In a speech last week to the United Methodist Women Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, Hillary Clinton cited “the great obligation of social gospel” as her guide. She quoted the following words attributed to John Wesley, which she absorbed as a young Methodist:
Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.
Applied to one’s personal life, this is an exemplary philosophy. But according to Dan Balz of the Washington Post, a person close to Clinton says that these words sum up Clinton’s philosophy of public service.
Applied to a political life, the words are chilling in their statist and, indeed, totalitarian implications. They are a recipe for government overreach (“in all the places you can. . .to all the people you can”) and the raw exercise of unauthorized power (“by all the means you can”).
Can we take solace from the fact that there’s no reason to think Clinton really believes in the imperative of “the good”? Not really.
Past authoritarians who cited it as a pretext for ordering the public about and punishing those who don’t fall into line didn’t believe in the imperative of “the good” either. They just believed in power and their own infallibility. That, I fear, is Hillary Clinton’s gospel too.