By Mike Cronin
Today’s item is an update of “Will You Vote for a Beekeeper,” originally posted January 2, 2014.
The most basic (and most commonly employed) model of the political spectrum places Fascism (like Germany under Hitler and Italy under Mussolini) on the extreme right side of the scale, and Socialism or Communism (like the former Soviet Union or modern North Korea) on the extreme left side. A government, a country, or a person’s political position can be gauged on this spectrum.
The problem with this model is that while the ideologies of Fascism and Communism may differ on the surface, in practice they result in the same conditions for the vast majority of people who live under them: subjugation. There may be distinctions between the two on paper, but in reality both ideologies are collectivist; that is, they espouse that the state, or the party, or the race, or the group, i.e. the collective, is more important than the individual, and that the individual exists to serve the larger group. In other words, both of these forms of politics, Communism and Fascism, treat humans like bees or ants, i.e. as drones (or slaves). The individual’s rights don’t matter (or even exist), only the party, or country (or hive/colony, i.e. collective), matters.
The achievement of the founding fathers was in creating a nation founded on the concept that the individual has rights that are inherent, that is, they are not granted by the state, and that the sole purpose of government is to protect those individual rights. The implementation of this idea was flawed, but still gave rise to a nation that brought more liberty and prosperity to more people than any other in history. One of the hallmarks of the system the founders built is the peaceful transition of power that has attended every presidential election and inauguration (save perhaps Lincoln’s).
One of our most contentious campaign seasons will culminate with the general election on Tuesday. Consider: Whether a politician identifies as a liberal or a conservative, a Democrat or a Republican, does not matter as much as this: What does his or her character and voting record reveal about their understanding of individual rights? Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump are remarkable as candidates in that each was chosen by their party seemingly on the strength of name recognition over any other factor. (Both have been in the public eye on a national scale for 30+ years, far longer than any of the other candidates on either side.) They certainly haven’t been selected for their “sterling” personal attributes. Will we elect one of them based solely on popularity (or notoriety)? Can either of our candidates be considered defenders of our rights, or are we choosing between beekeepers?