In general, the Left does not ask the question, "What will happen next?" when formulating social policy. Not thinking through the long-range consequences of their positions is liberalism's tragic flaw.
Take almost any position that distinguishes the Left:
Will higher taxes help the economy?
The major reason the Left advocates tax increases is not that these tax increases will help the American economy. Higher taxes rarely help the economy, and most liberals don't even make that argument. Their argument is about equality, the Left's paramount value. The animating factor for the Left is narrowing the gap between the rich and poor. That is why so few on the Left have had moral problems with Fidel Castro's totalitarian regime -- Cubans may not have liberty, but almost all Cubans are equally poor. Likewise, that explains left-wing support for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez even as he develops into a Castro-like dictator: He advocates economic equality.
Is continued illegal immigration good for America or for Mexico?
Regarding illegal immigration, what most concerns the Left is not the consequences of illegal immigration. It is compassion for the illegal immigrant. Now, I happen share that concern -- were I a poor Mexican seeing no hope for me or my children in my corrupt homeland, I, too, would try to enter America illegally. But it is not enough to have compassion for the illegal immigrant; the responsible citizen needs to consider the consequences of vast numbers of people illegally entering his country. If America is increasingly unable to sustain -- economically, demographically, in terms of crime -- the great number of illegal immigrants, it is incumbent on all responsible people to figure out how to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. It is not even good for Mexico, because it enables that country to avoid needed reforms. Any country that knows its poorest citizens can go to another country from which they will also send back billions of dollars is hardly being pressured into doing anything about its poverty.
Is bilingual education good for immigrant children?Here, too, compassion trumps effectiveness. The country that has successfully assimilated the greatest percentage of immigrants is Israel, and that country does not have bilingual education. Immigrant children in its public schools are immersed in Hebrew, despite the fact that Hebrew is far more difficult than English is for most of its immigrants (especially those speaking Latin languages). But it is not what works that matters for liberals advocating bilingual education; it is their perception of compassion and multiculturalism.
Does affirmative action help black students?
The Left supports colleges changing admissions standards to enable more African Americans, among other minorities, to enroll. Despite all the evidence that such policies often hurt minority students -- they fail or drop out of college at greater rates than other students; they are not prepared for the demands of a more elite college; they feel they are seen as not having entered the college on their own merits -- liberals continue to support race-based affirmative action. It may not help blacks, but they nevertheless deserve it because of America's racist past.
What would the Kyoto Protocols do to the American and world economies?
As noted by the internationally respected Danish environmentalist Professor Bjorn Lomborg, the economic price America would pay if it abided by the Kyoto Protocols on carbon emissions would catastrophically impact the American -- and therefore world -- economy. Moreover, abiding by the Protocols would have a negligible effect on carbon emissions and global warming. But the Left has embraced global warming hysteria. And hysteria it is -- according to the latest UN report, for example, the potential ocean level increase due to global warming is 1 foot, not the 20 feet of Al Gore's documentary on global warming and lower than the 1.5 feet projected in the previous UN report.
Left-wing "peace activists" do not seem to concern themselves with the question of what happens if their policies are enacted and America leaves Iraq. But those of us who are concerned with this question are certain that war and murder, torture and rape of the innocent will increase. That is why "peace activist" is usually a misnomer. They usually bring war, not peace.
Does nationalized health insurance work?
Press reports and formal studies about Canada's and Britain's health care strongly suggest that those nationalized health care systems provide increasingly poor care to their nations' citizens. But for those on the Left who want nationalized health insurance to come to America, Sweden is the preferred model, as if a relatively tiny, homogeneous, nearly all-middle-class country provides a more effective model than Canada or the United Kingdom.
In the view of many liberals, "What happens next?" is a pragmatic, but not idealistic, question by which to guide social policy. In fact, however, no question is as idealistic as "What happens next?" Asking it means that social policy is made by noble and compassionate minds, not hearts alone. In the rest of life, thinking through the consequences of actions is called "responsible" and "mature." Those remain worthy goals in public life as well.