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Can the Right Walk the Talk?

This week I listened to a great interview of U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. The latter, a Canadian clinical psychologist turned world-famous author and lecturer, chose Lee because he was ranked as the most conservative member of the Senate, based on voting record, and asked him to explain his political views. Lee did a great job.

Citizens on both the right and left of the political spectrum want to solve society's problems.

Those on the right observe history's telling of the almost universal abuse of power by rulers so they advocate for the Founders' view of limited government and the horizontal and vertical separation of powers - seeking a government that keeps the peace and a society that solves all other problems through consensual and cooperative means.

Those on the left see the potential good that might be done by harnessing the coercive power of the state and seek to expand and concentrate that power with the intent of feeding the hungry, healing the sick, clothing the naked, and freeing the oppressed.

The left has been winning this debate during the past century or so. Powers once separated vertically (held by states, counties, and so on) have shifted upwards to the federal level. Legislative powers once safeguarded by Congress have shifted horizontally to the Executive where laws are written, enforced, and often adjudicated by unelected (unaccountable) careerists.

As French jurist Frederic Bastiat famously wrote, there is "that which is seen, and that which is not seen." I fear my friends on the left fail to hear the warning bells of the latter because they are so captivated by the former. So alluring is alleviating society's tragedies that we don't recognize that it's possible to do right things in the wrong way and bring about great harm.

Similarly, we on the right must ask ourselves if we are really willing to tackle society's serious ills at the personal and local level - actually giving of our time and resources voluntarily and regularly.

Delegating society's problems to the government allows us to feel like we are part of the solution without doing anything ourselves, other than paying the necessary taxes and posting the occasional virtue-signaling meme. Taking that role back for ourselves requires coming face to face with the hungry, the poor, the sick, the ignorant, the naked, and the oppressed, and organizing ourselves to care for them.

Are we up to the challenge? If not, we don't need to wait for the government to stop. And if we don't aggressively pursue these ends outside of government, we can hardly decry the left's efforts to move forward within.

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