Don't Worry. Mother will take care of you.
Like many Americans with nothing better to do last week, I watched the first Democratic presidential debates.
While political analysts and pundits have been hard at work examining and fact checking, no one is talking about the meta-narrative of both nights: the ideological foundation of every candidate’s points and policies.
With the exception of two individuals (Yang & Buttigieg), the candidates framed the United States of America as a dark hierarchy of tyrannical abuse, where the good and virtuous are strangled by the greedy and corrupt.
The Democratic candidates see the world in black & white, zero-sum terms. There are racists and anti-racists. There are Wall Street Americans and non-Wall Street Americans. There are pro-immigration advocates and xenophobes. There are gun control advocates and Americans that don’t care about gun violence. There are people that want everyone to have health insurance and there are people who wish to deprive vulnerable people of health insurance. Ultimately, there are good people and bad people, AND the good people are not prospering because they were wronged in some way by the bad people.
This is the resentment-fueled meta-narrative of the left and the evermore progressive Democratic party, and it shares philosophical DNA with the Russian Revolution, the Maoist Revolution, Nazi Germany, the Khmer Rouge and other tragic chapters of bloodshed in the story of mankind.
It must be nice to live in a binary world where nuance doesn’t exist, where certainty is everywhere and where nothing of consequence resides in murky shades of gray. The arrogance of certitude is one of the surest ways to precipitate a tragedy in any situation.
Nevertheless, the underlying ‘good vs. evil’ narrative is even more nefarious than the aversion to ambiguity. Some might correctly note that framing the world in “us vs. them” terms creates a hostile climate that increases the likelihood of violence & conflict and decreases the likelihood of collaboration & diplomacy.
While this is true, it’s only a superficial part of this meta-narrative’s horror. The real source of evil is the denial of peoples’ moral agency; the Democratic candidates are implicitly telling people that their choices don’t matter.
The crux of this meta-narrative lies in the alleged cause of the current predicament. The candidates make it clear that ‘good’ people in America have been taken advantage of by bad people; their plight is a consequence of the ‘bad’ peoples’ actions.
If Americans believe the Democratic candidates and view their plight solely as a consequence of ‘bad’ peoples’ actions instead of their own, then they’re never forced to examine how their actions might have led to their current predicament, or at least contributed to it. These American are being taught that they’ve been dealt a bad hand in life and, therefore, they need a benevolent third party (the state) to intervene and correct the imbalance of power.