Howard Dean on the Progressive creed

R. S. McCain copies an email from Howard Dean to the Democracy for America mailing list.  As McCain notes, the much-vaunted civility of the Left isn’t much in display.  Here’s what jumped out at me, though:

We know what we believe.  We believe in community. We care about our neighbors and we help each other. We can provide a bright future to our children with a quality education and we can provide a secure retirement free from poverty and dependence for our grandparents….We believe in liberty. We respect every American’s right to practice their own religion and to live a life free from bigotry, abuse, and harassment. We will fight discrimination and deliver on the promise of equality for all Americans.

So, we believe in “community”, but this community can’t have any moral or spiritual consensus, or it can only have one so vacuous that it doesn’t interfere with anyone’s “liberty”.  The community’s sense of identity must be so weak that no preference is given to its members; that would be “discrimination” and would violate the “promise of equality”.  “Community” can have neither its horizontal nor its vertical completion.  I must say that I have no idea what Mr. Dean means by “community”, and I wonder if he knows.  Does he mean local communities, or some abstract national community?  it must be the second, because his program seems quite incompatible with decentralization.  Nor do I know what he could mean by “dependency”, since the dependence of the elderly on the young is surely a fixed part of the human condition.  I’m sure he has know plan to eliminate it.  What I think he means is that the elderly should be dependent on the government and the market rather than on their children–impersonal rather than personal dependency.

The really baffling thing here is that Dean and his readers should be so confident in their contradictory passions.  Its as if it never occured to them that there might be a conflict between community and individualism or between freedom and equality.  Hence, they can’t realize that the Republicans are just as liberal as they are; it’s just that they weight liberalism’s incompatible goods differently.  What a strange mental world they live in.

One Response

  1. A remarkable quotation, especially for beginning with “We know what we believe.” None are so blind as think they see; unless, of course, he realizes that he is saying nonsense and is trying to deceive people. This is probably not the case.

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