“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” said presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, in a controversial Meet the Press interview last Sunday. “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”
He would go on to clarify these remarks in a Tuesday conference call with bloggers, saying that he isn’t really opposed to “radical” change as such. He wants to make sure the American people adopt it voluntarily, with their eyes wide open. To this end, he believes reformers should “seek an unusual level of authority from the people themselves.”
I’m deeply sympathetic to his point about the evils of force and imposition. I am fascinated by freedom, and look forward to spending the rest of my days exploring its every aspect. I think modern America is absolutely sick with compulsion.
Nevertheless, I have to make a confession. I am one of those right-wing social engineers Gingrich finds so undesirable.
We live among the ruins of nearly a century of left-wing social engineering. The final, agonizing days of the system it produced are playing out now. I don’t know how you can reverse that kind of system crash without some prodigious engineering skills. The rules of any conflict are set by the aggressor. Liberal aggression began long ago, and they have conquered much territory. Effective resistance will not be passive.
The kind of free and honest choice Gingrich describes sounds great in theory. It would be wonderful if Americans stood upon a vast roll of blank paper, sketching out a new future through our free and informed choices… but we’re not.
Much of the electorate has been shaped by long years of fraudulent education and biased media. They won’t understand the vast menu of options Gingrich would present them with, because they simply don’t speak the same language he does. They would retreat in confusion, their apprehension nursed to a fever pitch by the Left, and choose the sweet simplicity of a status quo headed for disaster. They are drawn in the wake of a socialist engine fueled by decades of dependency and trillions of dollars.
The human eye can make out six thousand stars in the night sky, viewed through the clear air of the most remote wilderness. The tax code has more pages than that. ObamaCare has more regulations than that. We cannot expect the public to vote so many individual elements of compulsion away, one rule and program at a time.
Gingrich challenges conservatives to defeat liberals in a “free market” competition of ideas. The choices liberals offer are false choices. In the case of Medicare, they will frame the debate as a choice between keeping the program as it is, or embracing the “radical” reforms of someone like Paul Ryan. That is a lie. The choice is between utter ruin and serious reform, but the media will never frame it that way. The public will believe it can choose between a comforting illusion of consistency, and the vast array of complex proposals Gingrich would lay before them. It is not “compulsion” to tear down those illusions, and foreclose the choice that doesn’t really exist.
The sad truth is that many in our society benefit greatly from the deployment of compulsive force against others. They won’t be eager to take the whips and chains away from the benevolent overlords of the State, who solicit them with the promise of delivering “entitlements,” funded by the confiscated wealth of hated class enemies.
How long would it take to drain the acid of envy from socialism’s batteries? How many decades would be required to carefully alter the landscape generations of liberals have created, without engaging in any sort of “right-wing social engineering” at all? I’m not convinced it could be done in a hundred years. We don’t have a hundred years. We don’t have twenty. I don’t really think we have ten.
Gingrich made a great point when he said of Medicare reform, “Seniors like to be told they have the right to choose, but they hate to be told they have to choose.” With all due respect to the seniors, you don’t get to make the choice that destroys the rest of us. We will not bankrupt ourselves sustaining a doomed system for you. You’re not “entitled” to seize our futures. Wealth transfers from the young to the old require so much compulsion that they’re torn right out of our damned paychecks, before we get to say a word against it.
I want to clear away the vast amounts of compulsion clogging our society. Freedom and prosperity are inextricably linked. History has never seen a wealthy serf, and they will not be invented by the Democrat Party in the next few years. Returning liberty to a people who have lost so much of it, at such a dizzying pace over the last few years, will be impossible unless we help them see what they have lost… and that will involve changing them.
I would change them with the truth, because they have been sculptured with more than enough lies. Some of that truth will not be easy to hear. It must be delivered with leadership and vision – one great and united vision, to pit against the very simple demands and promises of the socialist. Such vision can only come from someone that Newt Gingrich might describe as a “right-wing social engineer.” I must confess that I meet that description, too.