A Rebuttal to the Mad Dog

Today on Facebook, the Mad Dog linked to Jon Favreau’s effort to praise Hillary Clinton. The Mad Dog added that his goal for the article was primarily to persuade the Mad Doc, but that he anticipated a snarky response from Your Genial Host, among others. I wrote a reply, but by the time I finished, it was the length of a sizable blog post, so I decided to transfer it here.

I’m going to try not to be snarky here. However, I think some of the very things Favreau cites as positives are reasons I couldn’t support her, and why if Trump is the GOP nominee, I’ll either vote Libertarian or abstain. Let’s stipulate that the things Favreau claims about her are true (I have my doubts, but I’ll play the game.)
Why does it matter that she cares — or claims to care? I’m reminded of Jay Nordlinger’s story about Phil Gramm:
He’s on MacNeil-Lehrer (I believe) with some woman from the education establishment. Gramm says, “My educational policies are based on the fact that I care more about my children than you do.” The woman says, “No, you don’t.” Gramm says, “Okay: What are their names?”
Does HRC know what my hopes and dreams are? Does she know what my daughter wants out of life? I don’t think so. In fact, I don’t particularly WANT her to know these things — they’re none of her business. It isn’t the government’s job to love me, which is good, because it isn’t capable of love.
HRC seems to disagree. In fact, she’s known to say things like “There’s no such thing as someone else’s child.” I find that repulsive. I was Madge and Warren’s child — not Hillary’s. The Spawn is my child — not HRC’s, not yours, and not Marian Wright Edelman’s. The State or the agencies of the state are not substitutes for the family — look at the dysfunctionality in communities where most of the population exist through government largesse.
If anything, I wish the government spent less time (and money) trying to care for me. Beyond a very select group of tasks (national defense, enforcement of contracts, protecting people from force or fraud, maybe a few others), most of life should be outside the scope of the State.
Further, the egalitarian vision HRC offers via Favreau (“no more barriers, and no more ceilings”) is incompatible with the vision of diversity she claims to embrace as a strength. Diversity means difference, which is the antithesis of equality. If we are individuals, we are not interchangeable. Everyone faces barriers, and everyone faces ceilings. There are things I do quite well, but there are also things I don’t do well at all. While there can be such a thing as equality before the law — which only occurs if the law has a fixed meaning, that “rule of law” thing Kevin Williamson referenced recently — even so, some people will succeed and others will fail. That’s diversity: different people taking different actions, succeeding or not, based on the consequences of those actions. The Mad Dog’s side seems to believe that people shouldn’t have to bear the consequences of their choices, or should be prevented from making choices if they might make poor ones. But the fact that some people succeed and others fail doesn’t mean the system is rigged; it means people aren’t interchangeable.
In fact, the system has to be rigged in order to achieve equality (or even similarity, really) of result. And again, it doesn’t matter how much one cares — that’s just the way life works. Attempts to force that equality have historically resulted in grand-scale horrors from the Terror to the Holodomor to Tuol Sleng.
But let’s pretend for a minute that people are just so many interchangeable widgets, that we are all tabulae rasae, free of self-regard, requiring only proper direction to achieve some sunlit upland of utopia. Even so, who is actually capable of directing that New Soviet Man? It’s the knowledge problem of Hayek, and it’s not solvable. The delusion that the right Top. Folks. can overcome that is what brought us the devastation of Mao’s Great Leap Forward. HRC lacks the omniscience her vision requires (as do we all, which is why it’s a crap vision.)
So let’s review: Favreau’s selling point (that HRC is a warm, caring person, despite 20+ years of contrary evidence) is at best irrelevant, and at worst a stalking horse for a fundamental disrespect for our own self-determination. Her visions of radical egalitarianism and diversity are fundamentally incompatible. Even were this not so, the technocratic vision she embraces fails to recognize the immense complexity of actual lived experience, and claims an ability to manage the incomprehensible.
Other than that, great article. OK, maybe I’m a little snarky.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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