Progressivism Confronts Human Nature
On Wednesday morning, November 29, 2017 NBC News announced the immediate termination of long-time Today host Matt Lauer for “inappropriate sexual behavior”. What type of inappropriate sexual behavior Lauer committed in not yet known but I would not be surprised to learn that a book deal was in the works.
When right wing icons such as Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes are branded as sexual predators the left-wing press (also known as the Mainstream Media) are quick to condemn them with little or no proof. Progressives were aghast when Judge Roy Moore won the Republican primary to replace Jeff Sessions in the Senate but were tickled pink (their favorite color) when they learned of his alleged penchant for young girls (even though a recent visit with relations in the South revealed that a certain person’s grandmother got married at the age of 13).
But when the sexual predators turn out to be progressive icons like Harvey Weinstein or a card-carrying member of the media elite like Lauer progressives are confused and distraught. In their simplified world they are the good guys. But good guys are as human as anybody else. I mean OMG. As I write this piece, the World Wide Web newsfeed is telling me that Minnesota Public Radio has fired Garrison Keillor over “allegations of inappropriate behavior” (again undefined).
I mean you can’t get much more nice guy than Garrison Keillor (a life-long Democrat and Hillary supporter).
The Founding Fathers understood the nature of man and realized that the Hobbesian all-powerful monarch personified by George III can do much evil when seduced by virtually unlimited power. They further realized that the new democratic nation they were creating would give certain men great power and that this power could be easily abused. So they drafted a constitution that included checks and balances against the accumulation of power by a single person or small group of people. These checks and balances make democracy a very messy business. Power is diffuse and even holding both houses of Congress and the Presidency can’t guarantee success.
Progressives chafe at this limitation of the power of the state. President Obama used the power of his pen to circumvent the checks and balances created by the Founders. Millennials wanted to elect Bernie Sanders so that he could concentrate even more power in the hands of the state. What can go wrong? Bernie’s a nice guy. But what happens when Bernie passes the socialist baton to a successor who is more akin to Stalin or Mao than Mr. Rogers. Millions were sacrificed to their communist concept of how to construct a better world.
The weakness of the progressive agenda is that its implementation is dependent on good intentions. And many people have good intentions – most of the time (despite the fact that some of these well intentioned people are conservative Christians). But even in a socialist paradise there exist people driven by greed and a lust for power. Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein were able to prey on women for decades because of the perceived power of their positions. Because all of this sexual harassment and abuse is about power. Power provides immunity. People use harassment and intimidation to enhance and extend their power. It isn’t limited to sexual harassment of women although sexual predation is especially effective on women and gives men an additional ego boost. But abuse of power is endemic in all sorts of companies, institutions, organizations and, yes, government. The reason that so many women are coming forth and outing their abusers is not because there is more abuse but there has been a change in the power relationships. Women have discovered that they can fight and defeat their abusers and that’s a good thing.
Maybe these recent tawdry affairs will teach our progressive friends some humility. We humans are chained to our human condition, which means that we don’t always act reasonably. Sociologists and behavioral economists have shown that there is a strong instinctual element to our human nature that can override our frontal lobes and our best intentions. Giving more power to government will draw abusers and harassers to its flame. Making people dependent on government is only another form of abuse. It is the checks and balances incorporated into our Constitution that have allowed our republic to flourish for two hundred years. They keep the abusers at bay and provide a pathway to reform and renewal.
Many people are worried about our republic because despite our checks and balances the abusers have found cracks in our protections to worm their way into the very fabric of our country. We are in desperate need of reform and renewal. But the answer does not lie in concentrating more power in the hands of the state.