Friday, October 26, 2007

Professor Kesler on Modern Liberalism and the Nature of Change

(Author's Note: While my fellow classmate and blogger Charles Johnson beat me to the punch on publishing a piece on this topic, I felt the need to add my own opinion. It's a typical blogger's trait.)

CMC government professor and senior fellow at the conservative Claremont Institute Charles Kesler makes the case against modern liberalism's misguided approach towards change in "Forcing the Spring," his Editor's Note of the Claremont Review of Books and featured at RealClearPolitics.

In the piece, Kesler argues that liberals are trying to "to hurry us into the future, so that we won't have time to think if the future on offer is actually possible or not, desirable or not." He adds that they, by definition, "are selling the future, a product that by definition is never in stock but soon to be shipped," and are therefore, unlike companies selling new products to fill contrived new needs and wants, not accountable to the "market" they serve -- namely, the American people. He illustrates this point by examining "HillaryCare" and the more recent healthcare proposals by the Democratic presidential candidates:

Take, for example, the Democratic proposals for what is euphemistically called health care reform. In fact, their proposals have very little to do with improving the quality of medical care actually delivered in America's hospitals and doctors' offices, and very much to do with changing the control over medical spending and regulatory authority. The point is not to heal the halt and the lame but to tax those who already have health insurance to pay for those who don't. The point is not to make the blind see but to blind everyone to the increase in governmental power that will result from these prescriptions. This was clearer back in 1993, when the bulbs were sprouting early and Hillary Clinton was in charge of her husband's health care reform task force. As czarina of all health care, she planned in detail how the federal government would solve the "crisis." But the plan--and the crisis--fizzled when the details proved too much even for a Democratic Congress to swallow. She learned from her mistakes. Instead of using the plan to show the nature of the change needed, Hillary now trusts change to show the nature of the plan needed. The details will come later, after the country has agreed on the need for change.
Kesler makes an excellent point here that any reasonably-minded person can agree with: change is not inherently good -- it should be desired by a consensus of some sort before it is acted upon. While I would not characterize the tendency to back change without proper forethought as a solely liberal affliction, it is indeed a criticism that should be raised. Particularly in the current atmosphere of polarization and divisiveness, the last thing that is needed is further aggravation of this status quo through lack of proper consideration on important policy choices. Change is good, but just make sure you ask the salesman what you're getting for your money.

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