A very enlightening video has popped up on the blogosphere today. The video is of Congressman Pete Stark - a Californian Democrat - answering a question about heath care at a town hall meeting. The question is articulated extremely well (although she might go on a little longer than is polite, and I am not sure about her comparison with slavery!) but what is interesting is how Stark just has no problem with dismissing the Constitution, and is happy to say that "The Federal Government can do most anything in this country". Take a look...
Now, obviously it is very easy for one's immediate reaction to be one of shock. After all it is a shocking statement. The woman asking the question says "If the government can do this, what can't it do?" and Stark basically answers "There is nothing it can't do!" This is the complete opposite of the American ideal, and contrary to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution that sought to limit government, not to expand it.
However, once you get over his brazenness, I think it provides an interesting insight into how the mind of the left wing works. It isn't that Stark is evil, or a traitor, or anything like that, he just thinks with a typically left-wing mindset.
For conservatives, the ends do not justify the means. This is the clearest example of the Judeo-Christian influence that exerts itself upon conservative philosophy. You cannot do something bad or immoral in order to chase after a perceived good end result. So for instance, even a 90% income tax would help the economy (which it would not) it would still be wrong to do it, as it is immoral to confiscate vast percentages of someone's income.
There are two clear reasons for this philosophy. The first is that conservatives view actions as inherently right or wrong. With a belief in an objective right or wrong, actions are therefore right or wrong as well. As a result there are definite good and bad means. The second is that conservatives realise that ends are unreliable, while means are immediate. By this I mean that we know what our immediate actions (our means) will be, and while we might intend the end of our actions to be good, we cannot know until we have done them. If we allow ourselves to do bad or evil things in order to chase after a vague good end, we might never achieve that end - simply ending up with a legacy of evil and immoral actions. Therefore the guide to achieving good ends must include the preface that our means must first be good.
The worst tyrannies are committed by allowing the ends to justify the means. Almost all dictators have committed horrible atrocities in the hope of some future paradise - they have allowed the ends to justify the means. As a result, when they fail to achieve their ends, they end up with a legacy of tyranny, death and destruction. It is the legacy of Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Che, Pol Pot and Castro. All have allowed their aim of whatever paradise they envision to justify their means.
It is this latter view that the modern left use to justify their actions. They begin with a premise. "It is good to make sure all people have access to decent healthcare." Agreed. This then we can define as their end - "We aim to make sure all people have access to decent healthcare." Again, this is fine. However, the left allow their ends to justify the means -so in their logic it means that they can do anything they wish in order to achieve their noble end. This is assisted by the fact that many on the left have a purely subjective view of morality, nothing is right or wrong in and of itself, it is only wrong "for me" or "for you". With this view of morality, there can be no intrinsically "bad means", and therefore they can do whatever it takes to achieve their ends.
It is here when Pete Stark's comments come into their own context. He believes himself to have a good and moral end, and as a result is prepared to do whatever it takes to get there. If that means massive government expansion - fine. If that means severe rationing of care - fine. If that means hyper taxes and and a ruined economy - fine, fine, fine. All that matters for Stark is that his intentions are noble, and as a result the ends justify the means.
It is an extremely dangerous idea, and is present in anywhere that one find left-wing ideas. Britain has been destroyed time after time by the tyranny of those with good intentions, and it is important that America does not allow itself to be ruled by those who allow their ends to justify their means.