“When I was a child, I spoke as a child,
I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became an adult, I put away childish things.“
– 1 Corinthians 13:11
I am conservative by nature but not always by how I vote and throughout my life I have voted for both Conservatives and for Liberals. I tend to vote for whomever I believe demonstrates the most common sense at the time or failing that being an available option, whoever I believe will do the least damage to the country, the province or the city in which I live.
In my experience, both the right and the left have had their share of corruption, dishonesty, lack of vision and vested self-interest but lately it seems that it is the left that has become more disengaged from reality.
It has become fashionable, especially on the left, to declare that labels like right and left are dead. Whether that is true or not, a rose by any other name is still a rose and so is a pig. Part of the right in the United States now likes to call itself the Tea Party and in Canada, the right fled the Progressive Conservative label opting for Reform Party then the Canadian Alliance only to finally settle, just a few years ago, on a new name, The Conservative Party of Canada. It seems like an awful lot of effort to me just to basically arrive back where you started.
For their part, the left has sub-divided into a variety of labels including Labour Party, Liberal, New Democratic Party and Democrats but regardless of the various political party labels, the left has tried, by and large, to brand itself with the word ‘progressives’.
Irrespective of what they now call themselves, there was a time when the left in most democracies stood for protecting the vulnerable, the disadvantaged and for trying to create what one former Canadian Liberal prime minister referred to as a ‘Just Society’. Those days appear to be gone.
Today it has degenerated into strident, intolerant and self-obsessed and loosely allied factions more interested in clinging to their entitlements than in advancing the welfare of the most disadvantaged or of working together to build a stronger, more prosperous and successful society.
Where they once stood up for the under-privileged and disadvantaged, progressives now fight for better pay and benefits for teachers and union workers. Where it once had a fundamental respect for democracy, it now puts its view of its own right to free speech, freedom of assembly and protest ahead of the same rights for others. Too many progressives have little respect for the property rights of others and while it is a minority that does the actual rioting and vandalism, they are encouraged by progressive activist groups, unions, civil rights organizations and others whenever the bad boys and girls hit the streets.
Progressives are always quick to blame the police for brutality and to defend the rights of rioters to demonstrate but very slow to condemn the destruction of private and public property or the breaking of the law during a riot.
There was a time when the left spoke up for the rights of all, now it speaks up only for its own.
The progressive ideology is one that has failed to learn from its own history. It promotes a culture of victimization and sees itself as the victims of everything from global warming to Wall Street. Progressives portray rail and yell about how they are victimized by oppressive governments (most of whom are or have been left-leaning governments for which they voted), by Christians, corporations, smokers, universities, doctors, fur trappers, police brutality, the wealthy, a successful resource-based economy, pipelines, anyone who is pro-life or who wants to discuss when life begins, Israel and a thousand other threats; real and imagined.
At the end of the day, progressives are about blame not solutions and the proof of that is in their own record. In Canada, it is the left that has formed the federal government for all but about 16 of the last 40 years. What does it have to show for its management? Not much.
Their understanding of the economy is so adolescent that it boggles the mind. In Canada, the NDP managed to run the economy of Ontario into the ground in just four years. Since then, the current Liberal government has taken what was once Canada’s economic engine and turned it into a have-not province that actually receives the equivalent of welfare payments from the federal government and which has been put on a credit watch by major bond rating agencies.
Some progressives point to the economic record of the Liberal government during the 90’s and early 2000’s as proof of economic management and to some extent they’re correct. The Chretien government did balance the budget but only by reneging on a campaign promise to eliminate the Goods and Services Tax and by slashing funding to health care and other social programs that progressives instituted in the first place.
In the U.S., the situation isn’t any different. The current progressive leadership of Barrack Obama made the same promise that all progressives make; his administration would change things and he did. He has successful ly changed the $7.5 trillion deficit he inherited from a Republican president into a $15 trillion deficit and in less than four years.
Through it all, progressive administrations have increased the size and cost of the public sector on the backs of taxpayers and at the expense of the private sector where all a nation’s true wealth originates.
Their record on health care isn’t much better.
President Obama introduced a health care program informally referred to as Obama Care which is anything but universal, has seen many Americans lose their private insurance and which cherry-picks the health care services for which it will pay.
In Canada, where universal health care is a cherished program, it is progressives who have done the most damage to the system. It was the Liberal government of Jean Chretien that slashed health care spending and it was a conservative government that not only restored those funds but provided a guaranteed increase in annual funding to the provinces for the next decade.
In Ontario, it is a Liberal premier who is attacking doctors, slashing $1 billion from their fee structure in order to save his treasured $1.5 billion full-day kindergarten program which is nothing more than free day care. The premier has stated that the cut in doctors’ fees is necessary because of the province’s dismal economic circumstance but less than two week’s after making the announcement, he found $350 million for new spending where a bi-election is to be held. This is what progressives now consider ethical politics.
The left progressive agenda has claimed the environment as its most important cause. It has elevated climate change and sustainable energy almost into a cult-religion. But here too, the progressive agenda has failed repeatedly.
Perhaps this no more spectacularly illustrated than with the Kyoto Accord. Progressives were outraged that the conservatives scrapped the agreement and I am hard pressed to understand why. It was a Liberal prime minister who signed the Kyoto Accord and then promptly tucked it away on the shelf for his three terms in office. In other words, the left when it had its hands on the levers of power, did nothing beyond attend a conference, sign a piece of paper and then pose for the photo op.
Indeed, it was during those same three terms of Liberal environmental concern that green house gas emissions rose by 17% in Canada while they dropped by 2% under the Republican administration of George Bush.
It was a slap in the face to the much vaunted progressive approach to environmental protection, that the Sierra Club of Canada awarded former PM Brian Mulroney, a conservative, recognition for being the greenest prime minister in Canadian history.
PETA, which considers itself very progressive, kills more animals than the Humane Society and the SPCA combined, all the while lecturing the rest of the world on the ethical treatment of animals.
The Occupy Movement, goaded on and supported by progressives has terrorized and vandalized public and private property. It has put children at risk, condoned rape, disease and illegal drug use within its former camps. It routinely shouts down others, often flash mobbing a meeting to disrupt and trample their to free speech and freedom of assembly. It has vandalized churches, stood in solidarity with convicts in San Quentin and violated almost every tenet in which most progressives claim to believe. None of this has prevented the progressive left from supporting this self-indulgent temper-tantrum of destructive violence.
In Canada, Human Rights Tribunals sit in judgment of disputes between parties over issues like discrimination. These kangaroo courts which were introduced by progressive governments deny the defendant’s constitutional right to presumption of innocence and even go so far as to provide financial support to the complainant for legal assistance but not a nickel to the accused.
Progressives refer to this as fair and equitable in the same way that they demand that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes but support the fact that unions pay no tax whatsoever on membership dues or the investment income made from those dues. The progressive view of the world is a little like Animal Farm. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.
Celebrities take a few moments away from their privileged lifestyles to fly in to voice their concern and even outrage over a pipeline, carbon emissions, tuition costs or whatever was on the front page this morning. They get their pictures taken, pontificate for the media, sign a few autographs and then jet off for the next film festival, concert tour or court appearance for drug use, shop lifting or just being a general pain in the ass.
No issue seems too trivial for the left these days. It is progressives in the New York City Dept. Of Education who banned words like dancing, dinosaur and bodily functions from all testing and it is the left that is offended by words like Christmas and Halloween.
In her book Atlas Shrugged, Ms Rand predicted that the left would eventually destroy modern society by elevating mediocrity, political correctness and self-righteous attacks on the wealthy to fund their entitlements. Quite frankly, while I enjoyed the book, I thought she was wrong. I found her characterization of the left to be a characature of reality and her hypothesis more than just a bit extreme. I didn’t accept her basic premise because I didn’t believe anyone could be that stupid.
I was wrong.
The thinking on the left has become adolescent, shallow and intolerant. It is increasingly being expressed hysterically in our streets at the expense of the success and well-being of our communities and our nations. The left is angry at everything and everyone, sometimes justifiably but increasingly over losing entitlements for groups within its collective. It has become strident, bellicose and ill-informed on almost every major cause or issue it embraces and rejects any information, opinion or proven fact which contradicts its version of reality.
The left bullies, threatens, attacks, demeans, ridicules and pouts. When all else fails, it takes to the street or supports and encourages others to take to the streets in an attempt to win its point.
It uses mob tactics on social media to attack and silence those who hold contrary opinions and who exercise their right to voice those opinions.
Virtually every issue is elevated to a crisis and divergent opinion is taken as a personal slight. Some days it almost appears as if many progressives are looking for reasons to be offended.
The left has become thoughtless, academically dishonest and intellectually lazy.They are inconsistent to the point of being schizophrenic.
It is the left that took up arms against cigarette smoking while at the same time advocating the legalization of smoking marijuana and setting up safe inhalation rooms for the smoking of crack cocaine. In the name of conserving energy and protecting the environment, is the left that promoted the use of those funny little spermatozoa-like light bulbs from China despite the fact that they consume more energy in their manufacture and shipping than they save in their use or that they contain lead which ends up in our landfills.
According to the dictionary, progressive is defined as advocating or implementing social reform or new liberal ideas. They are misnamed. There are no new ideas on the left and no social reform. There is only a constant demand for more entitlement for special interest groups on the left, more sacrifice by everyone else and a continual assault on the rights of indivuals to free speech and to pursue their own lives while enjoying without interference, the rewards of their own hard work.
My personal belief is that the strongest society is one which has a complimentary balance of the right’s focus on the freedom and creativity of the individual and the left’s focus on our social responsibility to help those who are truly disadvantaged.
We are seriously out of balance these days. There is no question that there is a lot of extreme rhetoric and more than just a little greed on the right and after the Facebook IPO fiasco, it is fairly clear that Wall Street didn’t learn much in 2008. But the reality is that virtually the same can be said about progressives with the additional caveat that the left wants it both ways. They want social responsibility, they just want someone else to pay for it so that they can continue to receive the entitlements to which they feel……well….entitled.
The left no longer provide that social balance, they fight for entitlements.
Need proof? When was the last time you saw Occupy, a student group or any other progressive organization protest for children at risk or to end child poverty? Don’t strain yourself trying to remember, all the protests these days are over tuition, pensions and other benefits for various progressive special interest group.
Even teachers in Ontario can’t find the time to march for children at risk or to end child poverty but have more than ample to time to take to the streets to protest proposed salary freezes for themselves.
In fact, the left believes that even our children should be indoctrinated or as they prefer to call it ‘taught’ to think the correct way. Last week a teacher in Toronto took her grade 3 class out into the streets to protest the oils sands in Alberta. I wonder how the left would react to a conservative teacher dragging their class of 9-year olds down to the stock exchange for a day of learning the art of futures trading in hog bellies.
Ayn Rand was right. The left is undermining our society by dragging everything down to the lowest common denominator and no effective society was ever advanced on mediocrity, political correctness or a constant demand that those who can achieve should pay for those who can’t be bothered trying.
St. Paul was even more correct. There is a time in our lives for thinking foolishly like children but when we grow up, we are meant to put away childish, self-centred notions and take responsibility for our own lives. The left no longer seems to understood that. Instead, they have cloaked themselves in a failed ideology of entitlement, mediocrity and blame that they label progressive.
There are many things that the left could be called but progressive isn’t one of them.