A little while ago, I heard some commentator note that Democrats, as a general rule, oppose giving the people any choice in matters — unless the matter involves sex. It seemed like a good observation — they don’t think we can choose whether or not to wear seat belts, get health insurance, serve in the military (note that the biggest — and nearly only — proponents for reinstating the draft are Democrats), give more money to the government, or a host of other examples. It’s only in matters related to sex (gay rights, gay marriage, abortion, etc. etc.) that they are champions of “choice.”
I’ve been thinking about that a lot, tossing it around and bouncing it off walls, and I think I’ve refined it a smidgen: as a general rule, the Democrats don’t want the people to choose — unless it’s in a way that doesn’t really matter.
Health insurance? You can choose to get yours through work or get yours through the government. But the idea that you might want to go without — for whatever reason — is NOT an option.
Buy a vehicle? Sure. But don’t even THINK of getting a big, gas-guzzling SUV. Whether or not you have a valid reason for wanting one, or can afford the gas and simply want one, you can’t have one. They’ll slap you with extra taxes, or just juggle the gas mileage laws so the manufacturers simply can’t afford to sell you what you want.
Send your kids to a better school? No problem — as long as you don’t mind paying for your kid’s education twice. You get to pay for the school they think your kid should go, and if you ask for a voucher to go elsewhere, fuggedaboutit.
Join a union or not? If history is any indicator, sure — but you still get to pay your dues. And member or not, you generally have NO say in how those dues are spent — especially those that end up in politicians’ coffers.
You can even hear it in their opposition to the war in Iraq. One of the more common terms used to assail it is “choice” — “led us into a war of choice,” “chose to lead us into an unnecessary war,” and the like. Regardless of one’s position on the war, the use of the term “choice” as a pejorative is rather revealing.
And now back to sex. Here, they can’t abolish “choice,” so they simply devalue it. Homosexuality isn’t a “choice,” it’s simply how people were born. (I think this one has some merit, but let me let this one slide.) And when it comes to abortion, the strategy is to simply make the “choice” as meaningless as possible. Have the baby, abort it — it’s all the same.
The libertarian in me rebels against this. I want the right to make choices in my life, and I demand the right to be responsible for those decisions. I want my choices about my life to mean something, for good or ill — because they’re MY choices, about MY life.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve quoted David Gerrold’s “A Matter For Men,” but he had the best definition of freedom I’ve ever heard: “the right to be responsible for one’s actions.” I insist on the right to do as I wish, and demand that I be held responsible for them — for good or ill.
If I am protected from the consequences of my bad choices (and they are legion), then I have no right to be proud of the good choices I make. Those who would “protect” me from my bad choices are doing me no service — they are simply trying to give me a more comfortable slave’s collar, gild the bars of the cage they put me in to keep me safe.
Keep your collars and cages, people. I demand the right to fail — because if I can’t fail, then any successes are meaningless. They mean nothing unless I earn them — because anything someone else gives you, then someone else can take away. As Gerald Ford (and not Barry Goldwater) said, “a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
(Editor’s note: mention of Iraq war added after initial publication. Also, another version with a less-than-accurate title was initially published, then deleted.)