- The Washington Times - Monday, February 22, 2010


One quickly realizes the major philosophical and principal divide between liberals and conservatives when analyzing their respective rhetoric.

Conservatives and liberals are worlds apart in their ideologies — conservatives cling to the power of equality of opportunity and unfettered freedom, while liberals are fearfully willing to sacrifice the hard-earned dollars of honest Americans for the freedom of equal outcomes.

To illustrate the point, let’s examine some of the more recent contentious political issues to better test and illuminate this hypothesis.

Health care: The left was willing to sacrifice the individual’s freedom to choose doctors, opting instead to impose a state-run monopoly on medical care at the expense of a market-driven health system. They unabashedly didn’t care that they were redistributing income from the more productive to the less productive; from the young to the old; from the healthy to the less healthy.

In contrast, conservatives looked toward market solutions to resolve many of the existing health care issues, ones that operate within a framework of the invisible hand of rational behaviors and the proper incentives. If cost is a factor in health care, as liberals would argue, then why not ensure the solution has a price-based fix?

Cap and trade: Under the Democratic plan, income derived from an emissions cap-and-trade scheme would be redistributed from productive carbon-producing enterprises to those enterprises that do not emit carbon, but may not produce as many jobs. The plan also would shift wealth from the U.S. to countries that do not have to comply with the treaty. And all over what — spotty, inconclusive scientific evidence that claims that reduced carbon emissions would prevent “global warming.”

Conservatives questioned that science, not because they were Neanderthals, but because of common sense. When you ask the average American, struggling to pay the mortgage or the rent, to fork over $5 for a gallon of gas to save an iceberg in a remote polar region, you better be darn sure of the consequences of global warming. Frankly, the left failed in that argument.

Union card check: Democrats were willing to sacrifice the sanctity of a secret ballot to ensure that unions could fleece more American workers. With union members (and clout) dissipating at record rates, it was easy to see this political exercise for what it was — a desperate bid to gain back lost power, even if it meant cooking the ballot box at union halls. Here again, conservatives stood on an obvious side — the one for more freedom and more individualism.

Campaign finance: Democrats howled when the Supreme Court recently overturned corporate prohibitions in the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law. Here again, they’re willing to sacrifice the constitutionally protected free speech of corporations and their shareholders. The beauty of our First Amendment is captured best in its simplicity — when you abridge someone’s right to speak out for causes he/she believes in, no amount of demagoguing will cover that injustice.

Those are polar descriptions of major issues, but in the real world, most Americans are neither completely liberal nor conservative in their overall views. And this is all for the better.

Views and opinions change, based on one’s own station in life. That’s why we have laws, based on fundamental principles of what’s just. Because if left to the devices and whims of populists, freedoms would suffer. That’s why conservatives look back to the Founders: They approached the building of this nation with the freshest of views; chief among them was the unfailing pursuit toward more, not less, freedom.

For the most part, Americans prefer their politicians this way as well. They would much rather have a president in the middle of the political spectrum, regardless of political affiliation, rather than have a polarizing dictator. In fact, when policy is proposed, whether it has the appearance of being liberal or conservative, the rigor of intense partisan debate will usually make it come out somewhere along the middle of the political divide.

Conservatives will never be able to cogently persuade a true liberal, who is more than willing to sacrifice his or her freedom and income (and yours) so that there is absolute perceived equality. Likewise, liberals will never persuade conservatives to sacrifice their individual freedom and hard-earned wealth to be redistributed by bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C.

For this reason alone, the left and right will never meet. It’s probably good that they don’t, for conflict is at the heart of democracy. I’m just glad that my conservative colleagues and I are on the side of liberty.

“The Armstrong Williams Show” is broadcast on XM Satellite’s Power 169 channel from 9 to 10 p.m. weeknights.

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