Did you ever stop to think about the idealized “final goals” of the various political leaders (including the current presidential candidates)? What stars are they shooting for? What is their ideal, unattainable but nevertheless dreamed-of, final outcome? In the case of Ron Paul, it’s clear. He’s said it numerous times: To achieve a society where every individual is free and prosperous, where the market is free and fair, where everybody is happy, where there are no wars, where everyone is accountable for his or her actions, where the society naturally and spontaneously comes together to support all its causes voluntarily — because perfect happiness and freedom will naturally support that. Or something very much along those lines.
Since I had the idea for this article a week ago, I’ve spent quite some time scouring the Web for any “visionary” statements from any of the other GOP candidates. Romney? Nah. Gingrich? Yea right. Santorum? Now you’re having a laugh.
So when I failed to find anything even approaching “I have a dream” from these guys, I started looking for something Obama might have said. But also here, apart from “Yes We Can” and a few short-term or vague hopes or wishes (voter bait) – nothing! Wow. I actually didn’t realize that! I somehow misremembered Obama’s 2008 campaign as being a lot more visionary. But it wasn’t. Now that I’ve re-watched many of those clips, it turns out it was really quite vague and boiled down to “yes we can bring about change” without being too specific about what that “change” was. Funny how the passage of time changes one’s memory.
So perhaps it’s not a bad idea for us to try to figure out what all the others’ end-game dreams might be? Taken to the farthest logical extreme, what does Romney or Gingrich – or Obama – see in the future for us all? Are they substantively different? I can’t see that. The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats only exists in the name these days. They’re all collectivists now.
The differences that actually do exist are so insignificant that it’s almost laughable to try to enumerate them. So, for the purpose of simplicity, I’ll lump them all together. Basically, they’re all authoritarians. They clearly believe in more socialistic than Democratic or Republican values. They believe that the individual may (indeed “must”) be sacrificed for the good of all — as determined by them. They believe that the people must be lead by noble leaders and markets must be guided and controlled by noble bankers. And I also think that they probably mean that sincerely. The lower ranks do anyway.
Is there any other way to boil their unstated “ultimate vision” down? Let me try. Each of these gentlemen wishes to see an ideal world where everybody finds happiness in doing as they’re told. Everybody follows all the laws (which includes each one of the twenty new ones passed every day). Everybody has enough digital credits to live in relative comfort (as defined by them) and nobody is jealous of the few who have more than everyone else combined. Everything is nationalized and private property doesn’t matter because all citizens are sufficiently enlightened not to care about such things, thereby finally moving beyond the petty limits of the human species’ lowly instincts. And only “just” and “preventive” wars are ever going to be fought.
But that’s really it. Isn’t it? That’s their end-goal!
I’m not really surprised they don’t talk about it all that much. This is NOT progressivism. It is NOT conservatism either. Sounds an awful lot like communism to me!
Okay. You think I grossly exaggerated here. So, let’s try a more social-democratic, erm… progressive version then, shall we? Here goes: a world where everybody finds happiness in agreeing on what is best for the good of all (with enlightened, democratically-elected leaders deciding that point of course). Everybody follows the same laws (only one new law per day, max), and everybody’s in a global database, so money is unnecessary. Criminality is eliminated because in this idealized world, people stopped being human and are now superhuman! And only preventive wars are ever going to be fought. I tried! However you slice this, the Republicrat wants to have the happy masses of humanity firmly ruled by an enlightened elite. Happy to die for its country — for the good of all, towing the line. Happy to agree to ban not just smoking and drugs, but also sugar, raw milk, excessive breathing, the Internet, impure thoughts and dodgy haircuts.
And what do most people believe?
There are probably as many individual “end-goal visions” as there are folks out there, but if we were to group them all together along their very broadest common denominators, we’d see one group which yearns for a world where freedom and prosperity reigns. Their motto is “live and let live.” And the other group, which equally sincerely yearns for that same peace and prosperity, but not through individual freedoms, which they perceive as anarchic, but rather through obedience of the law which puts the collective above the individual, their motto is: “there should be a law against that.”
If you’re in that second group, you will vehemently disagree with my characterization, I know that. But would you at least agree that this is the logical final outcome of the policies and collectivist political philosophies virtually all “Western” countries of the world today follow?
Yes, I know I’m grossly oversimplifying, but it really does come down to these two extreme positions. A socialist wishes to see an egalitarian society where everyone has as much as the next guy and each individual should be sacrificed for the good of all. A world where there are no dishonest politicians and thus the “will of the people” is the rule of the land. A world which is regulated down to your shoelaces (whose length and thickness shall be determined by the Shoelace Czar). This person, in effect, yearns for Utopian communism.
Meanwhile, a libertarian, an individualist, ultimately wants freedom for himself and for everyone else, knowing that there is no such thing as a healthy forest without each and every tree being taken care of individually. So the libertarian wants a society where the “free market” rules, because he/she understands that “free market” really means “the will of the people.” Which also happens to be true. And he/she knows that if that’s achieved, then prosperity and happiness will follow and politicians whose only job will be to protect those freedoms can be more easily counted on to remain honest.
In its logical conclusion, the libertarian wants peace and no wars — which he/she knows will be achieved through the natural fairness of “the market” (i.e. “the un-coerced will of the people”), while the socialist believes that people can be taught (i.e. coerced) to obey arbitrary laws issued for their own good. And wars, while an awful thing, are inevitable as long as non-socialists (or anti-social elements) cohabit the Earth.
I know some of you will disagree with my slightly facetious characterization of the highest socialist values. But go ahead and come up with your own utopian vision and compare it to the simple libertarian one: “freedom for all, and allow the will of the people (expressed as the free market) to be done.” Is your vision better? Remember, we’re talking about the “ultimate goal,” or at least, the ultimate logical consequence of the current course…! It is this vision which makes Ron Paul the only hero left standing. He stands for something worth fighting for. His message is simple and profound and backed by an unimpeachable character. He bridges the gap between the false dichotomy of “left versus right” and introduces the real polar opposites: “tyranny versus liberty.”
People used to thinking along the left-right axis have a hard time understanding that the position he represents works for both sides! But it may be worth remembering that in his world, they’ll be free to disagree!
Sadly, while most people on both sides of the left-right micro-divide can’t fail but be slightly impressed, they still won’t give him their vote because they worry that freedom is incompatible with their left-right ideals. So, they’ll call him a kook or a dreamer, because they feel it makes them sound more serious and loyal to their party. Additionally, they’re afraid that if he somehow delivers on his promises, the world will fall into anarchy. They’re worried that embracing freedom means abandoning regulation and forgetting that freedom is also freedom to regulate according to the wishes of the market, the will of the people! They’re also assuming that Ron Paul would be the first politician in history who would fully deliver on his “ideal dream”! But no one here can name one – just one – political leader in all of history who’s ever been able to do that. So, this means that choosing the next president is more of an endorsement of the direction we want to go rather than any specific changes. Those would be nice for sure, but it’s the BIG IDEA that counts.
Those same people now say that Obama would have delivered on all his promises were it not for the powerful opposition from the Neocons who “made him” do a 180. And yet those same people believe that Ron Paul would ruthlessly and immediately cut all their benefits and have them fend for themselves and let the unscrupulous capitalists carry the day (irrespective of the fact that he never said any of that, and indeed said quite the opposite).
I didn’t get Ron Paul at first, just like, presumably, most of you. I liked him immediately, but equally immediately dismissed him as a straight-talking-but-pretty-crazy and far-out guy. But then I looked closer. And the closer I looked, the more I liked what I saw and heard. Finally, I came to the inevitable conclusion: he’s the only choice worth making. He helped me understand deeper political and moral issues. Sure, I don’t agree with everything he says. But that’s in purely practical terms. Sure, you MUST have regulation (and he knows it too), but the BIG IDEA sounds terrific. I’d rather be on the path to that than on the path to totalitarianism. No question about it whatsoever.
Think of it like this. At the end of your life, you can either say to your grand-children, “I stood for freedom to give you a better future, Johnny” – or – you’ll be saying “I supported the status quo, to preserve my hide, #439824428312.”
(originally posted here: What is Your Favorite Candidate’s Political Vision?)