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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Liberalism revealed

The central pillar of liberalism is a quest for equality in every form. This is its greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

At the root of the vast majority of liberal beliefs is an opposition to those with greater power. In nearly any political or societal situation, liberalism takes the side of the “oppressed,” the “dispossessed” or the “disenfranchised.”

In foreign policy, America is perceived as being more powerful than other nations, and thus we are assumed to be the bad guy or the aggressor. With the environment, mankind is seen as the destructive overlord of nature, needing to be reined in by regulation, limitation and education. In issues of race, class and gender, the side that is perceived to be weaker is invariably favored: Latinos and blacks, the poor and the downtrodden, women and those “undecided” as to their sex.

The stronger United States endures harsh criticism for its recent trend towards a secure southern border, while the weaker Mexico suffers hardly any consequence for far harsher laws regulating its own southern border. An enduring and dominant Jesus Christ being disrespected is free speech. Barely a whisper against the prophet of a largely third world religion, Muhammad, is “hate speech” and even against the law in parts of Europe.

The solutions of liberalism are nearly always to reduce the disparity of power. The United States must give in to the will of the United Nations. The rich must give in to income redistribution. Humans must slow or reverse population growth and use of resources. Whites must accept affirmative action, corporations must pay higher taxes and longstanding traditions must fall away.

On the surface, it is hard to oppose these measures. It seems that conservatism wants to defend “the elites,” as fellow columnist K.C. Cody so typically charged. In the clash between David and Goliath, James Bond and SPECTRE and UC Davis and Stanford, conservatives would actually support the villains, right?

No wonder conservatives look so bad to so many idealistic young people. No wonder we are so often demonized in the media, in colleges and among the more “refined” demographics of America.

I don’t dispute that the ideology of liberalism does mean well. Liberalism does seek to help those who seem to need it. This reality is why liberalism is so easily marketed,[omit jl] and so appealing to college students like us trying to make the world a better place.

The problem with the liberal mission to reduce inequality using government power is that it doesn’t really work. Taxing the rich at high levels takes money out of the economy and gives it to an inefficient and inaccurate government. Welfare and most other forms of government aid create dependency and perpetuate failure.

Affirmative action values people according to the color of their skin. Environmentalist regulations hurt the poor hardest, and the rich least. And a weak United States inspires Russia, China, Iran and others to challenge the international order, by force if need be. Equality of opportunity is a goal everyone can agree on, left and right. Equality of outcome is a dream only possible through the more severe strains of socialism, or communism.

When we decide to lift people up based on their perceived weaknesses, to which ones do we give priority? Even now the Democratic Party is in a heated debate over which attribute deserves more “help” – being a woman or being black. Do we protect the environment, or do we keep gas prices low for the sake of the poor? The answer depends on which liberal interest group is being interviewed.

Inequality and disparity are not desirable, nor should those who end up less successful be ignored or derided. But the alternatives of central planning, high taxes, vast bureaucracies, quotas, political correctness and books upon books of laws all make for a more homogeneous society, but not a better one.


ROB OLSON doesn’t like inequality in athletic competition and thinks those faster than him should be “regulated.” To be a heartless conservative and disagree, e-mail him at rwolson@ucdavis.edu.


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