by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The election of Donald Trump could prompt people on the left end of the political spectrum to develop a healthy distrust of government power and to seek nongovernmental solutions to life’s problems. (One might say they might become more “clasically” liberal.) But those positive outcomes are unlikely, as Peter Burfeind argues in a Federalist column.
We all know this won’t happen. But it exposes what leftism is really about. It’s not about attaining a particular good, but about revolutionizing culture by government fiat. To be a leftist is to have the unwavering belief one can change society and even the constitution of the human soul through political means, hence their deification of government.
Now that they’re outside of government, they don’t know what to do. Rightists can weather political defeat better because they embrace institutions other than government as instruments of good. A Rightist has a more cynical appraisal of history and humanity, so (a) doesn’t set his expectations too high, and (b) works on the things he can manage in his self, family, church, business, or community.
Leftists have a far grander vision bordering on utopianism on what can happen when government is endowed with enough power. They put all their chips on the bet that humanity will awaken to their ideals and hand over its proprietorship to the State, while they judiciously manage the rest of society by their elite knowledge of policy. Again we have to invoke Aesop: Leftists believe a snake (history and humanity) will eventually behave according to their vision. It doesn’t, and now they’ve been bitten—again.
One could cynically conclude leftists are just about power and large government, else they’d do some reflection on how large government fails leftist goals time and time again. A charitable conclusion is they simply lack the maturity of imagination to fathom non-governmental solutions to problems, like someone whose mind hasn’t graduated that second-grade thinking which goes, “I want to be king so I can make a law that everyone has to be nice to one another!”
A more subtle and accurate conclusion is that Leftism has the characteristics of religious dogma, and so isn’t allowed by its first principles to fathom good other than through revolutionary, government action.