Christopher Demuth explains that, in endeavoring to establish European-style national health care in America, the left is acting upon a core belief: its faith in the calculative power of human reason to perfect the world.
[M]any liberals today are also progressives. They believe that the natural course of history is the emergence of secular rationality as the true way to think about problems and of state power as the effective way to organize society along rational lines. If that is your worldview, then such things as revealed religion, cultural tradition, and the marketplace (whose outcomes are spontaneous, not rationalized) are vestiges of our primitive past, sure to be displaced by the spreading application of human reason. When liberal politicians describe themselves as “progressives,” that is not just because “liberal” has acquired unpopular connotations but because progressive is the more accurate word for their core beliefs. President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid are progressives in this sense; many recent Democratic presidential candidates were as well—John Kerry, Al Gore, and Michael Dukakis.
The grip of progressivism is probably the best explanation for the Democratic Party’s astonishing campaign to nationalize the U.S. healthcare sector by all means necessary. To attempt to enact a radical and unpopular program in a bill that includes many corrupt provisions, on a party-line vote and through a procedural trick (if the “Slaughter solution” is employed) that seems clearly unconstitutional, appears quite mad and self-defeating to the outsider. But it is not mad at all to those who think it natural and obvious and historically inevitable that the government must administer medical care. In this view, the political actor is simply holding history’s coat while it does its work. Political untidiness, even the loss of an election, are transitory considerations. The progressive mindset also explains, as more than populist demagoguery, the contempt that the proponents of ObamaCare exhibit for doctors and pharmaceutical and medical-insurance companies—for they are the practitioners of a benighted form of healthcare that is about to be swept away by a new and higher form.
The best artistic expression of leftist faith is a new world ruled by secular experts is Mozart’s Masonic opera The Magic Flute (K. 620, 1791).
Liberalism/leftism is a secular religion, and the liberal impulse toward federalizing charity stems from a number of consistently present liberal impulses. Liberalism is a cult with the state at its center in which the credentialed intelligentsia is its priesthood. Anything expanding the power and responsibility of the state inevitably also aggrandizes and affirms the importance of its priesthood, so all state enlargement is good. Socializing, regulating, and nationalizing everything is seen as the fulfillment of the promise that the entire universe can be subdued and rationalized by the calculative powers of human reason wielded by the super-enlightened, educated class of experts. Mankind’s destiny and the fulfillment of the telos of History consists in the continual reduction of the natural, free, and disordered condition of mankind, the market and the world into an ordered, regulated, and managed sphere administered by the intelligentsia under the aegis of the state.
“Es lebe Sarastro! Sarastro soll leben! Er ist es, dem wir uns mit Freuden ergeben. Stets mög’ er des Lebens als Weiser sich freun, Er ist unser Abgott, dem alle sich weihn.”
The poor are invaluable to the priesthood of Leviathan, since it is their neediness which allows the most spoiled and privileged element of society to complain bitterly on their behalf and to demand indignantly that ordinary people surrender to them ever-increasing portions of their liberty and wealth. The poor must be assisted and cared for, you see.
The theoretical elimination of poverty by coercive wealth transfer and social engineering is a key goal of the left’s statist agenda. The replacement of the untidy state of Nature with a manicured and properly managed society is expected to demonstrate irrefutably the superiority of human reason over the former. The leveling of social and biological differences, the abolition of tragedy, and the replacement of charity with entitlement will also firmly establish the leftwing ideal of Égalité, it is supposed, as reality.
The implementation of this costly and coercive agenda is, of course, wholly agreeable to the left because each step in the process only enlarges the power, privilege, and importance of mankind’s enlightened new masters, and the entire process was always intended to be funded at the expense of the ordinary citizen, the general population.