The last few posts have been dedicated to exploring different kinds of leftists and this last one, truly in the spirit of saving the best for last, lays out the attributes of a ‘good’ liberal. The purpose of this series is twofold. First, I am unhappy with the traditional ‘left’/’right’ paradigm for accounting for one’s political persuasions and in order to offer something better–even if used only by me, I need to draw some distinctions. Similarly, in all the talk about a coming ‘civil war,’ distinctions need to be made within the political persuasions that ‘left’ vs ‘right’ simply aren’t useful.
But I will cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, I will just use the lump term ‘leftist’, and its rough stand-in (according to modern usage) words, ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive.’ However, invoking the word ‘good’ creates its own semantic problems, which I will have to address before we get started.
For the purpose of this post, I am not using the word ‘good’ in its theological sense. In the theological sense, there is no such thing as a ‘good’ liberal; indeed, there is no such thing as a good anybody. I am not good, you are not good. We are bad, and there is nothing we can do about it. God alone is good, and God alone can make us good. For this post, when I talk about a ‘good’ person, it is in the ‘worldly’ sense of someone can be counted on to do the right things for the right reasons, as well as any of us theologically bad folks can be expected to do so.
I make a distinction between nice and good. A previous post treated the ‘nice’ leftist. I suppose you’ll need to read this post and compare it against that one to see how the two are different kinds of people. I’m not going to contrast them directly, here.
As I’ve been contemplating this post, I’ve spent some time considering what makes some of the ‘good’ liberals as good as they are. I started thinking about all of the people I knew to be liberals who I also took to be good people, and lost count. These people were really stand out folks who often put their necks on the line, sometimes for me, personally. The mental exercise was encouraging, as it reminded me that there more ‘good’ people on the left than perhaps I might be led to believe if I confined myself to what I see on and in the media vs what I experience in my own life–a point that I will return to in a later post.
On the other hand, cycling through some of those people in my mind reminded me of just how vehemently I reject ‘leftism.’ No one should think that because I regard them as ‘good’ that it follows I think their ideology is ‘good.’ In fact, one of the common characteristics is that they are better than their ideology would predict. In one of the craziest examples, one of these fellows appears to have gone full Marxist. I regard that as tragic and disappointing. While he was never a friend, he was more than an acquaintance, whose intentions, knowledge, and skills, I fully respected. Even now, he is one of the smartest persons I’ve ever met and someone I would, with very little hesitation, place the care and welfare of my family in his hands if something were to happen to me. Although, the more his Marxism grows, the more my hesitations grow.
So, there certainly are ‘good’ people that I disagree with emphatically. Indeed, I don’t even like some of the people I regard as ‘good’ people. By ‘good’ I don’t mean likable.
A ‘good’ liberal is not really that different than any other ‘good’ person. In describing a ‘good’ liberal, I’m really talking about ‘good’ people in general. ‘Goodness’ in the sense I’m using it is not a function of political ideology. Indeed, it is probably one of the reasons that someone is ‘good’ because he is NOT identifiable with his political ideology–whichever ideology it is.
In that spirit, many readers will find that my description of a ‘good’ liberal is just a description of a ‘good’ person in general. Right.
Finally, what follows are characteristics and attributes of a ‘good’ person. It does not follow that every person has every attribute or that you have to have all the attributes to qualify as a ‘good’ person. This is a blog post, not a scholarly treatise. And even in a scholarly treatise, generalizations have to happen.
Without further ado, here is what a ‘good’ person looks like:
1. A good person is generous with his own time, talents, and resources. If there is something needful, he doesn’t wait around for someone else to do it. He just does it himself. If it needs paying for, he pays for it out of his own pocket. What he doesn’t do is go over to his neighbor’s house and force his neighbor to pay for it, or to do it. A good person doesn’t stand by as something needful is taking place, and instead go to his local council, board, representative, etc, and insist that ‘someone do something.’
People like this don’t just whine about problems in society, they step out and try to address them directly. If a soup kitchen is needed, they will volunteer. If there is no soup kitchen, they will start one. They are not generous with other people’s time, talents, and resources. They will use their own in order to do the thing needful.
Obviously, someone on the ‘left’ side of the political spectrum is going to be inclined, nonetheless, to provoke the government to be more involved as a solution. If it were not so, they would not be on the ‘left’ side of the scale. Be that as it may, they aren’t waiting around for others to do good things–they are doing them themselves.
What tends to happen, especially on the left, is that people credit to themselves the good feelings for helping people, when they themselves didn’t lift a finger. If Liberal Larry votes to take money from (Presumably) Rich Rodney to give the money to Poor Paul, Liberal Larry thinks he is the cat’s meow. I mean, he voted, right? Look how much he cares! In the meantime, at the same moment Liberal Larry is patting himself on his back for his great compassion (remember, he voted!), he despises Rich Rodney–the one who was compelled by the threat of force to do the things that Liberal Larry thought were so important… so important for someone else to do, but not, as it happens, for Liberal Larry to do.
2. A good person does something because it is something that is good to do, not because doing the thing makes them feel good. Don’t get me wrong, helping people ‘feels good.’ On the other hand, helping people–I mean, truly helping people–often requires hard, tedious work. Its the kind of thing where one’s own warm and fuzzy feelings could never provide the necessary impetus for doing what is necessary. Unless someone is doing X for the sake of X, and not for the sake of stroking his own ego or emotional heartstrings, such work would not be done at all. When good people do good things, it is usually thankless work; which is fine with them, since they weren’t doing it for the ‘thanks.’ They weren’t doing it because it made them feel good. They did it because it was the right thing to do. Period.
3. And yet, all things in balance. There is a difference between stepping up and budging in. There is a difference between being a help rather than being a nanny. A good person has a life beyond intruding? in the lives of others. He does not draw his purpose solely and exclusively from what he does for others… see #2. In such cases, the person who draws his identity in this way is not probably doing it for others, but rather, for himself. Is he helping? Or is he meddling? A good person will know the difference–and care. And, if he decides that moving forward would be unwelcome or perhaps do more harm than good, since his own well being is not riding on moving forward, the good person will move on. Sadly, there are many people who intervene where they are not welcome and credit themselves as being great people for the intervention; meanwhile, the people being ‘helped’ can’t wait for those folks to leave, and leave quickly.
4. A good person tells the truth. Now, this one ought to be the kind of thing that applies to all ‘good’ people so that it goes without saying, like, for example, “keeps commitments.” Unfortunately, deliberate lies and deceptions has become a central part of modern leftism. I’ve traced the roots of this strand and it goes back quite a ways, but we might look to folks like Lippmann and Bernays as some of the earliest sign posts. They laid out important parts of the philosophy and rationale for utilizing propaganda to achieve their aims. Saul Alinsky, in the 1960s, took this philosophy and made it leftist policy.
I already made it clear that I believe there are good people who are also liberals, and I made it equally clear that I disagree with them on their liberalism. But–and this is the difference–they are honest about their liberalism, and they mean to perpetuate their politics honestly, as well.
Some examples might be useful. Take Mr. Jonathan Gruber as an example. He was caught on film admitting:
…if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in–you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money–it would not have passed. OK? Just as–lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass.
At the same time that advocates for Obamacare were LYING about it, conservatives were telling the truth about it, and liberals were berating the conservatives. But conservatives were right.
“How do you know a politician is lying?” … “His lips are moving.” That’s the old joke, but that’s not what this is. This is an entirely different class of deception. Another example. Obama said that ‘no one is after your guns.’ If you believed that, you must be one of the stupid American voters that Gruber was referring to. Videos have surfaced of certain Democrat senators and/or their staff acknowledging in private that what they really want to do is ban guns. For example, Claire McCaskill.
If you watch what people like this do, then you know they are lying, regardless of what they say. Unfortunately, there are so many dupes out there that they nonetheless get away with it more often than they get caught.
These are just two examples, but there are many, many, many, many more. As it stands right now, the next big doozy is likely to be the so-called Trump-Russian collusion thing. At least based on what we know right now, the whole thing is One Big Fat Lie. We already know that these people don’t care about collusion with Russia–the Clintons raked in tons of money colluding with Russia, and Obama was caught on tape telling the Russian president to tell Putin to be patient with him, pending the election. Judging by what they do, we can deduce they are lying. The whole thing will likely be revealed as pure political agenda, meant to throttle the effectiveness of the Trump presidency. We’ll see.
These and other examples might make for good politics, but it is not the kind of behavior that good people engage in.
You know all that talk about the coming civil war? It is just this kind of toxic behavior that is creating the conditions for it.
A good liberal, like any good person, is honest about their agenda and pursue it by honest means. If, by pursuing it by honest measures, they don’t get their way, they are willing to live with it. They don’t seek out to destroy those who did get their way by any means necessary.
We understand, of course, why there is such a great temptation to lie about the liberal agenda for America. If they were truly honest about it, the Democrats would probably cease to be a viable political party in short order. This puts the ‘good’ liberals in a bind, I think. The evidence for rank deception perpetrated by the left grows each day, and I don’t think the ‘good’ liberals are going to be able to endure it. I don’t know what they’re going to do, to be perfectly frank. However, if anyone is going to to bring integrity back to liberal politics, its going to have to be the ‘good’ liberals. It’s them, or no one. I wouldn’t count on them succeeding, but that’s another topic.
5. When I think about the good people I’ve encountered and try to discern their characteristics and attributes, one of the things that jumps out is that the things in their lives that jump out (ie, are clearly the most important to them) have nothing to do with politics. I don’t think this is coincidental.
One of the enduring tendencies of progressivism (from the 1900s to present) is that everything is political. Everything. The whole mindset is geared towards ‘making society better — society, for the sake of society’ and in that quest, no stone will be left unturned. And how does one make society better? A progressive cannot conceive of any other way except to bring to bear the coercive powers of the government. If it is a liberal progressive (because there are other kinds), that means that every aspect of human existence, no matter how minute, is properly subject to the application of ‘democratic principles.’ Ie, if you think everyone should wear two left shoes, and you can get 51% of the population to make it a law that everyone wears two left shoes, then the enforcement of that law is entirely moral. And if you do this on the understanding that all the right shoes will be sent to the third world “for the poor”, the progressive has the duty to go for the 51%. Do you disagree? Then you are a heartless reactionary bastard.
Obviously, someone with this mindset is going to default into being an activist, almost 100% of the time.
And someone who does not have anything else of importance going on in their lives is going to have a lot more time to be an activist.
For the ‘good’ liberal, the fact that they highly value things other than politics–family, friends, careers, or even hobbies–tends to pull them back from the brink of perpetual activism. In the first place, they don’t even share the same basic assumption that the entire human experience should be orientated towards perfecting ‘society’ and in the second place, by having interests and passions besides activism, the time they have left for activism is greatly diminished.
Since they are liberals, they are still prone to meddling in everyone else’s business–they wouldn’t be liberals if they didn’t have that tendency. But, the fact that they only have a couple of hours a week to meddle means they have less time to do damage.
It can’t be a coincidence that most of the ‘good liberals’ I’ve encountered highly value their families. They are married, they have kids. They have jobs… to provide for their families. Their daily schedule is filled with trips to the doctor, sporting events, shopping for groceries. All very boring stuff. But they do it, for the same reason why everyone else does it: the gratification that comes with family life far exceeds everything else. It even rises above ‘society for the sake of society.’
In short, they are normal people.
It is interesting how liberals and conservatives and everyone in between all manage to get along just fine when its a community orientated around God, family, and country. The priorities are different and the places where time is invested logically flows from that fact. With the remaining time to be an ‘activist,’ a liberal is just as likely to want to spend that time the same way everyone else does–watching a bit of TV, playing cards, some whiskey perhaps, and so on.
It can’t be a coincidence that the madness that has infected modern day American liberalism is occurring at the same time when that particular demographic has largely eschewed ‘marriage,’ thinks having more than one child is a sin, has a degree in basket-weaving, and thus can get no job besides flipping burgers (and thus, could not support a family, anyway, even if they wanted to have a family), and happily lives in his or her parents’ basement until they are 30 years old.
Now, I have no problem with kids living in the basement of their parents. I’ve had to do that several times. But one of the main goals of that time was to get OUT of the basement as FAST AS WE COULD. The difference, I think, is that your 30 year-old basement dweller, otherwise having all of his needs fulfilled, can actually get by on $10 an hour. After all, if all you need is some extra cash to get a new tattoo now and again, why would one go out and work? Yuck.
All this free time, combined with zero ambition and no other competitors for “the most important things” than ‘society,’ breeds people who have a mindset of a full time activist. It is the SJW in all of his glory. Such as it is.
The fact that he has all the time in the world to scratch his progressive itch and has no other itches to speak of means that he is free to intervene constantly and continually in the lives of everyone else. For the ‘greater good,’ of course. In the meantime, the rest of us have jobs. We have obligations. We have responsibilities. We are not indifferent to the problems of the world, mind you, but we also know intimately some of the joys of the world, too: time with family and friends, etc.
‘Good’ people cannot really compete with the SJWs because they don’t have the time and energy to do so, and frankly, in the main prefer to be left alone and leave others alone, even when they do have time and energy.
And this is why, notwithstanding the fact that there are plenty of ‘good’ liberals out there, there is virtually no chance that the modern incarnation of ‘liberalism’ will not descend into totalitarian statism. How can it not? The people bringing it about literally have nothing better to do. The people best situated to stop them have lots of better things to do.
I’m sure that I could produce some other attributes and characteristics of a ‘good’ person, but this ought to give the reader plenty to chew on.
I should mention that the growing totalitarianism of the ‘left’ is heading inexorably towards a cliff, but, as I will explain in a future post, I do believe that they will be stopped. In America, at least. However, the ‘stopping’ itself won’t be pleasant, and if we could make it so we didn’t get that far, even, that would be the best for everyone. I have written this series of posts to provide explanatory background for future posts, in which I draw distinctions and try to flesh out a better paradigm for understanding the present situation. However, having come this far, perhaps the posts can also serve as a mirror by which the ‘good’ liberals come to grips with what is going on among them and in their name, and will take steps to get their ‘house’ in order. If, that is, such a thing is still possible.