Beware The Best And The Brightest

William McGurn gets to the heart of the difference between liberals and conservatives:

…Many of the people in the Obama administration, the president included, enjoy all the credentials we associate with the best and the brightest: the right schools, the good grades, the successful careers. Alas, whether it be allocating health care or defining the kind of jobs the economy ought to create, the policies they favor suggest a strong belief that they know what’s best not just for themselves, but for everyone else too.

Of course, the kind of people who are apt to push for government-imposed solutions are those who are also apt to believe they will be the ones imposing decisions, not the ones who have to live with decisions imposed by others. Sometimes that’s because they enjoy the wealth that gives them escape hatches unavailable to the less affluent, such as their ability to ensure that their own children never have to set foot in a public school. Mostly, however, their trust in government reflects their confidence that they have all the answers and that it’s government’s job to enforce them.

What about conservatives? Don’t we have confidence in our judgment and abilities? Of course we do. The difference is that we trust free citizens to make decisions about themselves—and are skeptical about government. As someone who worked inside a White House, I say you really believe government should be small when you see your friends running it.

Now, I know there are people who believe that George W. Bush was a Big Government Republican. And you can make arguments about spending and so forth. Even so, however, there’s simply no comparison with the Obama administration.

That’s because conservatives believe that even our smartest friend is no match for the collective wisdom of the marketplace. If we were to wake up and find that someone we knew well had been given control over some important part of the economy, the conservative would not likely think, “Everything will be fine now that Harry’s in charge.” Far more likely we’d be saying to ourselves, “If it weren’t for his wife, Harry would be wearing red and purple socks every day—and we’re giving him that kind of power?”

Mr. Obama and his team appear to be unburdened by such modesty…

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