The “Independent Middle” Has No Ideas

“Cutting spending” — whether in a household or a government — implies value judgments and priorities. Value judgments and priorities imply ideas about what is and is not appropriate for spending. Those who say “we have to cut spending” without reference to “ideology” are, in essence, saying: “Cut spending and don’t fight over priorities.” It’s no wonder that in one election Democrats are fired, and then in the next election Republicans are fired, and then in the next election Democrats are fired yet again. While it’s true that politicians in both parties have no desire to cut spending, because it would reduce their personal power and influence, it’s likewise true that you cannot demand that they cut spending without having any idea of which spending to cut — and why.

The same issue is at work with the “independent middle.” Such people claim that “Obama’s too liberal and wrecking the country with his spending; but the tea party is just as bad in their extremism, with talk of privatizing Social Security and eliminating Cabinet departments.” OK, then. Which is the right way to go, and why? Should government grow more and more, or should it be cut? The deeper question: Should government have control over the individual’s life — or should the individual? Do governments have rights, or do individuals have rights? Adherents of the noncommittal “middle” have no answer. They only know that they don’t like Republicans and they don’t like Democrats. They cannot explain why, don’t want to do so and feel that they shouldn’t have to do so. This is what happens when you kill ideology. Without ideology, there are no ideas. There are only undigested and meaningless slogans which lead to incoherent policies. You get Presidents and leaders like — well, like George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In Obama’s case particularly, you can see that while he ran as a “post-ideological” candidate, he governs in the most decisive manner imaginable, as a hardcore leftist. Obama recognizes that there are no policies without ideas. He exploited the widespread American antipathy towards ideology to carry his own very definite, very explicit ideology of socialism (he calls it “change”) into power. Next time, of course, he’ll have to defend the ideas upon which all of his policies rest and he won’t be able to run from them.

Obama, like the last idiot in charge, will hopefully go away before too long. But Americans are still left with the dilemma: Which ideas, and why? They’re still stuck with the idea that there are no ideas and there shouldn’t be. This is a recipe for more and more of the same — getting worse all the time.