The Party of Adults

 
mature-audiences

Candidates, please steal this.

Anyone who’s encountered (or recalls being) a teenager is familiar with the “Why can’t you just treat me like an adult!?” refrain. It’s powerful because adulthood is associated with liberty and a greater deal of control over one’s life, things just about everyone wants. The catch, of course, is that adulthood also entails greater responsibilities. Most people, however, decide — more or less … eventually … in most things — that they prefer the opportunities of maturity to the coddled safety of childhood.

The values the Right champions — work, family, initiative, ownership, decision-making, responsibility, etc. — share a central theme: they are the qualities of adulthood. We think citizens can manage their own affairs. We think they can deal with hard truths. We think they’re up to the task. Why? Because we assume they’re adults.

In word and deed, in speech and policy, all Republicans should take pains to communicate that we start from the assumption that citizens over the age of 18 are grownups. Sure, we disagree among ourselves over precisely what constitutes an adult life well-lived, and we happily concede that even grownups sometimes need help, but that’s where we start all our discussions. If we realize a system isn’t working properly, our first instinct is to ask whether there are too many controls mucking it up and adjust accordingly.

In contrast, Democrats begin with the assumption that, like children, we generally need to be taken care of and can’t be trusted to make our own decisions. Liberty is provisionally allowed in certain areas, but can be rescinded at a moment’s notice. If something isn’t working, it’s because there must be too few controls, which means we should add new rules on top of the existing ones to better control behavior.

For an illustration, consider how the requirements that we put on insurance drive up the price of healthcare by prohibiting citizens from weighing risks and costs by any standard other than the government’s. Consider further all the ways that Progressives restrict what kind of compensation arrangements citizens are allowed to enter into, as if they have a better grasp on what’s good for us than we do.

There are, sadly, many people who scoff at the idea of taking responsibility for their own lot, and our chances of ever reaching such people in the context of a political campaign are essentially zilch. There are millions more, however, who would respond positively to the prospect of being treated like a citizen to be respected, rather than a child to be condescended to.

There are 15 comments.

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  1. Luke Thatcher
    Luke
    @Luke

    This is adjacently something, over which, I’ve been lamenting …

    That there is some validity to it.

    • #1
  2. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: And there are, sadly, many people who scoff at the idea of taking responsibility for their own lot. Our chances of ever reaching such people in the context of a political campaign are essentially zilch.

    Do you put that number at about 47% of the electorate?

    • #2
  3. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    I don’t see how any of this gets me free stuff, Tom.

    • #3
  4. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Like, but with a caveat:

    The values the right champions — work, family, initiative, ownership, decision-making, responsibility, etc. — share a central theme: they are the qualities of adulthood. We think citizens can manage their own affairs. We think they can deal with hard truths. We think they’re up to the task. Why? Because we assume they’re adults.

    How do laws, supported by many (though by no means all) conservatives, which criminalize non-violent behaviour among consenting adults square with this axiom?

    • #4
  5. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Anyone who’s encountered (or recalls being) a teenager is familiar with the “Why can’t you just treat me like an adult!?” refrain. It’s powerful because adulthood is associated with….

    Said no one ever in my or my parents’ generation that I ever encountered.  The too obvious answer for us was, “Why can’t you just act like an adult?”  [absent the hyterical interrobang].  There’s no power in the refrain, except what we choose to grant it on the hearing.

    That has disappeared, though, and it’s not entirely a party-centric disappearance.  Parents of free-range kids are prosecuted for child abuse, even though those parents are roughly split between liberalism and conservatism, and so attacked by bureaucrats, not by party hacks.

    It’s an embarrassing failing of conservatives in the present Presidential contest, with the putative Republicans spending their time responding to Trump’s behavior rather than, like the adults they hold themselves out to be, talking about their policies and the general good that would flow from them.  That far-left Liberal, Elizabeth Warren, had this much adult sense when confronted with questions about her Native American “heritage” during her campaign for the Senate.

    The press says they’re being successfully drawn into coverage of Trump by his mastery of tabloid antics (as Howard Kurtz just put it), rather than, like actual adults, recognizing that their decision to respond to those tabloid antics is entirely their own voluntary one and not at all thrust on them from beyond their control.

    Getting the adult back into our grownups and older children is going to be a long, and generational, struggle.

    Eric Hines

    • #5
  6. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Misthiocracy: How do laws, supported by many (though by no means all) conservatives, which criminalize non-violent behaviour among consenting adults square with this axiom?

    That’s a fair criticism and one I meant to address. I agree that, for instance, drug laws are an exception to general rule. Which is a shame.

    • #6
  7. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Frank Soto:I don’t see how any of this gets me free stuff, Tom.

    Frank’s right, I’m worried I wouldn’t get a Meyerphone under this plan.

    • #7
  8. Bob Laing Member
    Bob Laing
    @

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Misthiocracy: How do laws, supported by many (though by no means all) conservatives, which criminalize non-violent behaviour among consenting adults square with this axiom?

    That’s a fair criticism and one I meant to address. I agree that, for instance, drug laws are an exception to general rule. Which is a shame.

    There are many exceptions to that rule when you really start digging.

    An example:  I always argue with my mother over the FCC and its role in regulating content.  Her and I fundamentally disagree on how to shield one’s family from unsavory media.  She insists the FCC needs to enforce decency standards.  I, on the other hand, believe that if content were unregulated, media providers, set manufacturers, etc. would create systems that would allow for custom filtering that would end up being more comprehensive and customized than the FCC broad brush approach.

    There is a strain of conservatism that lacks faith in the free market and believes in regulatory strong-arming.

    • #8
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Misthiocracy: How do laws, supported by many (though by no means all) conservatives, which criminalize non-violent behaviour among consenting adults square with this axiom?

    That’s a fair criticism and one I meant to address. I agree that, for instance, drug laws are an exception to general rule. Which is a shame.

    I submit that you can square the circle by amending the axiom thusly:

    The values the right champions — work, family, initiative, ownership, decision-making, responsibility, etc. — share a central theme: they are the qualities of adulthood. The legislation the right passes also shares a central theme: it is what we think voters will let us get away with. We think citizens can manage their own affairs, but we know that voters often don’t want to manage their own affairs. We think they can deal with hard truths, but we know that hard truths often result in electoral defeat. We think they’re up to the task, but we know they often vote otherwise. Why? Because we assume they’re adults, but we know they’re voters.

    • #9
  10. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Bob Laing: She insists the FCC needs to enforce decency standards. I, on the other hand, believe that if content were unregulated, media providers, set manufacturers, etc. would create systems that would allow for custom filtering that would end up being more comprehensive and customized than the FCC broad brush approach.

    Both seem to assume that the responsibility lies elsewhere than with the parents.  The parents shield.  And, no, they can’t shield their children from everything, but they can do what the FCC, the media providers, the set manufacturers, etc cannot do: talk with their children about what the kids have seen or otherwise encountered, and teach the weaknesses and flaws, the strengths of what they’ve seen.

    Eric Hines

    • #10
  11. Bob Laing Member
    Bob Laing
    @

    Eric Hines:

    Bob Laing: She insists the FCC needs to enforce decency standards. I, on the other hand, believe that if content were unregulated, media providers, set manufacturers, etc. would create systems that would allow for custom filtering that would end up being more comprehensive and customized than the FCC broad brush approach.

    Both seem to assume that the responsibility lies elsewhere than with the parents. The parents shield. And, no, they can’t shield their children from everything, but they can do what the FCC, the media providers, the set manufacturers, etc cannot do: talk with their children about what the kids have seen or otherwise encountered, and teach the weaknesses and flaws, the strengths of what they’ve seen.

    Eric Hines

    Your assumption is a bit off as both my mother and I recognize where ultimate responsibility lies. (She always threatened to remove the television from our house entirely).  We engage in theoretical arguments about what system would best assist parents in controlling content.  Now that I’m an adult, it’s more a thought exercise than anything else.  But to your point,  I don’t want to attempt to discuss with a five year old why Theon Greyjoy got his wiener chopped off on Game of Thrones if he happens to stumble across it..

    • #11
  12. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Bob Laing: I don’t want to attempt to discuss….

    To each his own.  My wife had no problem discussing with our four-year-old grandson why she “has no boobs.”

    Eric Hines

    • #12
  13. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Misthiocracy:How do laws, supported by many (though by no means all) conservatives, which criminalize non-violent behaviour among consenting adults square with this axiom?

    I have three obvious answers:

    1. Some behaviors lead us to believe that the “consenting adults” involved aren’t thinking clearly.  Serious drug abuse is an example.  I think that most of us have witnessed how addictions seem to gain control of people and overcome their mental competence.
    2. Many behaviors have externalities (a term from economics when the decision maker does not bear the full cost of his decision — pollution is an example).
    3. The idea that all non-violent behavior among consenting adults should be exempt from government regulation is not conservatism.  It is libertarianism.
    • #13
  14. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    All the political correctness we’ve seen these last few years (“Yes means Yes” policies, speech codes, trigger warnings, safe spaces, micro-aggressions, etc.) are symptoms of the left’s descent into childishness. Adults don’t need protection from the ordinary bumps and bruises of our social life.

    • #14
  15. Pete EE Member
    Pete EE
    @PeteEE

    Misthiocracy:Like, but with a caveat:

    How do laws, supported by many (though by no means all) conservatives, which criminalize non-violent behaviour among consenting adults square with this axiom?

    Are you talking about drug laws? prostitution? something else? I’ll assume it’s drugs.

    The freedom to inflict obvious self-harm in a society where people must self-support and bear the results of their actions is a reasonable and tenable position. I can’t say for sure that I agree since it is such an exotic hypothetical.

    We live in a world where utter refusal to self-support is met with more material support than earning minimum wage; every hour of the day is constrained by some regulation; and expressing wrong opinions publicly can lead to personal ruin (in Canada, that ruin can be administered by the state).

    Unencumbered freedom to self-harm in a socialized welfare state is not a tenable position.

    The conservative strives to achieve a moderate and consistent position. We regulate against the grossest of self-harm and support a safety-net that is minimal, easy to escape and as local and voluntary as possible

    • #15
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