Liberals and lifeboat politics
A sinking ship, a dozen passengers in a crowded lifeboat, food and water for somewhere between one and eleven and a class of college sophomores. These elements may sound like an enticing Rod Serling prologue to an old Twilight Zone episode, but they actually form the components of a classic psychology experiment.
The scene of an under-provisioned lifeboat is not necessarily dire but definitely precarious. The sophomores are assigned the role of directors, allocating provisions as they see fit. The neophyte directors, overwhelmingly liberal in ideology, routinely allot provisions equally among all on board; life-preservers must be tossed to everyone. There are no survivors.
This experiment may have originated in academia, but it is acted out daily throughout liberal political policies. The fundamental principle is that everyone must be accommodated regardless of consequences to others, or even to themselves. We are painfully familiar with the broad consequences: rules of military engagement, police power, welfare, immigration, gender roles, health care, free speech, minimum wage, and just about anything else you can think of (Halloween costumes?) have all been contorted to squeeze through a liberal philosophical filter that sculpts a bizarre version of a tyranny of the minority.
A few examples: If so few as a handful of refugees seek to cross U.S. borders for asylum, the liberal reflex is to open our borders to virtually limitless thousands of claimants. Everyone must have sanctuary.
When a minority of citizens remained uncovered by health care insurance, either by exclusion or choice, Obamacare was devised and imposed upon all, whether desired or not. Everyone must have health insurance.
When students at any educational level complain of offended sensibilities, educational institutions react to forbid any form of personal expression that could be construed as negative by anyone, just in case any speech or action could be interpreted as critical or demeaning. Everyone must have psychological comfort.
Each of these examples employs a different mechanism to achieve a common goal. Immigration extends permission, health care exerts compulsion, and education enforces suppression, but each policy casts a wide net to ensure that no one's rights, real, perceived, or even contrived, can be infringed. The lifeboat has swelled in size to swamp the QEII.
Lifeboat politics is far more than a version of free-lunch liberalism. It throws more than money at its fabricated problems; it throws away rights and freedoms as well. Uncontrolled immigration dilutes protection for the common defense, Obamacare denies citizens' rights of choice, and educational fiats trample free speech. The intrusive range of lifeboat politics knows no bounds; it's pure political kudzu. Anything as sacred as sovereign borders or as trivial as Halloween costumes is fair game.
Lifeboat politics is pervasive and relentless. It always exaggerates benefits and ignores costs. The temptation to counter lifeboat politics by borrowing a phrase from Nancy Reagan to "just say no" is sorely tempting, but it risks ceding moral ground. Better to borrow from a twist of the tale of the pony, immortalized by Ronald Reagan, where an optimist always digs through a dung heap because "with all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere." Whenever liberals claim that any problem, be it immigration, health care, education, or whatever, is so pervasive that it amounts to a dung heap, they should be challenged. If they can dig out the pony in their dung heap, they can have it, but no reins, no bridles, no saddles, and definitely no unicorns – a one pony per customer limit.
The incessant barrage of lifeboat issues cannot be stemmed, but the onus of labor can be handed back to its liberal advocates. They may have finally found their shovel-ready projects.