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The Gipper Helps Explain My Discomfort With Notion of “Equality”

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:45 pm - June 3, 2011.
Filed under: Conservative Ideas,Freedom,Ronald Reagan

As readers of this blog know, I frequently take issue with the various gay groups’ obsession with the notion of “equality.”  In the last century, we saw how many advocates of this ideal sought to enforce it through the heavy hand of the state through regulations which limit the freedom of private enterprises and even individuals.

Reading today in the the latest collection of the Gipper’s writings,The Notes: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom, I caught this note which gets at my discomfort with all this “equality” rhetoric:

The real Am[erican] idea is not that every man shall be on a level with every other, but that every man shall have the liberty without hindrance to be what God made him. The office of gov[ernmen]t is not to confer happiness but to give men the opp[ortunity] to work out happiness for themselves.

The policy, it would seem, would then be to eliminate laws which constrain our freedom rather than to enact ones which (supposedly) ensure our equality.

UPDATE:  In the very next notecard quoted in the book, the Gipper takes on equality more directly, citing Edmund Burke:

A perfect equality will indeed be produced — that is to say equal wretchedness, equal beggary, and on the part of practitioners a woeful, helpless and desperate disappointment.  Such is the event of all compulsive equalizations.  They pull down what is above; they never raise what is below; they depress high & low together, beneath the level of what was originally the lowest.



  1. The gay left notion of “equality” only applies to anyone they think they can get into the sack with. Average, slightly overweight, gay conservatives need not apply.

    Comment by TGC — June 3, 2011 @ 2:54 pm - June 3, 2011

  2. I think this saying of de Tocqueville to be rather apropos;

    Equality is a slogan based on envy. It signifies in the heart of every republican: “Nobody is going to occupy a place higher than I.”

    Napoleon spoke a variant of to the effect that the French were unable to take anything seriously except equality, and that a Frenchman would even give that up if he would be assured that he could be higher than his neighbor — equality in the sense that everyone would be master.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — June 3, 2011 @ 4:05 pm - June 3, 2011

  3. “The policy, it would seem, would then be to eliminate laws which constrain our freedom rather than to enact ones which (supposedly) ensure our equality.”

    wouldn’t the first act needed to be the repeal of the 14th amendment then since those laws ensuring equality has its basis in this amendment?

    Comment by The Griper — June 3, 2011 @ 4:12 pm - June 3, 2011

  4. Griper, um, you must have read a 14th Amendment quite different from the one in the federal constitution. The amendment doesn’t once include the noun, “equality” and only once includes the adjective, “equal” to modify “protection of the laws.” That doesn’t mean enacting news laws, but applying the existing ones in an even-handed manner.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — June 3, 2011 @ 4:27 pm - June 3, 2011

  5. In “the Art of Politics” John Kekes makes the case that if you privilege one or two political values over all others, then you become an ideologue: a hammer to which every problem is just another nail. You always know the answer. For the left, the answer is always equality or justice, for libertarians, individual freedom. But politics, if it’s meant to deal with reality, should somehow reflect how complicated real life is, no?

    Comment by EssEm — June 3, 2011 @ 7:03 pm - June 3, 2011

  6. Dan, excellent distillation of the salient passages in the 14th amendment… and that very failure to enact current laws in an even-handed manner is the crux of how many “equality” trains have run off the track and plowed through various rights of many. Apart from discrimination, this administration would probably be more permissive if a “blue” state that supports Obama for whatever reason would want to enforce immigration laws but Arizona must be made an example of when it tries to do the same.

    The reason I originally supported the gay equality movements without question was because of the stories about laws protecting the rights of all were ignored if the party in question was gay. Unfortunately, there are too many now who are fine with completely turning it the opposite way and the end result is that laws are still not enforced in even-handed manners. I keep hoping that more gay and lesbians will understand that ensuring free speech rights of those opposed to same-sex relationships including the Phelps family, that don’t cause harm to others, actually betters the cause of receiving equal treatment under the law.

    Comment by PopArt — June 3, 2011 @ 7:09 pm - June 3, 2011

  7. Well, historically majorities in human societies are very accepting once they’re sure they are not threatened by a given minority. Using threatening rhetoric is counterproductive, and is effective only so far as the elite see through the tactics and do not feel threatened.

    Still, there are times when such tactics seem to be called for. It’s hard to tell; the vast majority of such tactics seem to have failed, historically, but it’s probably too soon to say that for certain.

    Comment by joeedh — June 3, 2011 @ 7:22 pm - June 3, 2011

  8. “Equality” in Democrat terminology is code for bigger centralized government also known as Communism; it is a path of failure & corruption. However, when Democrats talk, they say it has been done wrong in the past & they know better. Ironically, they make the very same mistakes in their own delusional arrogance. President Reagan’s words remain true & prescient.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — June 3, 2011 @ 8:31 pm - June 3, 2011

  9. if you privilege one or two political values over all others, then you become an ideologue: a hammer to which every problem is just another nail… But politics, if it’s meant to deal with reality, should somehow reflect how complicated real life is, no?

    But if you don’t know what you want, you lessen your chance of getting it.

    Politics (and ideology, for that matter) must align with reality and with human nature, but there is nothing wrong with picking a supreme value. If you can’t pick the thing you value most and stand up for it, you’re sure to lose to someone who can.

    In my case, yes, the supreme value is individual freedom (understood as rights to life, liberty and property under the Rule of Law). Guilty as charged.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — June 4, 2011 @ 1:23 am - June 4, 2011

  10. equal opportunity and equal results are no where near the same thing.

    Comment by Nathan — June 4, 2011 @ 6:55 am - June 4, 2011

  11. “Equality” in Democrat terminology is code for bigger centralized government also known as Communism; it is a path of failure & corruption.

    Long story short, equal misery.

    Comment by TGC — June 4, 2011 @ 8:12 am - June 4, 2011

  12. TGC, as the Gipper said, as per the second quote.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — June 4, 2011 @ 11:26 am - June 4, 2011

  13. If you don’t believe in God, then the Founders’ notions of equality can make little sense to you. They believed we were equal before God. That had nothing to do with being fungible, and certainly didn’t mean we were identical. It had nothing to do with outcome, or with material goodies owed us by others — from whom we had any right to steal.

    Comment by Lori Heine — June 4, 2011 @ 2:58 pm - June 4, 2011

  14. Lori, the problem is the Democrats want to replace God with centralized government, Communism; they will never say this is the goal for fear of political repercussions. But this is their true goal. The Democrats must be voted out or severely diminished to the point of sad sock puppets of the damned. Otherwise, the USA is on the way to the USSA. First is the “fundamental transformation” of a capitalistic economy to a government European economy then the next step is a dictatorship.

    I believe enough people are paying attention now given the high inflation, unemployment, & job stagnation, but the Democrats still want the throw everything the United States of America & the Constitution & God all down the toilet or into the paper shredder. They must be stopped.

    The Democrats are now completely taken over by Communists.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — June 4, 2011 @ 4:29 pm - June 4, 2011

  15. Oh come on. Democrats aren’t communist, their big-buissiness/big-union corporatists (ala Germany, but far more dysfunctional). They suck, they encourage bigotry among Americans to motivate minorities to vote for them, and the downfall of the center-right faction has utterly destroyed their ability to govern. But they aren’t communists.

    Comment by joeedh — June 4, 2011 @ 4:34 pm - June 4, 2011

  16. Joe, you’re in denial; they want to people to be completely dependent on the government. This is why they forced the vote on ObamaCare & have many more regulations on private businesses. It’s the first step to serfdom–something completely antithetical to America’s foundation. Ironically, ObamaCare remains radioactive. All of Obama’s so-called accomplishments are radioactive. There’s a reason why he’s not running on his record but on demagoguery of the Republicans.

    It’s not working if you’re paying attention. Obama wants to complete the transformation with Card Check, Amnesty 2.0, & so-called green energy initiatives. In the current context of inflation & high unemployment, President Obama might as well be showing his &*%$ to all the world. He got booed Friday at the Chrysler plant while he looked like he was standing on nails trying to explain the 54,000 jobs created last month.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — June 4, 2011 @ 4:50 pm - June 4, 2011

  17. “…sad sock puppets of the damned”

    Sebastian, that is a great line. I think I’m going to use that, from now on, in my debates with Leftist friends.

    Comment by Lori Heine — June 4, 2011 @ 6:33 pm - June 4, 2011

  18. Dan,
    i agree with you on the intent of the 14th amendment. but show me a law meant to ensure this equality that doesn’t rely on that amendment in order to test its constitutionallity.

    one more thing. if it can be shown that the law is being applied equally by one means then on what basis do we have to use another criteria to show it isn’t being applied equally?

    Comment by The Griper — June 4, 2011 @ 8:45 pm - June 4, 2011

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