As President Obama and Congressional Democrats attempt to straddle election-year fences in the wake of massive "tea party" rebellion against the health-care takeover and numerous other liberal assaults on individual rights, they are finding themselves targeted by protestors from an unusual quarter: their own left-wing base.
At the America's Future Now conference being held in Washington, D.C., for instance, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), found herself on the receiving end of calls for "change."
"Crowds repeatedly interrupted and heckled House Speaker Pelosi on Tuesday in what was the latest and most dramatic evidence of simmering, left-wing anger among those attending the three-day liberal gathering." ("Left flaps its wing at Pelosi, Obama," Washington Times, June 8th.)
While conservatives are chewing up Democrats for their gargantuan socialization of the health-care industry and being soft on terrorism, the left-wing activist groups ADAPT and Code Pink (the protestors at the event) are angry because that collectivization and appeasement hasn't gone far enough. What level of slavery and capitulation would these organizations regard as proper? The article gave no answer.
Nor was liberal discontent limited to health-care "reform" or resistance to Islamic jihad: "The Obama administration," the article continues, "also came under fire from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who joined conference organizers and the National Organization for Women in a midday press conference to chastise the president and Democrats on Capitol Hill for putting concerns about deficit spending above jobs programs."
While the "tea party" movement is making hay out of Democrats for their trillion-dollar deficits, the president of one of the country's largest labor unions is busily asserting that more deficits are the answer.
What level of deficit spending would Trumka consider as qualifying for crisis proportions? Two trillion yearly? Three trillion? Four or five? The article gave no answer.
As proof that compromise pleases nobody but dissatisfies everybody, and as proof of what happens when "practical" politicians seek to abandon fundamental principles, the Left's chickens have now come home to roost. While the looters and moochers are loudly and openly demanding their "right" to an ever-increasing level of the spoils being confiscated from the producers — while they agitate for the complete abolition of private property and not just its half-measured corruption — establishment leftists are finding themselves intellectually powerless to resist. For, when "need" trumps individual rights, what would be the basis for their resistance?
And, as an additional lesson to those who believe that "pragmatic" politics can ever supersede philosophy, observe the beginning of that corrosive process: With the first declaration, by liberals and conservatives alike, that anybody has the "right" to a single minute or a single dollar of the time and money of another human being.
Conservatives busy cackling over the Left's quandary from its own "fringe" elements, therefore, should beware: for the extent to which conservatives support the same altruist-collectivist motives as the liberals, but in a more diluted form, is the extent to which they destroy their own moral base. When it comes to the idea that some people are entitled "by right" to the product of the efforts of others, it isn't the level of implementation that is the problem; it is the idea itself.
Indeed, it is that very failure of the conservatives to reject the premises underlying the "welfare" state that cost them their political power to begin with; and it is only by standing up for individual rights that they have any hope of regaining power in the future.
Obama's presidency and the Democrat-controlled Congress have served to crystallize, to make clearly visible, the battle lines that have been waged in this country since its inception: the individual versus the collective. Do the conservatives and the "tea party" types have what it takes to fight for the proper side?
Bradley Harrington is a former United States Marine and a free-lance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wy.