The other day, a few “progressive” members of the armed intelligentsia pleaded that I not drive away supporters of the 2nd amendment who are among the center-left. Apparently, the fidelity of left-leaning supporters toward the 2nd amendment is tentative and easily cleaved from the edifice of freedom lovers with divisive words. Liberals love guns too, you know. I am a human being. I can and do, in fact, hold contradictory thoughts. I possess unresolved dilemmas that pit competing values, one against the other. I get it, but let me assure you my liberal friends, you will not be able to hold to your New Deal progressivism AND your gun rights, at least not over successive generations . . .
“Why?” you ask, realizing that I am obviously a conservative ass who scoffs at compromise. “Because” I respond, “Progressives do not understand freedom like I do, and our views of freedom are fundamentally incompatible.”
The 2nd Amendment has many purposes. Self-protection from criminals, support of the state against foreign enemies and protection of citizens from the state are three major utilities of gun rights. The first two have a lengthy roster of examples throughout our history. The latter, only a handful and those did not end all that well for the rebels.
Still, though the Whiskey Rebellion was quelled and the Union was preserved, I think there has always been a credible threat that the government may have a fight on its hands if it went too far.
But going too far is baked into the cake of progressivism.
To me, freedom is not “stuff I like.” Freedom is the right to generally do what I choose and rise or fall on my own merits. I often see examples of actions I don’t consider wise, praiseworthy or profitable but unless they are kinfolk or close friends, it’s really none of my damned business. But the pointy end of the progressive movement is populated by those for whom there is nothing that is none of their damned business.
To me, government’s job is to secure the “negative rights” as Progressives call them – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - and to otherwise leave me and my neighbors alone to conduct our affairs. Lock up criminals, settle disputes, keep the Japs, Nazis and Terrorists on their side of the border.
There are many things I consider wise, fruitful or prudent, but I wouldn’t want them to carry the force of law. Proggies, however, simply do not think this way. They repeat FDR’s muddled four freedoms wistfully and believe freedom from want means taxing the shirt off someone who makes one dollar more per year than they do.
From Wickard to Kelo, progressives are contemptuous of anything that interferes with “what we want.” Want higher prices for wheat? Fine a farmer for growing too much. Want private property to yield higher taxes for municipal programs? Take it from one property owner and give it to another. Supreme Court got you down? Pack it with two more friendly justices.
It is this compulsion of the Progressive mentality to use the power of the state to produce desired changes in society without regard to the constitution and ultimately, the rule of law. Progressives are so sure of the righteousness of their POV, they are OK with skipping over “convince the people” and go straight to “compel the people.”
In contrast, I realize that there are many good things that the constitution would not permit the state to make compulsory, and I am satisfied this coercive path to achieving a desired end is not open to my desired outcome. Rare is the progressive so humble.
All of which means that eventually the progs will go too far. I think they know it, which is why the home of gun control activism is found on the left, and the gun controls we are currently undoing were a monument to progressive thinking. Theirs is a jealous god, and they understand intuitively that an armed citizenry is a constant existential threat to their preferred policies.
We are bitter clingers to our guns and religion. Until we no longer cling bitterly to firearms and providence, we will always thwart their more perfect vision of progressivism. If the constitution is a contract between the people and their government, the 2nd Amendment is the enforcement clause of last resort. The progressive vision where regulation and centralization managed by an elite cadre of beneficent functionaries demands unfettered control over the social environment, and armed citizens saying “no” just won’t do.
If you want Obamacare, if you want New York fatasses to be served sugary drinks in limited quantities, if you want taxpayer money shoveled to private businesses to support “green energy” then your faux-freedom from want is on a collision course with actual freedom. Not if, when.
God forbid, but should the ramparts be erected and fellow gun-owners walk the post against a government that has gone too far, I have no confidence that “progressive” gun owners will side with the people in limiting government power. If you won’t protect the right to keep and bear Big Gulps, why should I trust your understanding of the right to keep and bear arms?