One of the hallmarks of the modern progressive movement is the inability to see a political dilemma from the opposite side. We must give credit where credit is due. A progressive can be single minded and truly orthodox, truly fundamentalist in his or her devotion to an issue. But that single-mindedness can cause ethical blindness.
For example, a in 2009 Playboy published a list on the magazine blog that detailed the conservative women the writer would most like to, well I’ll paraphrase: sexually assault. It wasn’t titled that way, but to give the title I’d have to be base and lewd. Suffice it to say, the author felt that certain conservative women were deserving of a little sexual aggression. The magazine took the post down pretty quickly, but it was out there. And it was there because progressives can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t tolerate hatred and threats against the moronic conservatives they view with such revulsion.
Fast forward. When the IRS scandal first broke, I saw some of the comments posted in the New York Times, that bastion of journalistic integrity, where the best and the brightest pursue truth and the readers bask in their intellectual and cultural superiority. The reader’s comments, in a nutshell, were this: ‘So what. It’s the Tea Party and they deserve it.’ Most of the comments suggested that those posting them were utterly unable to step back and ask, ‘what if Bush had been in office and it had been the DNC, Planned Parenthood, Occupy, The American Communist Party or some leftist organization?’ And they certainly suggested those posting were unable to make any connection between this scandal and Watergate, which should be a mental slam-dunk.
Why not? Because to the progressive, that wouldn’t make any sense. Nobody would target the left, and if they did it would be fascism! A conservative nut-job President should never be allowed to persecute enlightened groups. But it is the duty of a liberal president, and his entire administrative apparatus, to do the same to conservatives. Most of us consider this and say, ‘what’s the difference?’ But the doctrinaire leftist cannot reach across the chasm to see the similarity.
In the same way, activist courts are unconstitutional when they lean right but ‘on the right side of history’ when they lean left. When legislators forced Obamacare down the American gullet they were acting for our good. When legislators failed to pass unnecessary gun control, they were cowards in the pocket of the NRA.
The American progressive is in many ways a creature of Machiavelli. The progressive sees the end, and the means is irrelevant even if it results in inconsistency and oppression. We all want our side to win. That’s the American way. And in the end, each side wins some and loses some. Also the American way. But it’s the intellectual exercise of consistent inconsistency that I find most troubling.
Where will it lead? This current tsunami of scandal is a great laboratory for the question. Can progressives look at the AP scandal, the IRS scandal, the EPA scandal, the Benghazi scandal and actually question the man who has been billed as the very Messiah of the movement? It will be difficult. Conservatives like me are always asked to repudiate those of our number who do, and say, stupid things; often they deserve it, if only because they can be careless and thoughtless. It doesn’t make it any easier to face the truth of your own movement’s failings…or crimes.
Perhaps there’s a way we can make it easier. Many of us who wave the conservative flag are religious. As such, we dwell in a culture, and in an era, where faith and science must coexist and adapt. Progressives often say to us: ‘look at the evidence! Look at the science!’ And we must. We can still hold to our faith, but sometimes we have to think about it long and hard. In the end, in my experience, there is no inconsistency. But not to ask, not to look, is disingenuous.
So it’s the turn of progressives, to whom I say. Look at the evidence. Be scientific. Be honest. But most importantly, be open to change. Isn’t that what we’re always told?
But if not, then perhaps this one will work. ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ And if you wouldn’t want your guys spied on, your team taxed and harassed, your Constitution (our Constitution) ignored and trampled, then be willing to lower the hammer on the lies and deception that fester in today’s political class. I’ll do the same on my side; isn’t that fair?