One of several campaign slogans the Hillary Clinton campaign had offered voters was love trumps hate. The obvious double entendre seems to have been intended to 1) propose that love is more powerful than hate, 2) postulate that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for love, 3) associate Donald Trump and his voters with hate, and 4) make clear that hate needs to be defeated. It’s clever and, as far as American political rhetoric goes, fair game.
While I don’t blame Clinton or her campaign for using this slogan in the presidential election, I think the crusade for love the political left believes it is waging needs to be called out and examined more closely. By doing so, I believe we will find that much of what the left stands for is hardly loving and that much of what the left labels as hate is misunderstood compassion and care.
I have already written about how certain aspects of the Conservative or right-wing platform are often misread. So you can check out my more specified analyses of the love behind the Conservative positions on poverty, women’s issues, and science in the corresponding hyperlinks. I promised a fourth post on education, but I never got around to it. Sorry.
I do not intend to turn the tables on Progressives and Liberals by saying they lack love or compassion for others. There is certainly a desire to help others that resonates throughout much of what they stand for. But their agenda is not objectively loving by any stretch of the imagination, and fear and hate exist within Progressivism just as much as they do within other political ideologies.
Calling those who have divergent opinions on, for instance, why certain groups of people perform differently than others racist and bigoted is not an expression of love. It is an expression of… bigotry. The definition of a bigot in the Progressive mind seems to be something along the lines of “one who does not agree with Progressive thought.” The actual definition of a bigot is “one who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.” This means that a Bernie Sanders supporter can be just as bigoted as a Donald Trump supporter. If someone on one side refuses to entertain the rationale of someone on the other side, that person is a bigot. If someone on one side assumes there are ulterior motives behind what someone on the other side proposes, that person is a bigot. Bigotry has no party affiliation.
More importantly, many policies Progressives support and associate with love are inconsiderate and hurtful to those they are not aimed at assisting. These policies are often a result of one of Progressivism’s most hallowed values: equality. While the Classically Liberal philosophy, which spawned civil rights, due process of law, and individual sovereignty, refers to equality in terms of Rights and Liberties, modern Progressivism generally adds equality in terms of outcome and representation while sometimes discounting certain Liberties. Several Progressive policies that illustrate this are mandating that police forces must be racially proportionate to the communities they patrol, regulating businesses to make sure they place women in executive positions, allowing women to serve in combat roles despite the military itself objecting to this change, governmental funding of organizations that provide abortions, and anything related to Affirmative Action. Aside from the hypocritical fact that the Progressive version of equality is never applied to certain male-dominated professions like sanitation work, construction, or plumbing, Progressives elect to disregard individual merit in favor of equality. The individual is the world’s smallest minority. And while seeking to make sure that women and racial minorities are given a better opportunity to succeed may very well be an expression of love, it is hurtful and disrespectful to those who get a raw deal because of these kinds of policies. Their goal is equality, not love.
Progressive economics are another area that love is claimed but not necessarily substantiated. Abiding by the principle of equality of outcome, Progressives call for redistribution of wealth, social programs forcibly funded by the wealthy, stringent minimum wage regulations, and high taxes in general. I do not deny that many Progressives simply believe that this sort of economic system is morally and effectively superior to a more free market approach. I disagree with them, but I respect their opinions and look forward to continuing to debate them in a mature and intellectually honest fashion. But there is no way I will allow them to say their ideas are more compassionate than Capitalism. What about the people who don’t want to participate in these initiatives? What about the people who think the effects of a Socialized economy will lead to poverty and a decline in character? My personal wish to see enhanced Capitalism is based in love of individual Rights and the Right to pursue happiness, and it is aided by my understanding that laissez-faire economics result in greater prosperity anyway. But that doesn’t mean I am willing to call my opponents hateful. We have different opinions, and we love (and hate) in different ways.
On the areas I most strongly disagree with Conservatives, most of which are social norms they are sometimes willing to give the state the right to enforce, I do not for a second believe that hate is what generally informs their views. Are there individuals who just support certain policies out of hate? Yes (on both sides). But let’s focus on the vast majority, not the powerless minority. On abortion, gay marriage, assisted suicide, drug prohibition, abstinence-only public education, and a few other issues, I am at odds with moderate and hardcore Social Conservatives. I am against prohibition of abortion, assisted suicide, and drugs, and I believe the government should have no involvement in marriage or education (but that gay marriage must be legal and that comprehensive sex education must be taught if these remain public works). I spoke out against these policies when I was a Liberal myself, and I continue to do so as a Libertarian. However, this is not because I am more loving than your average Social Conservative. I just have a different view.
It’s fair to generalize Social Conservatives as being religious or at least associated with those who are. And this means their mission in life is to do good in God’s eyes and to earn their passage into heaven. They must also protect their fellow man, especially their children and communities, from feeling the wrath of God or the creeping consequences of disobeying His commands if they can.
Since the Bible seems to indicate that waiting until marriage for sex, abstaining from homosexual behavior, treating one’s body like God’s temple, and preserving the sanctity of life are in line with God’s will, and since protecting mankind from breaking these laws is how we will all find ourselves in God’s kingdom, it is a dramatically incorrect statement to assert that Social Conservatives are preachers of hate for supporting the aforementioned polices.
Are they in Constitutional contempt of the law on these matters? Yes. Are they violating their anti-big-government/anti-social-engineering/pro-individualism/pro-Liberty principles? Totally. Are they wrong from a position of practicality or from actually keeping people from engaging in ill-advised behavior? I strongly believe so. But it’s not hate. And calling difference of opinion hate, while claiming that you are the gatekeeper of love, does nothing but manufacture hate and resentment towards you. Beyond that, what Social Conservatives are preaching is a way to punch a one-way ticket for access through the Pearly Gates! What could be a greater expression of love than demanding everyone get into heaven? Saying that what one deems love is hate only makes what you deem to be love manifest as hate in their eyes.
Here are several other Conservative positions (all of which I oppose) that Progressives generally call hateful despite their compassionate intentions:
- Profiling (seen as a way to keep people safe from criminals)
- Restrictive immigration (another way to keep people safe from perceived-to-be-dangerous peoples)
- Authorizing torture (same thing)
- Censoring explicit and suggestive language and images (protecting people from negative influences)
- Mandatory military service (making sure everyone does their part to defend the country)
Here are several positions Libertarians (including myself) and Conservatives agree upon that Progressives sometimes call hateful despite their compassionate intentions:
- Abolishing the welfare state (wealth redistribution violates private property rights, large social safety nets rob people of their ambition and potential, and the economic impacts of large government programs has a net negative effect on the nation)
- Preserving the Second Amendment (individuals must have the power to protect themselves, and society must have the power to repel a tyrannical government)
- Getting the government out of education and healthcare (government involvement leads to inefficient and expensive monopolization; the free market lowers costs and results in more choice and better quality)
No free person has to agree with a single one of these policies. And everyone has the right to explain their moral or practical opposition to them. We even have the right to protest them via boycotts, demonstrations, and civil disobedience. But when we dismiss those who disagree with us as hateful, we cause communication to malfunction and division to arise, not to mention the fact that we’re purporting lies.
The left does not own love. And the left is guilty of hate too. But that does not mean Progressives are decidedly evil or that Conservatives are purely good. It means that we are all human, that we are all imperfect, and that we don’t all see eye-to-eye regardless of love and hate.
And as long as we recognize this, we’re all going to be okay.