Compromising Ourselves into Tyranny
By Tom Hurst, 8 July 2007
We hear it all the time: "It's a bipartisan bill!" And then the politicians, pundits and public all cheer as if it's a blessing. Yes, it's truly the political mantra of the decade, and it colors every bill that passes through congress these days - bills that in large part (unconstitutionally) determine how we live our lives. And passing such bills is really the important thing, right? How would things get done otherwise? Everyone gets something that they want, so all are happy. Citizens prosper and America marches forward. Or so they say...
"We need intellectual leaders who are prepared to resist the blandishments of power and influence and who are willing to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realization. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote." - F.A. Hayek
One interpretation, of course, is that progress is enabled by bipartisan cooperation. Another - the one I subscribe to - is that we're dealing with an evil, double-edged sword. Let's begin examining my hypothesis by admitting what "bipartisan" really means: it's compromise, plain and simple. Now, some may claim that it's only through compromise that things get done, and that may indeed be true to some degree. Ultimately, though, I would argue that the far more important observation concerns *what* things get done. Really, in a practical sense, continual compromise means that absolutely nothing that one wants truly gets done. Bipartisan bills, by definition always a hodgepodge of left and right interests, are in fact irrelevant in the sense that the very compromise they represent eliminates any chance of their decisively dealing with the issue at hand. The reality is that both sides will claim that their vision of America was distorted by "the other side", and both will blame one another when the bill's policy fails miserably. And the compromise, once supported with enthusiasm by both sides, then becomes the perfect excuse for failure. Ultimately, though, since politics is largely a propagandistic blame game where each player is at the same time always responsible for good and never responsible for evil, failed compromise becomes everyone's opportunity to claim qualified success for their cause. So, in politico-world, we find that somehow success equals failure, and vice versa. But the many who are apathetic and ignorant happily accept this lie, and life goes on. Considering the nature of compromise, is it any wonder that everything big government does fails?
"Compromise is usually a sign of weakness, or an admission of defeat. Strong men don't compromise, it is said, and principles should never be compromised." - Andrew Carnegie
So, what is the real end result of this cowardly obfuscation? Though you might think, despite the politics, that the bottom line is that both sides get something, my perspective is that at the very least both sides get *nothing*. At worst, which is usually the case, we must realize that the legislators that we elect to represent us are actually voting for things that we do *not* agree with or want, things that are harmful to us. It is here that compromise morphs into cooperation with the enemy - something called treason in earlier and more sensible days. Is that really why we elect them, to vote in support of ideas and policies that we find harmful and repulsive? I think not. If this were true, we would be admitting to almost always voting for the lesser of two evils instead of for good. But then again, I suppose that's what many people do, isn't it? Of course, such voters justify their treasonous act by claiming that there is no true good to vote for, so one must take what one can get. The truth is that in such cases the voters are showing as great a lack of integrity as the zero-integrity politicians they vote for. This act is truly shameful, and even treasonous. Personally, seeing where such rampant compromise is leading America, I would argue that it's clearly better to not vote at all. After all, in the end, one's integrity, honor and freedom are all that one really has. If one leaves it behind while voting, they are as responsible for the outcome as the politicos they enable.
"One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised." - Chinua Achebe
Even more fundamental, aside from acting contrary to our wishes, what does the act of perpetual compromise say of the integrity and values of our politicians? It tells me that these people are not only willing to disavow and denigrate their own beliefs, but are willing to vote to support the beliefs of others. They euphamistically call it cooperation. I would call it treasonous collusion with the enemy. And what of "earmarks", the very specific and very directed spending clauses - known euphemistically as pork - that are always added to distasteful bills just to get politicians who disagree with the bill to support it nevertheless. This money-for-cooperation trade strikes me as simple prostitution and shows great immorality. Just how much can someone believe in their principles if they are willing to discard them for money or in the name of supposed progress. Getting these weak-willed liars to vote for evil is obviously just a simple matter of agreeing on a price, so the reality is that "earmark" is just another word for bribe. Despite the fact that nearly every politician ever born operates in this fashion, these are definitely not people that I want representing me or my beliefs, for in the end their compromise means that they will not truly stand for anything that I consider important. Treasonous money-grubbers all, they are but hollow shells of the honest, courageous leaders that founded this nation.
"The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles." - Ayn Rand
To understand the evil at the heart of compromise, one must realize that while positions on some issues are indeed shades of gray, there are others that are obviously very much white and black, in this case right or wrong, or good versus evil. For instance, what makes a good film? Well, at least to some degree it's a matter of personal taste, so all such views would be shades of gray. But when it comes to, say, liberty, one either has it or one does not - someone is either a slave to others or they are free. There are no such compromises as being sort of a slave, or sort of a free man - anything less than total liberty is slavery, period. And property is either owned and controlled, or it isn't. When property is taxed, and when the owner's use of it is determined by zoning and other regulations, property is neither owned in perpetuity nor truly controlled by the owner. They must continually pay taxes to avoid seizure, and must ask for permission to do anything and everything. And on the ultimate question of whether something is Constitutional or not, again, it either is or isn't. Though most Supreme Court judges and politicians are fond of saying the Constitution means anything that they want it to mean, and that we should interpret it in light of modern times and attitudes, well that's total bunk, and the Founders would tell them so. Not only was it purposely written in plain English, but the exact intent of every phrase and every idea is well documented in the writings and debates of the time. So, these are the sorts of fundamental issues that have only rights and wrongs, and such issues should never, ever be compromised. Unfortunately, they are exactly the sort that our weak-willed, poll-worshiping politicians go out of their way to compromise on. And whether they do it for personal gain or because they think they know better than us how we should live our lives, they are morally corrupt and tyrannical. Truly, as they say, there are many opinions, but only one truth. We must uphold that truth without compromise, for the results of compromise are essentially the same as if one had totally lost the battle.
"From the beginning of our history the country has been afflicted with compromise. It is by compromise that human rights have been abandoned." - Charles Sumner
So, call it cooperation, bipartisanship, collusion, consultation, partnership or simply working together towards a solution, it is in the end all compromise. And the harsh reality is that through compromise, rights becomes privileges. A place where such moral evil is the modus operandi of government is not the America of our Constitution, nor is it the America where I want to live. Unfortunately, looking at the far too numerous laws and regulations that surround us, it's clear to me that our liberty has been compromised away by treasonous, weak-willed politicians and by voters who are bought and paid for with public funds dispensed by politicians currying favor. This sad state of affairs simply cannot continue, and free men of integrity are the key to ending it. Lest you think it's futile to steadfastly hold to one's beliefs - no matter if one is in a minority - and to show the integrity to unconditionally rebuff compromise, simply remember the founding of America. There, a small group of radical ideologues prevailed in spades because they had the integrity to stand by their beliefs and represented just causes: liberty, free markets and property rights. And that is what all free people and Patriots must do. To do otherwise is to compromise ourselves into tyranny.
"The contest is not between us and them, but between good and evil, and if those who would fight evil adopt the ways of evil, evil wins." - Thomas Jefferson
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[Other articles may be accessed via the Archive page.]