In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow explains to a young Mr. Will Turner, as the latter dangles precariously over the water astride the mainsail beam, in life there are only two things to consider. Those are, simply, what a man can do and what a man can’t do. In the movie scene, Will must decide if he can square with the idea his father was a good man and a pirate or he cannot. Each subsequent decision related to the matter would stem from his decision.
In an exceptional discussion of the political ideology of today’s Progressives versus the Liberal ideology of Democrats even one president past, Greg Weiner in Infinite Ideology points out the basic premise upon which each operated and now find themselves within a self-consuming paradigm of political thought. Weiner writes, “Liberals believe in the capacity of government to do good. Progressives believe that governmment’s job is to push society forward toward ever sunnier uplands.” (Weiner, 2019)
Such an ideology negates the accomplishments of the past Liberal administrations’ accomplishments for they will always be too small an attempt at what could be. It also consumes any current actions of the Progressives. Whatever a Progressive attempts today will be krill for consumption of the humpback whale of Progressive government tomorrow.
Weiner continues, “…the internal logic of progress reject limits, when progress is employed as a system of political thought or a principle of political action. It cannot respect dissent because progress is an inherent good, not a matter of dispute.” What a man can do and what a man can’t do implies limitations on what can be done and such cannot be visualized in the Progressive mindset. Where Conservatism, according to Weiner, “embodies a natural principle of limitation for one must ask what and how much to conserve.” (Weiner, 2019) He also alludes to Daniel Patrick Moynihan as a Liberal spokesman who understood limitation because one could ask how much can government do? Such a question is not posed in the Progressive handbook.
One Step Further
We have left Will Turner hanging on the mainsail long enough, let’s turn the ship’s wheel and bring him aboard. At this point in the movie, Captain Jack Sparrow asks young Turner, as he lays supine and breathless on the deck of the Dauntless, at the point of the Captain’s sword, Can you sail under the command of a pirate or can you not? For the Progressives, Liberals and Conservatives there must be another subset of questions. It goes one step further than what you can do and what you can’t do.
Politicians must learn to wrestle with these questions, more critical perhaps than the first set, for Americans, as a whole, feel the tension without ever hearing or seeing it recognized. These questions are gigantic elephants in a very small room; the room in which the roles of government and bureaucracies among a people are considered. It is not just what you can do and what you cannot do… the questions are: What you should do and what you should not do.
To admit these questions exists is antithetical to each ideology, whether Liberal, Progressive or Conservative when it comes to the professional politician or the life-long bereaucrat. It reeks of restriction and limitations upon those in government. Yet, the people understand there are things with which an individual American simply does not want the government interfering. No doubt, this is best understood by the Conservatives and most loudly voiced by the far-right of Conservatism. Perhaps because it is most clearly or vociferously advocated by the far-right, many mainstream Republicans shy away from such contentious debate. They ignore such provocations at their peril.
These Americans rally behind political organizations with varying central themes, whether it is the NRA or another strong body of voters. With wagons circled over particular issues, these constituents have declared: “Enough is enough!” They will stand their ground as the politicians and bueaucrats circle relentlessly seeking to gain more and more control over individual Americans and their lives. They have further decreed: “This is a space where government will not act in our supposed best interest!” Americans believe they do know better and they have the Constitution on their side to give them authority to call a halt.
No doubt, if members of the Liberal or Conservative schools would debate internally or among the schools of thought,there would be ample difference of opinion as to where the lines of what government should do and what it should not do would fall. However, the questions deserve to be asked. As Americans consider the dogma of the Progressives, who will not even allow such questions to be raised, American voters will turn enmasse away from the Progressive Kool-aid dispenser in haste.