This campaign ad for the Ontario Liberal Party has recently hit the airwaves, and in it the very first words that Kathleen Wynne utters perfectly encapsulate everything I despise about modern liberalism in general, and the Ontario Liberals in particular.
The line is "I believe that government should be a force for good in people's lives". It sounds innocuous - who could argue with good things for people? What's the matter with me - do I want government to make people miserable? Here are the key words that raise my hackles:
Liberals love government. They believe that government has a moral duty to centrally manage every aspect of society to smooth out the bumps in the road of life for all citizens. More government is always a good thing. Believing that government should maybe back off and let people make their own informed decisions about things like smoking tobacco, wearing bicycle helmets, buying beer in corner stores and saving for their own retirement just gives liberals the heebie jeebies. If it saves one life, it's worth it, isn't it?
There's an unsettling undertone of authoritarianism in the liberal world-view. People must be forced to do the right thing - not necessarily by armed police, but by vast bureaucracies and myriads of pettifogging regulations enforced by legions of inspectors and commissioners. People must be forced to support programs deemed to be for the good of society, not necessarily at the point of a gun but by confiscatory taxation that removes a citizen's discretion to spend money on things that he chooses for himself.
The heavy-handed influence of the state in people's lives is always justified, in the mind of a liberal, by the argument that it's for the common good. This pre-supposes that it is possible for a diverse population to agree on what constitutes the common good; the job of doing this is left ultimately to the government itself. The concept is also used to stifle dissent - people who disagree with the government's agenda for good are labelled racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or anti-environment. Whatever the government deems worthy of its warm embrace is then protected from criticism in the name of the common good. What kind of monster would argue against good things? "The issue is settled" - thus spake the Premier.
Here's the nub of the liberal ideology. We're not arguing about things like filling potholes, collecting garbage, building highways or defending the borders, all of which are legitimate roles for government. Liberals want to be intimately involved in people's lives. To a liberal, government has a duty to prevent people from making bad decisions and to force people to make good ones, and the government knows better than you do what is good for you. I bristle when I hear things like this from politicians. Society is made up of individuals making individual decisions, for good or ill, and they should be left alone to make those decisions and to enjoy their property except when another individual is at risk of harm as a result.
Kathleen Wynne is portraying herself as the kindly mother-figure who will lead us all to the sunny meadows of a prosperous Ontario where we all live forever in peace, harmony and equity. This of course must come with a massive intrusion of the state into the lives of individual citizens, and the past eight years of Dalton McGuinty preaching the same sermon has shown where this leads.