Compromising Our Liberty

A letter which was recently signed by a number of Tennessee conservative groups is causing quite a stir, especially in the left-wing blogosphere. The letter urges Tennessee’s incumbent Republican senator, the proudly moderate Lamar Alexander, to forego the rigors of another campaign and retire with dignity, or, as the media puts it, face a challenge from “the Right.”

The portion of the letter which has received the most attention reads: “During your tenure in the Senate we have no doubt that you voted in a way which you felt was appropriate. Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous. America faces serious challenges and needs policymakers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who are actively undermining those values.”

I was the one who suggested this particular passage in the letter.

I never dreamed, however, that the Left would latch onto it with such frenzy. In hindsight, however, this reaction makes perfect sense as compromise is the primary implement in the Left’s toolbox.

Nor did I think that it would be used by Establishment political commentators as an example of the naiveté of those of us who stand on principle. According to them, when it comes to government, you must leave your principles at the door. Governing is for grown-ups; political philosophy is for children.

My, oh, my, aren’t the grown-ups doing such a marvelous job?!

By the way, while the rest of us see politics as Left versus Right, the Establishment sees it as Them (the rightful rulers) versus Us (the unwashed, ignorant masses). See this editorial in the New York Times for evidence of that attitude.

America is lurching from one crisis to the next. Once great cities are going bankrupt. The current economic “recovery” is a tragic parody. Debt keeps piling up. Young people graduate from college with no job prospects, but the albatross of student loan debt around their necks. A record number of people are on food stamps. The underclass is often sentenced to a lifetime of poverty, yet the financial elites keep getting richer. The US–the Land of the Free–has the highest incarceration rate in the world. And it seems that nearly every week a new scandal unfolds in Washington, DC.

Is all of this normal, as the Establishment would have us believe? If not, how did it happen?

I believe that it has happened because too many folks lack guiding principles when it comes to government. As the saying goes, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Instead of contemplating political philosophy, we celebrate personality. Instead of admiring integrity, i.e., being true to one’s philosophy, we worship power.

This pragmatic approach to politics means that our only concern is if the trains run on time. We don’t usually think about where the trains are headed.

Our fear that the trains will stop and everything will fall apart has played right into the political class’s hands.

The Left’s strategy of incrementalism and its use of the Hegelian Dialectic has been very effective. The process is simply. The Left stakes out an extreme position. Anyone who disagrees with them is demonized as an “extremist” or an “obstructionist.” Fearing that the train schedule will be disrupted, moderates compromise on their previous position and move to the Left. This new position is the starting point for when the whole process starts again.

Thus, with a few notable exceptions, our vaunted two-party political system is not an oppositional one. It consist of one party which seeks to grow the government at an extreme rate. The other party is simply comfortable growing the government at a slower rate.

Those of us who want to shrink the government are labelled as “out of the mainstream” and relegated to the “fringes” of the political debate.

Isn’t it ironic that in every other facet of our lives except politics, the term “no compromise” means of “the highest quality?”

Despite what the political class would have us believe, compromise is not a virtue. When it comes to our interpersonal relationships, we would never accept a little theft or a small beating. Why is it that we don’t hold the state to this same moral standard? I guess a little bit of deadly poison is okay in some cases.

When it comes to your freedom, compromise does not benefit you. It only benefits the politicians. As Harry Browne once said, ‘whenever politicians talk about “compromise” it always means compromising away our liberties and property.’