Most of us don't enjoy being preached at, especially outside our chosen places of worship.
Unfortunately, a lot of the political debate these days seems to be just that. We no longer have mere differences of opinion or arguable policy positions. If I disagree with you, or you disagree with me, it must indicate some deep moral failing on the other person's part.
This is probably why many people—on both sides of the political spectrum—take such pleasure in exposing the hypocrisy of all those politicians, pundits, and celebrities who have decided their mission in life is to tell us how to live ours.
The latest installment in hypocrisy-busting comes from the right—a highly entertaining evisceration of the entertainment industry, Hollywood Hypocrites by Jason Matera.
Matera, one of the new breed of conservative muckrakers—who has gotten his camera punched out by Chris Rock no less—chronicles the widespread absurdity of Hollywood's coke- pot- and fame-addled celebrities, who aren't content to simply live beyond most of people's fantasies of extreme wealth, but want to set themselves up as paragons of exceptional virtue as well.
Thus we have Barbara Streisand warning about a "Global Warming Emergency" and hectoring us to "make a difference" by cutting back on the conveniences in our own lives, while her contracts demand that she be supplied with "120 bath-sized towels immediately upon arrival" when on tour. Wouldn't 100 towels be enough? Or there is avid Obama supporter and advocate of higher taxes on the rich, Bruce Springsteen exploiting a tax loophole to avoid paying millions in taxes on his New Jersey estate.
Then there are eco-warriors like Sting, George Clooney, Leonardo Del Caprio, Harrison Ford, and Al Gore and their addiction to private jets. The examples, as they say, could fill a book, and have.
Liberals, on the other hand, have their own lists. The Daily Kos has compiled a rather long one, helpfully arranged in alphabetical order, of everything from evangelical preachers caught with their pants down to conservative politicians preaching family values while carrying on adulterous affairs. One might quibble here and there, but many of the targets are beyond dispute.
So does that make it all a draw in the contest to see who is the biggest hypocrite?
In one sense, yes, because human fallibility isn't a monopoly of any party or political persuasion. It's just about universal. (From a Judeo-Christian perspective in fact, it is universal. That's what the Fall is all about.)
Politicians (or celebrities who engage in politics) aren't particularly worse than other people. If you think they suffer more from human pride or arrogance, check out your school's PTA. Politicians are just more visible.
But that's the point. And that gets to the heart of why conservatives are wary of giving politicians excessive power over our lives—and why the liberal project to continually increase the size and scope of the federal government is so dangerous. As Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers, "If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."
But as men are clearly not angels, Madison, Hamilton and the other framers were very careful not only to circumscribe the power of our leaders but to create a system of divided government that worked to undermine any one person or group's accumulation of power within the system.
That's why conservatives believe the current argument over Obamacare is about so much more than our system of healthcare.
It's about the health and indeed the survival of our system of limited government.
Amidst all the arcane constitutional arguments about the Commerce Clause, one thing is certain: This administration is claiming the power to do something never before granted to the government.
As Justice Kennedy said, the new law "changes the relationship of the government to the individual in a very fundamental way."
You might like the mandated services of Obamacare and think that the administration is on the side of the angels.
Let's say that was true.
Do you want to give the government huge and extensive new power over our personal lives that it has never had before? Do you believe that because in this case they got it right with healthcare they'll get it right with every single decision from here on out?
And what about the next administration that comes along—one to five years down the road? Will every politician elected to office from now on get it right?
Because if the Supreme Court OKs this unprecedented expansion of government power now, it will be too late to take it back later. Even if—OMG—a Republican is elected president in 2012. It could happen.
Oh, and when it comes to hypocrisy: The committee staffers who wrote the bill (which was too long for any of the senators and House members who voted for it to actually read) crafted the language in such a way as to exempt themselves from its rules and regulations.
These are the angels you want running your life?