Envy is defined by Dictionary.com as "a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc." That perfectly characterizes the entire political philosophy of the Democratic progressive left.
Listening to presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, I often hear the principles I grew up with and practiced being disregarded, even denounced.
In his victory speech following his New Hampshire primary win, Mr. Sanders said America was founded on the principle of fairness.
No it wasn't. You don't find the word "fairness" in the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution. The word you do find is "liberty." The Founders wanted Americans to be liberated from oppressive, intrusive, dictatorial government and to be free to pursue happiness, according to their definition of the word.
Mr. Sanders and Ms. Clinton aren't channeling the Founders, they're channeling Robin Hood. They want to take from people who have sacrificed, invested, risked and worked hard and give the fruits of their labors to others who have not embraced those noble practices.
Listening to some of the younger people who are enthralled by Mr. Sanders' philosophy suggests that they have been brainwashed by their public school teachers and college professors. Maybe we should increase the voting age to 30 when they might be expected to have achieved some modicum of success and will resent having their paychecks gutted by dysfunctional government.
The late football coach Vince Lombardi once said, "The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand."
Do you hear anything like that coming from the mouths of Mr. Sanders or Ms. Clinton? Where is the rhetoric I heard as a child such as "you can do this," "apply yourself," "persistence ensures success"?
Today, it is all about envying what others have. In biblical terms it is covetousness, a violation of the Tenth Commandment. Covetousness is destructive, not to the person who is its object, but to the person doing the coveting.
Does someone who envies, or covets, improve his station in life? Why won't Mr. Sanders and Ms. Clinton speak of the virtues of hard work and making the right decisions so people can fend for themselves and their families? Instead we get speeches attacking millionaires and billionaires, as if they have cornered the market on wealth, leaving none behind for anyone else.
What a CEO or Wall Street banker earns has nothing to do with what I make, or could make, if I choose the right path. The right path means staying in school, getting married before having children and taking reasonable risks to improve one's life, such as moving from a town where it is difficult to get a job or advance in one, to a place where there are better prospects.
Bernie Sanders is now trying to attract African-American voters by promising them more jobs, more government programs, more stuff. He's also courting civil rights power broker Rev. Al Sharpton in hopes that he can help steer minority voters his way in exchange for access to the White House, but consider this quote from one of the great African-American leaders of the past, Booker T. Washington: "Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work."
That such noble sentiments have largely disappeared from our culture and been replaced by envy, greed and entitlement, explains why our national debt soars, why so many find themselves in financial difficulty, or think they do, because that's what the left has told them.
If our forebears could rise from their graves, would they not rebuke us for the mess we have made of the nation they birthed and bequeathed to us?
At the founding of America, self-interest was often secondary to the public good. Today, self-interest is supreme and the public good is largely forgotten. No wonder we are in trouble on all levels, as liberal-progressives double down on failure to promote their own political self-interest.
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.