There are many ways to define what differentiates the left from the right. Some issues seem to go along party lines, but they don’t necessarily define us. While one key element is big government versus small, I believe there is another, less commonly noticed, but that often separates us—personal responsibility.
If one looks at many of the policies favored by the right, they generally have the air of personal responsibility behind them. We want people to work hard and achieve the American dream all on their own, without government holding them back or giving them an unfair advantage.
The left, on the other hand, tend to champion the idea that all who are unsuccessful are not in their situation due to their own faults, but instead because of greedy corporations and fat cats. It makes for great Hollywood drama, but it’s most definitely fiction.
While statistics have shown that conservatives, contrary to popular myth, are generally more charitable than their left-wing counterparts, the fact is, we generally give assistance to those who are truly incapable of helping themselves or those who are in their position for admirable reasons such as The Wounded Warrior Project, that helps wounded soldiers returning from battle.
We want to help people, but more importantly, we want to help people help themselves. Charities are great, but self-sustaining jobs are better. Socialists can give someone a fish if they want, we prefer to give them a fishing pole and kick them out of the nest.
By wanting to severely revamp and limit programs like welfare, unemployment, Social Security, and other entitlements, we are often deemed as heartless and cruel, but that is unfair and offensive. We want people to succeed; we just don’t feel we’re liable for their success or failure at the expense of ourselves and our loved ones.
Those programs are wrought with abuse. For instance, I know people who remained on unemployment until it ran out so they could find a preferred job when they could have easily found a lesser paying job to get off the government dime sooner. I also know people who are collecting disability assistance, but still able to play golf several times a month.
One can hardly blame them. It’s not illegal if they have the proper documentation from a doctor, and are indeed disabled in some small way. Most people simply aren’t going to turn down free money if they can get it. I dare say you’d be lying if you said you didn’t know someone like that.
One other personal responsibility issue is the Four Loko debate, and eventual ban. People have insisted it should be removed from shelves because young adults have overindulged and gotten injured due to the energy supplements keeping them from passing out when they get too drunk. Banning products because people are too ignorant to know when to say no is not the American way.
Americans have the right to be an idiot, put themselves in danger, and do themselves harm as they see fit. We largely reject nanny state policies, and rightfully so. People believe protection laws save lives, but the evidence often proves contrary. There is a little-known phenomenon called the Peltzman Effect that shows making things safer often leads to more dangerous behavior.
Here is a great article about the Peltzman Effect if you want to read more about it.
For instance, some local dangerous 4-way intersections were recently replaced with roundabouts. People here had never even seen a roundabout in person, and there were concerns the confusion would lead to more accidents. However, it had the opposite effect because people were now paying close attention to how they navigated through it instead of breezing through on mental cruise control.
Every time our government puts up a safety net, people engage in riskier behavior because of it. Would you be a better employee if you knew that there were no unemployment insurance to help if you if you lost that job? For many, it would change their behavior immensely.
The Four Loko incident is very similar. People refer to alcoholism as a disease, which infuriates me. It’s insulting to everyone who legitimately contracted a disease they had no control over, as opposed to doing it to themselves for a good time. Unless you are born unto someone who didn’t refrain from drinking while pregnant, alcoholism is a self-inflicted condition; not a disease in my opinion. And I will vehemently reject the American Medical Associations claim otherwise.
The reason this infuriates me is because by calling it a disease, people are attempting to absolve themselves of responsibility for it. Then when you get fired because you’re an uncontrollable drunk, the left want to pass legislation that says you should be sent to rehab, not fired, and your employer is a heartless bastard for sacking you. Think I’m joking? Think again.
I however believe the drunkard is a selfish jerk that puts themselves, their family, other motorists (if they are driving), and their employer at risk by putting their desire to have a good time above all else. They alone are to blame.
The Tea Party compared to the Occupy movement were great examples too. Tea Partiers feel compelled to leave the location in as good or better shape than they found it, Occupiers defecate in public and blame Wall Street for their apparent lack of ability to properly identify a toilet from a police car.
The concept of blaming others for your own shortcomings is an attractive one. How could YOU possibly be the cause for your own failures when you’re so awesome?! (In your own mind anyway)
The left can embrace that philosophy if they want. But while they’re whining, complaining, blaming, and finger pointing; we shut up, get to work, and get things done. We are proud to be the party of personal responsibility.