makes the world a ore cooperative place, a stronger place – one less likely to become unstable because everyone’s interests are jeopardized by destabilizing behaviors. There are parts of universal health care systems that we can adopt without becoming ‘like’ another country.

      Unfettered would imply equal opportunity. But that is becoming an endangered proposition as the wealthiest in our society have greater opportunity than those who don’t have legacy wealth or investment opportunity or the wherewithal to leverage their limited monies. Most Americans are wage slaves. Most do not have entrepreneurial instincts nor the DNA to start heir own businesses. Coupled with the competition crushing force of the mega-corporations (Walmart, for example), the regular Joe (not the plumber) doesn’t stand a chance.

      I’m all for teaching the man to fish. It is the only tru path to success. But I can’t teach him if he can’t afford the education – don’t even get me started on what has happened to the education system. That’s another war of words where I suspect we’ll have more in common rather than less – equal opportunity is a nice, warm fuzzy slogan but the reality is very different. And it is getting worse.

      Happiness in EVERY conceivable way? I don;t think we have the tolerance in this country to permit this. Gay marriage rights. Anyone who doesn’t subscribe to a particular religious view. Racism (a black man in the White House doesn’t eliminate this problem). Your culture wars are diametrically and adamantly opposed to us achieving that which you say makes us great.

      We have our unique way of doing things. Let’s put that American ingenuity to work on problem solving together – that’s what made this country the shining beacon. That’s what generate wealth and a better standard of living for all. That’s what restores balance to the culture and unites us all in common purpose.

  5. urbisaereperennius Says:

    hum. Were the Anti-Federalists more American, or more un-American, for opposing the Constitution?

    • culturecrusader Says:

      I presume you’re talking about those early American statesmen who opposed ratification of the U.S. Constitution and instead favored retaining the anarchic system that existed under the Articles of Confederation. While they were American in their methods, their ultimate goals were un-American inasmuch as they opposed the system that was to be and still is the law of the land, to wit: a Federal Republic. I will however add this one caveat: since, at the time, the Constitution had not as yet been ratified and, hence, had not been officially estabished as the American system of government, there was no settled American tradition to be, well, un-American about. Does that make any sense?

    • culturecrusader Says:

      By the way, I’ve decided to make this little debate we’re having about what is and is not a right in America the subject of my next post! -CC

  6. urbisaereperennius Says:

    No, it doesn’t. There already was a Declaration of Independence. And I thought their arguments for limited government would appear ‘Ultra’ American to you, but then again, since it opposed the current Federalist system, you would therefore be forced to call obvious patriots in the war against the English un-American. What a tragedy it is to discover known patriots, who strongly believed in small government, to be actually un-American in their goals! And to think phenomena persists to this very day, where American statesmen with the most American methods of voting and elected representation, can have such un-American goals for the future of the country!

    • culturecrusader Says:

      Again, I think you are confused about some things. In this case, I think you are confusing what a person says or believes with who they are. The views an individual espouses at a particular place and time in history do not, perforce, define who they are. Someone can hold a view that is totally un-American and yet still be American, and even a patriotic American. I have no doubt that Barrack Obama is as patriotically American as anybody else in this country. But I am also quite certain that the majority of the views that he holds with regard to the direction the country should go towards, for example enacting universal healthcare, are very un-American. Likewise, the individuals you are referring to, the Anti-Federalists, people like Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, etc., were without question people who felt strongly about America and the general welfare of Americans, in short, they were patriots. But the stance they took in opposition to the creation of a Federal Republic was, in retrospect, quite un-American. Essentially they wanted to continue the system as it existed under the Articles of Confederation. Yes, it ideally endeavored to bring about a system of limited government but resulted in virtually no government – or at least no central government – the result being near anarchy, and abject failure. Is anarchy and failure the American way? That said, some of the principles of limited government that actually worked under the Articles were retained under the Constitution—things like states’ rights etc. There is also evidence that some of the views of the Anti-Federalists worked their way into the Bill of Rights. To that extent, some of the things the Anti-Federalists believed in and espoused were very much American.

      And it’s not a tragedy. We don’t all always have to agree, nor should we always agree. On the contrary, the disagreements and the voicing of them in public forums are what make us American. There are opposite sides to arguments and sometimes they divide along lines of one side being in accord with traditional American thought and the other side advocating for another newer way of doing things. Does that mean that the folks on one side are American and on the other are un-American? I’ve held views myself that, looking back on it now, I think were quite un-American. (I was young and stupid then and thought with my heart instead of my head.) Does that mean I was un-American then, but am American now? Of course not.

    • culturecrusader Says:

      One more thing. You mention the Declaration of Independence, probably the most eloquent political document ever drafted. There was indeed not a lot to go on for these early American patriots. No form of government like the one they were about to create had ever existed on Earth. Well, in pertinent part, the Declaration states as follows:

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

      The form of government under the Articles of Confederation was a failure and had become “destructive of these ends” of securing the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The framers of the Constitution were thus going by the only extant American political document as their guide and were entirely within that framework when they replaced the Articles with the Constitution. And if they didn’t get it right, they would’ve been within their rights to replace that with something else. And again that with something else until they got it right. But, as fate would have it, they did get it right, the first time.

      • Dave Denoy Says:

        Eloquence indeed. The mind and pen of Thomas Jefferson – who was just cut from the curriculum as the Texas School Board decided that his inspirational writings should be stricken from the history books in favor of John Calvin (whose teachings are a cornerstone of capitalism) , St. Thomas Aquinas (man cannot do anything without God’s help) and William Blackstone (all about property ownership rights and religious intolerance against Catholics). All these guys, except Blackmore, preceded Jefferson by hundreds of years. Jefferson – who coined the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ isn’t very popular amongst conservatives. So since you can’t win the argument through ideas than simply win by suppressing the other side of the argument. You CANNOT praise the Declaration AND condone this blatant rewriting of history – not if you truly believe in the greatness of America and it’s founding ideals.

  7. urbisaereperennius Says:

    I don’t know man, that’s a lot of logic pretzels you’re having to bake in order to hang ‘un-American’ sobriquet on the views of patriots. Maybe you’d just be better off dropping such an un-American debating tactic as labeling other Americans views un-American, but that’s just this one American’s opinion.

    Just don’t forget when you argue that today’s traditions were yesterday’s revolutions. I think that will help keep a positive tone and healthy, humble perspective.

    • culturecrusader Says:

      Well, I was going to use an analogy to Goldilocks and the Three Bears… but point taken. Perhaps “un-American” isn’t the best word choice. By the way, I just posted a new piece that is somewhat related to this and which you may find of interest.

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