Much to the chagrin of liberals out there, a significant number of conservatives reading this piece probably moved to the Right for exactly the same reason that I did. It was because of a single man… Rush Limbaugh. This is from a piece I wrote back in 2009 explaining how I went to college as a politically naïve, wishy-washy boy and left college as a deeply conservative man:
Personally, I’m a conservative because of Rush Limbaugh. You see, back in college, I knew very little about politics, but wanted to learn more. So, I listened to my college professors to get the liberal perspective. It was an eye-opening experience to be told that America needed to abandon its military and use non-violent resistance as a defense strategy. Learning that I was a “fascist” for saying that America should retain the right to do a nuclear-first strike against the Soviet Union was quite a surprise as well. That’s what I was hearing from my liberal college professors. I wasn’t very impressed. To find out what conservatives believed, I decided to listen to the most famous conservative I knew of at the time: Rush Limbaugh. After being exposed to his pragmatic, common-sense ideas about how our government and country should work, I realized that I was learning more listening to his show than I was in any of my college classes. Soon thereafter, I started thinking of myself as a conservative and the rest is history.
People who never listened to Rush would tell you he did a bigoted, angry show. Those of us who did listen to him could tell you he was a keen political analyst who understood how the world worked, cheerfully explained it to his audience, and wished for all Americans to be successful.
All that being said, this is not a column about Rush Limbaugh. It’s a column about one of the most important, if not the most important question that people in a successful society should be asking on a regular basis.
That question is, “Does it work?”
Does a policy make life better for a majority of people or does it not? Does a policy make for a happier, more productive, more successful society or does it not?
Granted, that’s not the ONLY question that should be asked. For example, contrary to what many people seem to believe, you could make a good argument that when slavery was legal, it retarded the economic growth of the South and didn’t benefit most southerners. However, even if it had made the South prosperous and most southerners had benefited from it, it still would have been the wrong way to go because it was morally abhorrent.
That’s a very valid way of looking at things. However, it comes with a very large “BUT” attached to it.
In a deeply divided, multi-cultural society that heavily values freedom of choice and is full of different value systems, once you get beyond the basics, making decisions about what our society should and should not do primarily based on “morals” or “fairness” will almost inevitably lead to disaster. That’s partially because “morals,” “fairness,” and effectiveness often tend to be unrelated, but also because once you get beyond slavery, murder, wife-beating, and a few other topics, there are such deeply entrenched differences about what the “fair” and “moral” thing to do is, that it’s impossible to bring people together on a subject. For example, imagine a group of Nancy Pelosi liberals and Ted Cruz conservatives trying to reach an agreement on the “moral” and “fair” course of action regarding patriotism, gun control, welfare, and abortion. It wouldn’t matter if they spent the next year debating the subject day and night, ultimately, they’d be hopelessly deadlocked about what the best course of action happens to be.
This has become an enormous problem in America because so many of the policies we pursue as a society are now primarily underpinned by extraordinarily controversial and dubious “moral” and “fairness” claims while almost no thought is put into their practicality or effectiveness. “Does it work” is not even on the agenda.
For example, that’s a great description of the “trans” debate. Supposedly, promoting transsexuality to young children, demanding that psychologists encourage it, and calling for people to pretend that they can change sexes is supposedly such a moral imperative that any and all protests against it must be swept aside. However, even if you set aside the fact that a majority of Americans don’t agree with pushing the trans agenda on children or think that it’s unfair to women, what about the practical questions we should be asking about all of this? Does having biological men competing against women in sporting events and sharing bathrooms with them make sense? Are we actually falsely convincing impressionable young children that they’re trans with all the pro-trans propaganda we bombard them with non-stop? If that’s so — and I certainly think it is — that is a deadly mistake. Statistics show that roughly .5% of adults over 18 have made a suicide attempt in their lifetime. When you talk about people that are trans, those numbers go up to roughly 40%. We’re constantly being told that we have to do this or that to make it less likely that people that are trans will kill themselves, but wouldn’t the best way to prevent suicides among that population be to stop encouraging them to become trans in the first place? These are topics that get to the heart of the issue, and shouldn’t we be having real discussions about them?
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