Left and Right
©2012 Ross Williams
Nearly everyone who insists on discussing politics has an extremely limited view of which politics even exist. As a result, whenever they discuss politics around me and I set them straight, they typically come away either very confused or adamant that I am their ideological opposite.
I’ve said this before: I’m a lower-case-l libertarian. My ideological opposite is a statist tyrant. Since we don’t have many of those in the United States and have an excess of Democrats and Republicans instead, my political disagreements with either will be based entirely on whether the Democrat or Republican is spouting about that portion of their political philosophy which is correct.
And again ... “correct” in the specific manner by which our nation was constructed to operate, not in any theoretically arguable manner. If you want to argue political theory I will be the first to admit that libertarianism has huge faults – almost as many as either liberalism or conservatism has, in fact.
When the subject is political practicum, however, our nation was constructed to be a libertarian nation, where the government had limited authorities to deal with a very few issues, and to leave people the hell alone the rest of the time. This means that people are free to succeed or to fail as they see fit and as their talents would dictate, and to live pretty much how they choose to. Living how you choose does not mean that you must like how others live; and it certainly doesn’t mean that if you don’t like how someone else lives you’re entitled to do more than complain about it. You are effectively powerless to prevent others from living as they choose, to include harnessing the power of the government to effect limitations on others’ lives and liberties.
Our nation is supposed to be guided by the Rule of Liberty.
And when I remind others of this, they nearly always recoil in shock. “No, no!! Rule of LAW! You meant to say we have Rule of LAW!!”
No. I didn’t. And stop telling me what I meant. I will tell you what I meant and if you have any questions, ask them. Then listen to the answer and say “Okay, thank you; you’re right.”
Every tyrant on the face of the earth operates his tyranny under Rule of Law; Law is the first excuse for a despot conducting his despotism. “My hands are tied: the law requires us to do this...” Anyone who argues for Rule of Law separate from, or to the exclusion of, Rule of Liberty is justifying Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and the Emperor Caligula.
The distinction between our nation and every other is that our government was given very clear upper limits on what the State is allowed to make laws upon. The region beyond those upper limits is called “liberty”; the citizen’s ability to do as he pleases. Rule of Liberty requires Rule of Law, but it recognizes that there are many, many more areas that The Law is not allowed to touch than there are that it is.
It’s not really debatable. Read the Constitution. It’s fairly plain to see.
Democrats are correct about some things and very very wrong about others; Republicans are correct about some things and also very very wrong about others. And the government – because the nature of government is to collect power despite limitations placed on it – is wrong about almost everything; almost everything they do comes with another power-grab, however slight or well-intended.
Where Democrats and Republicans are both wrong is that they both believe – in their own philosophical ways – that the Constitution’s limits are not upper limits, but starting points. They both invert the Liberty Scale to read that a citizen is given the liberties which the government grants them at any particular time. The liberties the government grants are typically those which do not interfere with the government grasping more power for itself.
For example – and this is a recurrent discussion on the TSA website – the Constitution does not give the government the authority to interfere with citizens moving from place to place ... regardless how they might move. This, then, means that citizens have the right to move from place to place, by any means, without government interference – for any reason.
All this is to say that air travel is a citizen’s right. We have the right to fly that the government cannot unduly impede. Yet 9-11 occurred and many people became frightened of their own [and especially everyone else’s] shadows, and so the government established TSA to impede the flying public by making 100% of everyone at the airport undergo a warrantless [and therefore unreasonable] search in order to check for the 0.0000001% who intend harm to a flight. And they cover it all by declaring “flying is not a right ... you don’t see it in the Constitution, do you?”
Yes, actually, I do. The Ninth Amendment and the Tenth Amendment do not stutter.
Similarly, we also have the right to drive, contrary to the MADDists, and the cops and legislators they bought, who insist that “driving is not a right, it’s a privilege.” No, it’s not. The only privilege is for the government to govern at all as it requires, in our nation, the consent of those governed. And not the fleeting consent of a panicky population fretting about terrorists with box cutters, drunks, or child molesters, either, but the consent as defined by those who created the government in the first place. Until properly and legitimately amended, the consent of the governed is described as the upper limits of authority contained in the Constitution.
This is the long way around declaring that Democrats are generally correct about social liberalism. There is nothing in our Constitution which addresses what “marriage” is, what “life” is, or what proper sexual relations consist of; there’s no justification for the government to get involved except to enforce Equal Protection upon anyone who would seek to use the power of the state to limit how others want to marry, copulate or abort in ways the social conservatives find icky. It doesn’t matter what is icky; if the law allows one, it must allow all. That is the Rule of Liberty.
Likewise, it’s the long way around saying that the Republicans are more correct about matters involving money than Democrats are – they’re both wrong about a lot involving money, even most things, but Republicans are more right than Democrats; at least Republicans can be convinced periodically to stop spending money. Democrat? forget it. Fiscal liberalism – the tendency of the government, through law, to spend money on demographic-centered causes – is not authorized by the Constitution. Congress can only enact laws for those things the Constitution allows them to enact laws about; the allowances are in Article I, Section 8.
There is no “Old Age Pension” clause in A I, § 8 of the Constitution.
There is no “Poverty Assistance” clause in A I, § 8 of the Constitution.
There is no “Public Education” clause in A I, § 8 of the Constitution.
There is no “Food Safety” clause in A I, § 8 of the Constitution.
There is no “Transportation Safety” clause in A I, § 8 of the Constitution.
There is no “Medical Overseer and Benefits” clause in A I, § 8 of the Constitution.
There is no “Drunk Driving Remediation” clause in A I, § 8 of the Constitution.
There is no “Environmental Watchdog” clause in A I, § 8 of the Constitution.
There is no “Consumer Advocacy” clause in A I, § 8 of the Constitution.
Any laws Congress passes, any regulations the Administration imposes, to further these [and millions more] causes are essentially little more than bald attempts by the government to grab more power for itself over the lives of Americans, depriving them of liberty in the process, and buying the votes of those whose cause is furthered by the governmental compulsion of everyone else.
The government which obliterates property rights to impose nannying environmental regulations has bought the votes of those who want Mother Nature to have superior rights to the real people in whose name our government is supposed to operate.
The government which obliterates freedom from unreasonable search has bought the votes of those who fear the possibility that others’ freedom may be used in ways they find annoying or dangerous to the freedom’s user more often than to others.
Homosexuality makes a lot of people say, “Ewwwww!” And that’s fine. You don’t need to like it, and you can even be rude about saying so. But the government is supposed to be powerless to stop it. It’s supposed to be powerless to stop the rude denunciations of homosexuality, as well. It is further supposed to be obliged to ensure that, regardless of how anyone – even the majority – feels about it, homosexuals are treated identically under the law to everyone else. Also to be treated the same as everyone else under the law are those who denounce homosexuality and those who denounce homosexuality denouncers; they can both be rude to each other without incurring government involvement.
But this means that “gay marriage” is a non-issue; homosexuals are allowed to marry the person of their dreams the same as anyone else. The only way to properly prevent gays from marrying is to prevent anyone from marrying. ...or else amend the Constitution to declare that homosexuals are inferior citizens, which won’t happen. Too many Americans have learned that lesson.
Other “social conservative” pet beliefs get handled the same way.
And “fiscal liberalism” issues as well: unless you can point at a specific allowance for Congress to enact Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, Social Security, any of the “welfare” programs, the FDA, the TSA, or even Sarbanes-Oxley, ADA or HIPAA, then they possess no legitimacy and are voidable. You can argue that the purposes behind the various laws are well-intended, but you cannot argue that the Constitution allows them to be enacted. The Constitution is not the government’s starting point; it is the government’s upper limit. The only way to allow the government to enact all of these expensive and expansive laws is to amend the Constitution to give Congress more authority which, for most of these individual examples, probably would not happen. The IRS is the last properly-made federal authority of note.
Instead, what the government is required to do is build post roads and maintain a post office, which it is doing everything in its power to not do. With a deficit of almost one and a half trillion dollars this year alone, we’re boo-hooing over a US Postal Service that is going to lose $80 billion? That’s pocket lint.
Run the post office – every day of the week. Shut down almost everything else. Repair the roads that the mailman uses to carry mail around – which is all of them except for the bridge to that uninhabited Alaskan Island – and leave everyone the hell alone.
We are free ... to succeed or to starve, both, and it’s none of the government’s business which, and it’s not the government’s duty or obligation to pick any of us up when we fail. It doesn’t matter if we fail while small and we want Welfare, or if we fail when large and we want corporate bailouts. It doesn’t matter if we fail in our health, or in our retirement planning. The government was not defined to be our Mommy, or our wealthy uncle, either one. It was put there to protect us from foreigners, to keep others from deliberately hurting us, and to otherwise let us be.
Democrats want us to be left alone when the subject is social. Gay marriage? abortion? sodomy? Leave us alone! Treat us like responsible adults! Ahh, but the tables are turned quite rapidly when the subject turns fiscal: health care? financial assistance? regulatory watchdogs of every stripe? Do NOT leave us alone! Baby us; change our diapers and powder our bottoms!
Republicans believe we’re old enough to take financial risks but need help in choosing a spouse, having babies and what sex is too kinky to enjoy.
If only there were some way to combine the best of the Left with the best of the Right into a viable political philosophy that would meet the requirements of our defined government...
Oh, I nearly forgot ... there is. Lower-case-l libertarianism. Give us the government we were promised and not an inch more; give us the freedom we were promised and not an ounce less.