There is only one good thing about the Obama administration's attempts to nationalize most health care and to begin to control Americans' energy consumption through cap-and-trade: clarity about the left. These attempts are enabling more and more Americans to understand the thinking and therefore the danger of the left.
The left has its first president -- with the possible exception of Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- and for the first time controls the Democratic Party and both houses of Congress. In the name of compassion for the sick and the poor and in the name of preventing worldwide environmental catastrophe, it is attempting to remake America.
In so doing some principles of the left are becoming clearer to more Americans:
Principle One: The left, as distinct from traditional liberals, is not, and has never been, interested in creating wealth. The left is no more interested in creating wealth than Christians are in creating Muslims or Muslims in creating Christians. The left is interested in redistributing wealth, not creating it. The left spends the wealth that private enterprise and entrepreneurial risk-taking individuals create.
The left does not perceive that poverty is the human norm and therefore asks, "Why is there poverty?" instead of asking the economic question that matters: Why is there wealth? And the obvious result of the left's disinterest in why wealth is created is that the left does not know how to create it.
Principle Two: The reason the left asks why there is poverty instead of why there is wealth is that the left's preoccupying ideal is equality -- not economic growth. And those who are preoccupied with equality are more troubled by wealth than by poverty. Ask almost anyone on the left -- not a liberal, but a leftist like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- which society they consider more desirable, a society in which all its members were equally lower middle class or one in which some were poor, most were middle class, and some were rich (i.e., America today). And whatever they say, in their hearts, the further left they are the more they would prefer the egalitarian society.
Principle Three: The left everywhere seeks to make as big and powerful a state as possible. It does so because only the state can redistribute society's wealth. And because only a strong and powerful state can impose values on society. The idea of small government, the American ideal since its inception, is the antithesis of the left's ideal.
The cap-and-trade bill's control of American energy and the "ObamaCare" takeover of American health care will mean an unprecedented expansion of the state. Added to increased taxes and the individual becomes less and less significant as the state looms ever larger. Americans will be left to decide little more than what they do with vacation time -- just as Western Europeans do. Other questions are largely left to the state.
Principle Four: The left imposes its values on others whenever possible and to the extent possible. That is why virtually every totalitarian regime in the 20th century was left-wing. Inherent to all left-wing thought is a totalitarian temptation. People on the left know that not only are their values morally superior to conservative values, but that they themselves are morally superior to conservatives. Thus, for example, the former head of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, could say in all seriousness, “In contradistinction to the Republicans, we don't think children ought to go to bed hungry at night.”
Therefore, the morally superior have the right, indeed the duty, to impose their values on the rest of us: what light bulbs we use, what cars we drive, what we may ask a prospective employee, how we may discipline our children, and, of course, how much of our earnings we may keep.
It is dishonest to argue that the right wants to impose its values to anywhere near the extent the left does. This can be demonstrated to a fifth-grader: Who wants more power -- those who want to govern a big state or those who want to govern a small state?
The president of the United States and the much of the Democratic Party embody these left-wing principles. Right now, America's only hope of staying American rather than becoming European lies in making these principles as clear as possible to as many Americans as possible. The left is so giddy with power right now, we actually have a chance.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”