A View From the Center
Moving to Washington has been a blessing and a curse. Before I came to Washington DC, I considered myself open-minded and progressive. Once upon a time, I thought of myself as a radical leftist. I raged against the system, I was a follower of Louis Farrakhan, my favorite book was and no one hated the white man more than I.
Today, I no longer feel that anger and contempt. The radicalism in me has passed, and today I call myself a liberal who’s been hit by reality. I realized my views are not in line with Barack Obama’s paternalistic vision that government needs to take care of you. I find myself agreeing more with black conservatives such as Dr. Ben Carson, Michael Steele and Senator Tim Scott.
My readings have changed also. I once had a collection of radical books. I used to read Jean Paul Sartre, Howard Zinn and Saul Alinsky, but today I read more centrist and neocon writers such as James Q Wilson, Irving Kristol and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former supporters of the welfare state who later denounced it. I also now read former leftists that became libertarian, such as Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell and Ayn Rand. Although I have moved toward the right on some issues, I don’t share their contempt for the federal bureaucracy of Washington. But like all former leftists that become neocons later in life, I identify with the frustration and anger toward the Beltway establishment that has become highly technocratic, paternalistic and out of touch.
Although liberalism has left me, my desire for helping others hasn’t. I don’t want to abolish or dismantle the welfare state — I prefer to see it become a workfare state. I am a strong advocate of equality of opportunity programs such as job training, public works and higher education, along with programs that strengthen families and marriage stability.
What I oppose are programs that redistribute wealth and determine outcomes. I oppose programs that promote diversity instead of merit and ability. I also am not a fan of policies that soak the rich and in effect impact small businesses, such as progressive taxation and raising the minimum wage.
I believe we should repeal minimum wage laws for historically disadvantaged groups such as minorities and teenagers. Instead of carrying banners for jobs and justice, the poor would be better served advocating for policies that allow the people in their community to control the economic activity of their community, that is policies that tap into the entrepreneurial spirit. A job is not going to get you out of poverty; only policies that allow people to create jobs that benefit the poor and disadvantaged will do that.
Although I support Democrats I only vote for centrist or fiscally conservative Democrats. I feel the party has steered too far left. I believe a new coalition of centrist Democrats needs to bring the party back to the middle or we are headed back to the seventies and eighties, when Democrats got their butts kicked in every election.
Centrists don’t like rocking the boat while many liberals want to capsize everything. Centrists are happy with half a loaf while a majority of liberals want the whole pie. If a person is happy working at McDonalds for $7.25 an hour, the liberal wants to make them angry, telling them they deserve $15 an hour so they can go on strike and lose their job. Many liberals believe everything is a right, such as the right to smoke pot, live in free housing, and receive welfare benefits while smoking pot instead of looking for work.
The premise of slight and injustice is what fuels liberalism. It’s the need to stir up old flesh wounds from the past such as slavery, discrimination and Jim Crow. The purpose of keeping these wounds fresh is to make one group feel guilty while those that languish at the bottom feel aggrieved.
That is why the left becomes frustrated with minorities and women that make it in society and break away from the Civil Rights mindset. Nothing infuriates the left more than a woman who becomes a soccer mom, who loves her husband and enjoys being a parent. It’s the same with minorities that would rather pursue profit than march and protest against the indignities of society. If you don’t stay on script the left will come after you.
The whole premise of left-wing ideologies, whether Progressivism, Socialism or Collectivism, is to limit and regulate those who aspire for more than an equal share. Shared equality is asking everyone to share in the burden of poverty as well as believing that you are not capable of making your own decisions.
However, what the majority of Americans want is the federal government to let people think for themselves, let them keep what they make and not tell them what to eat, smoke or how much to use.
Thomas Jefferson said it best, “The government is best when it governs least.”