Posted by: Loran Blood | February 24, 2016

Progressive Paraphenalia

http://www.mormonpress.com/sabrina-clifford

Check your progressive privilege.

Imagine the response if any apologist of any note, especially a published NMI scholar of yesteryear, were to write an essay entitled “Why I’m a Mormon Republican.” Imagine the wailing. Hear the gnashing of teeth. But one of the Anointed can pen such an essay and expect the fawning accolades of those in the Mormon Big Tent. That tent doesn’t fit very well on the narrow way, and can’t be stuffed through the strait gate, but it has three rings and lots of bread.

I am a wife, a mother, an environmentalist, a vegetarian, and a Democrat. And I’m a Mormon.

I wasn’t always a Democrat by affiliation, but I think I’ve had Democrat leanings my whole life, just like I’ve had a testimony of the LDS Church my whole life. The only time I feel conflict between my political beliefs and my religious beliefs is when other people create the conflict. I’ve found that it’s a cultural thing, not a doctrinal thing.

If you’ve never heard a leftist bear their testimony, this may be perhaps the closest thing you may come to that in any foreseeable future. If you’re anticipating any coherent, logical argument here, however, I’m afraid you must come away disappointed.

Next, a logical, conceptual, philosophical, and historical gaff of elephantine proportions:

I am a Democrat because I believe in agency.

Sabrina is making it very difficult not to be facetious, but the temptation is not beyond that which I can bear…yet.

As a Mormon, I live the Word of Wisdom, but I don’t have the right to force my dietary restrictions on other people. I believe I would have a very hard time aborting a child even if it threatened my life, but I have no right to make that terrible decision for someone else. I have a testimony of The Family: A Proclamation, but I am happy for my gay friends when they are able to make decisions that make them happy. The prophets have a responsibility to warn society of negative consequences. I have the responsibility to be a good friend and neighbor, and the message of the Church is a gospel of love.

Now, to the bread and butter: This is nothing more than moral cowardice draped in the noble robes of a kind of disinterested, atomistic libertarian ethical moral neutrality, something long common both to the Left and the purist libertarian Right, and this kind of libertarianism – a close relative of leftist social theory and pop-libertineism but having its origins in a different view of the human condition – is also not compatible with the gospel in critical ways.

No one who understands the actual history, ideas, and prescribed policies of the historic Left, however, will be in any way fooled by this breezy paean to agency. The cultural and political Left is collectivist, authoritarian, and/or statist in all its manifestations, save in two traditional instances: the realm of human sexuality and of the use of consciousness-altering psychoactive substances. But even here, the reason for such concepts as “liberation” and “freedom” within the Left and its cornucopia of causes is to subvert and break down the primary buffering and mediating institutions interposing themselves between the individual and the state: the family and religion. With these institutions of civil society still in place and still exerting significant influence, the Left’s broader and deeper agendas cannot go forward.

As an example of such an agenda very carefully wedded to what is apparently a perfectly logical and mundane set of examples of personal responsibility and laws restricting certain behaviors that may impinge upon or circumscribe the unalienable rights or liberties of others, Sabrina tells us:

I am a Democrat because I believe in responsibility. While we all have our agency, there are consequences for our actions. I believe in restrictions that protect people from those consequences. We have laws and restrictions about driving to protect everyone involved. We should likewise have laws and restrictions on guns and gun sales to protect everyone involved. One aspect of responsibility that truly affects everyone is the way we treat our planet. This earth is a gift, and the Lord gave us stewardship over it. Proper stewardship requires that we protect the earth so that we can have healthy and happy lives. When factories belch so many particulates into the air that breathing is equivalent to smoking, my agency has been taken away from me; I have taken care of my lungs my whole life, and when the air is filthy, I am forced to breathe the polluted air or I will die.

As I say, the broader and deeper agenda. The atmosphere of earth is a befouled, toxic smog, so deadly that to breath is virtually to risk death. The difference between Sabrina’s example here, and restricting driving to a certain age and with certain caveats; restricting the sale of guns to certain citizens; drunk driving laws, yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater, etc., is that while these behaviors are all well known and, indeed, common forms of anti-social human behavior that infringe upon the liberties and rights of others, Sabrina’s claims about the horrors of belching factories are wholly fictive, as are the vast majority of causes and crisis favored by the environmental movement in its fundraising literature, its congressional testimony, its documentaries, PSAs, books, magazines, and political activism.

That two-year-olds should not drive is obvious. The claims of the traditional environmental movement, such as the rather obviously bizarre statement Sabrina makes here, does not, on the other hand, represent anything obvious or clearly evident but represents an ideological vision, and one notoriously and relentlessly short on empirical evidence.

Sabrina commits the fallacy of false analogy: there is not logical connection between common restrictions of certain behaviors (like driving while intoxicated) and claims about the nature of the ecosystems of earth grounded in a preexisting ideological template and lacking the facts or empirical evidence that would allow it to move from ideological truth claims to claims about actual states of affairs in the world.

I am a Democrat because I believe in compassion. Compassion for people fleeing their situation because they’ve run out of options. Compassion for people who are working but aren’t making enough money to live on. Compassion for people who are trying to make a better life for themselves but need a leg up in order to do it. In an ideal world, nonprofit organizations could help everyone in need. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough organizations to go around. In some cases, the government is in the best situation to help. Just because they don’t do it perfectly doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

Some truths can be hard.  This isn’t compassion – the collective, regimented and mandated compassion of the Left – but the fervent desire of the textbook iron-fisted nanny determined to meddle in the lives of anyone and everyone deemed hopeless, helpless, downtrodden, and oppressed, and to involve, through the coercive powers of the state (there goes the agency and personal responsibility) certain citizens or groups of citizens indirectly, through the forcible commandeering of their time, talents, labor, and wealth, in the life choices, circumstances, and decisions of others. This is “socialism” at its most essential and elemental.

All of these points are supported by the gospel.

In truth, none of them are supported by the gospel in particular, even though some of them could be supported by the gospel in very general senses. But nothing supported by the gospel in a broad-brush way gets a free pass to become a face in an ideological totem simply because a vague case can be made for a vague feeling such as “compassion.” We are also counseled by the Lord to do all we do, as King Mosiah tells us, “in wisdom and order,” and that God’s house is a house of order, and not a “house of confusion.” Nor, one should add, is it a house of envy, resentment, contention, grievance, the seeking of power, the buying of votes through the transfer of wealth to those holding them in pursuit of such power, or the turning of artificially created groups and identity-based collectives against each other as a means of forging and cementing alliances between the state and the groups with the loudest, shrillest voices and the most uniform voting behavior.

The Brethren have stated repeatedly that truth can be found in all major political parties. I don’t agree with every facet of of the Democratic platform, but I don’t know anyone who agrees with every facet of either party. Eight years ago, I took a good look at the values of both parties and found that the values of the Democratic Party most match mine. And while I don’t agree with everything our current president has done, I still believe that he was the best choice for our country both terms. I am proud to be an LDS Democrat.

What the Brethren have never stated, however, is that truth can be found in all or any particular political philosophy or ideology. Party politics only really matter in matters of first principles when a party becomes, as the present Democratic Party has become, wholly given over to the principles of a quasi-religious ideology and is therefor so uniform and undeviating in its beliefs and policy prescriptions that the particular candidates are almost irrelevant in an ideological sense. The Republican Party, on the other hand, has become almost wholly non-ideological and its candidates at all levels can vary from center-left statists, interventionists, and social liberals to movement conservatives (only twice in my lifetime, and likely never again).

What this is to say is that while the Republican Party is, itself, neither opposed to or supportive of the gospel or the Church, the same cannot be said of the contemporary Democratic Party, which is now a post-American, post-constitutional (and therefore, by definition, anti-gospel, as the Constitution is a divinely inspired legal and political document that, as a matter of its underlying assumptions, fuses the political and the religious at the level of the fundamental first principles of the nature of legitimate government and the relation of the individual to the state) anti-constitutional, anti-Judeo Christian, and thoroughly Fabianized authoritarian socialist party who’s core determination is to completely transform and reconstruct American society from a constitutional republic to a government-dominated nanny state – the “soft” totalitarian daycare center state, not of Joseph Stalin, but of Mustapha Mond.

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