Posts Tagged ‘progressivism’

The Arrogance of Hope

March 4, 2010

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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Glenn Beck’s CPAC Speech: Tiger Woods and Toilet bowls, a Blackboard and Brilliance

February 27, 2010
 

Glenn Beck at CPAC

In an America that has grown up in a hurry – some might say too much of a hurry – Glenn Beck is someone saying “hold on just a minute.”  In Beck’s stirring speech before CPAC this past weekend (he was last Saturday’s keynote speaker) the conservative political commentator showcased his brilliance not merely as an orator but as the maestro of a mass movement disaffected toward the present state of American politics and big government.  In his delivery, Beck is at turns funny, flamboyant, histrionic, sarcastic and just plain brilliant.  In an age of teleprompters and cunningly crafted sound bites, Beck at all times speaks from the heart.

Beck is a Constitutional purist: a true believer in the great men who founded this country.  He believes that those men of genius got it right from the start and still have it right today: that America is an idea—an idea that sets people free.  And so Beck is a believer in all the greatness that was and still can be America.  His speech begins with a fond remembrance of Ronald Reagan (himself a former and frequent keynote speaker at CPAC) and the conservative President’s “Morning in America” slogan.  As bad as things seem, Beck assures us that it is still morning in America, albeit one where we are all hung-over and gripping the toilet bowl after the excesses of the previous night’s binge.

Beck is a self-taught student of history and a believer in the lessons it has to teach those who would only seek to learn from it.  In particular, Beck warns time and again about the unfortunate history of Progressives and the Progressive movement in America.  At CPAC, he actually had his trusty blackboard hauled out onto the stage so he could write out the word: Progressives.  “This is the disease!” Beck exclaims.  Progressives and Progressivism are the cancer that is eating away at America and the American Constitution.  It is a big government socialist utopia that must be eradicated.  The two (the Constitution and Progressivism), says Beck, cannot coexist, and the country needs big thinkers and brave people “with spines” to combat the Progressive disease.  But Beck, speaking to his conservative and pro-Republican audience, is not convinced that the Republican Party is even up to that challenge.  Drawing parallels to Tiger Woods, he says he still hasn’t seen a sincere “come to Jesus” style mea culpa from Republican leaders who, like a recovering alcoholic (which Beck himself is), need to admit that they have a problem too (with too much government spending and too little integrity).  It’s not enough, Beck says, “just to not suck as much” as the Democrats.  Beck speaks often and passionately about the need to have leaders who won’t “check their souls at the door” when they take on the privilege and responsibilities of elected office.  In this respect, one could say Beck has taken on the mantle of a modern John the Baptist in search of his country’s messiah, and one wonders if he would ever consider the lead role for himself.

Beck concludes his CPAC speech with a brilliant exposition on the little known back-story connected to the Statue of Liberty.  He explains that the French didn’t simply gift it to the United States as a mere gesture of goodwill between nations.  But rather it was given with the ulterior motive of mocking their fellow Europeans at a time when Europe was in the midst of its own upheavals and soul searching.  Further, it was a statement of admiration, not to say envy, toward a new and dynamic nation that, after its first one-hundred years, was beginning to come into its own.  This is a strong message and counterpoint for today when our own leaders seem to be saying we should become more like Europe!

The true intent and meaning behind the Statue of Liberty becomes evident when one reads (as Beck does) the entire poem that is engraved within the pedestal on which the statue stands.  The full poem reads thus:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

—Emma Lazarus, 1883

The poet and critic James Russell Lowell wrote that the poem gave the Statue of Liberty its “raison d’être.”  Beck would undoubtedly agree, but would add that the poem transforms the statue from a fancy welcome mat for immigrants into a testament to the world of indelible hope and endless possibilities for all who might yearn to breathe free, including even those that the storied nations of Europe, with their old systems and internecine struggles, would discard.

As Glenn Beck and many others would see it, the Statue of Liberty is really what America is all about.  And America is an idea that sets people free.