The Conservative Myth Of Equal Opportunity

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It is often said that liberals believe in equality of results while conservatives believe in equality of opportunity. While this may be true, it is important to note that equality of results and equality of opportunity are both egalitarian frauds. Serious conservatives can no longer continue to promote the idea that equality of opportunity is something that is true and expect to reach people who know that it is false.

Conservatives are supposed to reject the glittering fallacies of utopianism that are foundational to liberal ideology. The conservative suggestion that we live in a world with equal opportunity, or that such a world is achievable, is demonstrably absurd.

Many people from underprivileged backgrounds have issues with the conservative idea of personal responsibility and picking up oneself by one’s own bootstraps. However, this is fundamentally a good philosophy. The reason why people despise bootstrap thinking is primarily the baggage that comes with it. Nobody can honestly say that working hard to help oneself out of poverty is an intrinsically negative suggestion, but the notion that it is something easy to do and that everyone has to go through it is absurd on its face. It is deeply offensive and false.

By what logic is there equality of opportunity for both a person born in the ghetto of Detroit, Michigan and a patrician who hails from Stamford, Connecticut? In what way is conservatism supposed to change that? The propositions that they are and it does are insulting to human intelligence. Do conservatives who promote the equal opportunity fraud propose that conservatism can erase the birth opportunities and privileges of the rich and bestow extra opportunities and privileges on those who are born into poverty? It is simply an unimpeachable fact of life that people are born with different opportunities. Some are born with many opportunities and resources and others are born with very little.

The key is not to tell the person who was born with little privileges that he was really born with the same as the person with many privileges. The key is to tell him that despite his start in life, hard work in America can make his end far more prosperous than his beginning. This is a message of opportunity, but it is not a message of equal opportunity. After delivering a genuine message of opportunity, it is the conservative’s responsibility to fight for policies that make sure we live in a society where the fruits of the labor of those who work hard are bountiful, regardless of their respective socioeconomic starting points.

Perhaps the reason for the creation of the equal opportunity canard was to combat leftist class warfare. The Marxist’s modus operandi has always been to demonize the rich and cast capitalism as an oppressive system that ranks with some of the most malefic ideas in world history. They do this while making the most ludicrous excuses for the manifold evils and failures of Marxism. However, the way you deal with preposterous leftist slogans is not to create your own equally ridiculous slogans; it is to refute their inaccurate points with coherent counterarguments and an alternative fact-based vision.

What conservatives need to argue for is a society in which people use the cards that life has dealt them to work hard and do the best they can to achieve. Conservatives should be honest that life deals some people bad cards and others perfect cards. Society should be set up to help those on the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder to climb by making sure their hard work is rewarded financially and that confiscatory taxes do not take away their hard-earned wages.

Conservatives should be promoting the truth that limited government that allows for an unobstructed private sector has a positive effect in helping all those who take advantage of it. Conservatives should also be advancing the freeing power of entrepreneurialism, and how the risk of starting a business is something that can and does pay off. While all these things are true, serious conservatives must also be honest about the fact that people do fall through the cracks, and that there are people with privileges and others who are underprivileged. Being dishonest about privilege and opportunity turns people off from hearing the conservative message.

Conservatism is an ideology that is fundamentally based on realism. Mimicking the left’s enchantment with utopianism and presenting the charming mendacity that equality of opportunity can be achieved only does damage to the conservative message in the long run. It suggests conservatives are incapable of presenting a fact-based worldview that can countervail the left’s bleak worldview that is based on tried, tested, and failed ideals to which they still desperately cling. If conservatives are going to do a better job of appealing to non-traditional audiences, jettisoning verifiable falsehoods about equal opportunity is compulsory.