As you may have read, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had this to say when Bill Maher asked about the prospect of Republicans retaking the Senate in November:
It would be very important for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if Republicans win the Senate.
Building the ever expanding case against Pelosi’s sanity, this comment also raises some relevant questions regarding the effect of public policy upon civilization. First, we must understand what civilization is, and what distinguishes it from the wild. Then we must ask what conditions are required for civilization to exist.
The word “civilization” holds a variety of definitions when used in different contexts. It could mean little more than a community of people living together in one place, or could imply a high level of sophisticated culture.
Certainly, civilization stands apart from the wild in offering some level of protection. Living in the wild means enduring the constant threat of attack from predatory animals or hostile human beings. At its most basic level, civilization provides some barrier, if even just a wall or a herd, to protect against those threats.
Since the Enlightenment, we should infuse our definition of civilization with the recognition and protection of individual rights. After all, it’s possible to live behind the walls of a city or under the “protection” of a king who feeds off your life and labor. The wild proves preferable to oppression in most contexts. By that standard, a country like the United States represents civilization, while a nation engaged in oppression, negligence, or corruption proves uncivilized.
So if we’re going to play the game of which major political party most threatens civilization, it seems clear that Pelosi and her Democrat cohort deserve the most scrutiny. Just consider what the Senate majority is focused on at this very moment. They’re pursuing student loan refinancing, a euphemism for redistribution of wealth, placing a great burden upon taxpayers. They’re pursuing campaign finance reform, undermining the freedoms of speech and association. Meanwhile, they’re ignoring the threat posed by ISIS, refusing to take up legislation to revoke passports from known ISIS collaborators. In other words, rather than protecting citizens from rights violations, they’re engaging in them.
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 7:52 minutes long; 7.62 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)