Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why the Left wins: too much Salter in our diet

There can be no compromise between a property owner and a burglar; offering the burglar a single teaspoon of one’s silverware would not be a compromise, but a total surrender—the recognition of his right to one’s property.--Ayn Rand, Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal, 1966

Contrary to the fanatical belief of its advocates, compromise [on basic principles] does not satisfy, but dissatisfies everybody; it does not lead to general fulfillment, but to general frustration; those who try to be all things to all men, end up by not being anything to anyone. And more: the partial victory of an unjust claim, encourages the claimant to try further; the partial defeat of a just claim, discourages and paralyzes the victim.--Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, 1964
I'm not usually given to quoting Ayn Rand, not because I find her objectionable (I don't) but because the mere mention of her name tends to summon hoards of literary jackals, eager to justify their own flimsy egos by expressing their extreme distaste for Rand as both a writer and a person. Not unsurprisingly, they rarely have any actual specific objections in this regard; it's mostly just an exercise in unsupported allegations, misrepresentations, and ad hominem attacks. But I quote her here because she so aptly discussed--on multiple occasions--the essential reason why the Left--modern liberals and progressives--are successful over time: compromise.

"The government should feed and house the poor," say the leftists, the socialists, the idealists. "It doesn't have the resources to do that, without taking the property of other citizens," say the conservatives, the libertarians, the pragmatists. "Let's compromise," say those of the former sort. "Well okay, but not too much," say some of those (enough) of the latter sort. And with that, the war is substantially over. For such spending becomes the new normal. The same conversation is had, again and again and again. And one compromise follows another. Eventually, the spending is even beyond what was initially asked for.

One need only take a look at the history of Welfare. Or of Social Security. Or of the various federal bureaucracies that exercise regulatory authority over aspects of daily life. The spending always goes up. The extent of the programs always increase. The range of authority always grows. And why? Compromise.

Before the nation now is the implementation of yet another such program: Obamacare. This particular behemoth has already grown substantially, even before its actual implementation, as estimates for its cost to taxpayers keep increasing. But in Congress--mostly in the House--there is a last-ditch effort to stop that implementation, to essentially save us from our own stupidity. And that effort is being roundly criticized as pointless, as doomed to failure, and therefore a waste of time, resources, and political capital.

I can understand why those on the Left, Democrats and the more honest partisan pundits, would make these arguments: they want the effort to fail miserably, to prove costly to Republicans in general and Tea Party Republicans in particular. But what about that portion of the Right offering this same kind of analysis? What's their goal. Look at this piece by McCain's former chief of staff, Mark Salter. Cleverly entitled "What Tea Party Voters Don't Understand," the piece is a tour de force on why the Federal Government continues to grow, on why efforts to achieve any kind of fiscal sanity are doomed to failure, on why the Right almost always loses and the Left almost always wins. From it:
Tea Party voters are a pretty self-assured lot. They're 100 percent certain that if they stand by conservative principles (as they define them), scorning any compromises, a minority can rule the world.

They're also pretty good at discerning apostates. They're the keepers of the one true conservative faith. Anyone who deviates a hair from their prescribed policies -- or even expresses qualms about their political tactics -- is a traitor and a squish, which covers all but a few Republicans in Washington.
Great, Mark. Crap all over those voters. Your bitterness from McCain's failed election is palatable.

Salter goes on to admit that Obamacare is a "lousy law" but then offers this rather moronic defense against opposing it: "it is the law" (of the land). A bad law is still a bad law, or a lousy one to use Salter's terminology. It should be opposed as a matter of course by any Congress members who see it as such. To not do so is to surrender one's integrity at the door. To not do so is to perpetuate the overriding problem in our government: no sense of fiscal responsibility and no recognition of the principles of limited government.

Salter concludes:
And don’t worry about Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin and the handful of your fellow elected officials who tell you only what you want to hear. They’ll be fine. Your intransigence is good for their business. But you might discover, as you see how seriously your tactics have set back your progress, that it’s they, and not the Republican establishment, who’ve been playing you for suckers all along.
Yeah, okay Mark. What the f*** are you talking about? What "progress"? 2010 has come and gone. People like you, Mark, stopped the advance of common sense. Why? Because you feared for your own piece of the pie, for your own hold on power. You justify your capitulation by supposing you're winning small victories here and there, even as every large battle is lost in toto. The Republican "establishment" that you speak of is concerned only with themselves, with the good of the party as a party, not with the ideals the party is supposed to represent.

I realize the effort here is doomed to fail, but that's because such events are rare things from the Right, but common things from the Left. There's nothing wrong with standing on principle. Ever. And if the Left has taught us anything, it's that there's nothing wrong with asking for the Moon, because if you keep at it, eventually you get the Moon and the stars.

Cheers, all.

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