Mazzuca: The left-right continuum
Have you enjoyed the recent government-imposed stay-at-home orders? I sure haven’t; and while extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures, the fact remains our freedoms have been impinged upon.
So the question we should ask ourselves once we move beyond this crisis is how much control over our daily lives do we want the government to have? I would like to see it minimized; many feel otherwise. And it’s those opposing viewpoints regarding the role and size of government that epitomizes the left-right debate in this country.
In any discussion it’s essential to define one’s terms, and to do so I’m going to illustrate left-right ideology graphically. We can begin by taking a blank sheet of paper and drawing a straight horizontal line across it and writing the words “government has total control over society” under the extreme left point of the line and under the extreme right point write, “government has no control over society.”
By using this simple line graph we can place those who favor greater government control of society somewhere along the left side of this ideological continuum and those favoring less government control somewhere along the right side. And with the exception of abortion, the issue where Democrats and Republicans have exchanged views on government’s role regarding this topic, this is perhaps the clearest way to express ideology in the only terms that really matter, i.e., how much control over society does any given ideology seek.
Many on the left believe the government should be the most dominant force in society with examples like Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, etc. They believe government should provide health care, regulate business and energy, control education and that no power or social authority should compete with it — not religious institutions, not business, not even parents.
Meanwhile, history has provided two excellent examples of ideologies seeking to dominate society — fascism (including Germany’s Nazis) and communism. These ideologies are not polar opposites, as some would have us believe, but rather these ideologies are first cousins. Both are utopian visions of the future whose governing philosophies demand total control of society. Each has inserted governmental authority into every nook and cranny of daily life — determining wages, confiscating guns, spending vast sums on public education, seizing inherited wealth, controlling the distribution of health care and restricting the marketplace. It’s impossible to go any further to the left ideologically speaking than complete government control of society.
Conservative talk show host Dennis Prager commented that as government increases its control over society, individual liberty diminishes. And that’s not an opinion or a criticism — it’s common sense, the example being, the more a government exercises control over its citizens the less liberty its citizens have.
More government also means more taxation, which is the gateway drug to the welfare state. It’s axiomatic that the more money the state hands out, the more money people demand. Doubt that? Has anyone ever heard of a recipient of government largess say, “Thank you, I have enough?”
But the greatest menace big controlling governments present can be expressed in the following sentence: The greater the control a government has over a society the greater the opportunity for it to do great harm. For evidence look no further than the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Red China during the 20th Century. As the saying goes, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and therein lay my fear of big government. Yes, I used hyperbolic examples to illustrate my point, but has anyone ever heard of a limited government causing harm to humankind?
Many on the left rail about corporate greed and the evils of Wall Street, but General Motors can’t send FBI agents armed with automatic weapons to arrest you in your home at 4 a.m., nor can Walmart put people in cattle cars and ship them off to concentration camps or gulags — only government can do that.
We need government to build and maintain infrastructure, defend our borders, and respond to national emergencies. But government never relinquishes power voluntarily, making it imperative to ask ourselves how much control over our daily lives are we willing to hand over to politicians and bureaucrats?”
Government is a political accretion disk absorbing everything within its orbit. And having had our lives restricted so drastically these last weeks, it’s imperative we ask ourselves two simple questions: What types of restrictions are we willing tolerate in the future? And is individual liberty less important to those who favor big government than to those who favor limited government?
Quote of the day: “When everyone gets a trophy no one learns how to lose.” — William J. O’Reilly
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.