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THE PEACEFUL WAR 2 Apr. 2017 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

THE PEACEFUL WAR

2 Apr. 2017

Dear Friends and Patriots,

          The war is on!
          Not that war in the streets, thing.  No, that one has been going on for a while and looks like it will for a long while yet.  That’s not the war we should all be most interested in today.  I’m talking about what appears to be the internecine war within the Republican Party.
          Before the election of Donald Trump we were all pretty much united in our belief that the political war in Washington was between Democrats and Republicans.  There was little need to split hairs much finer than that.  Even those who tended to mischaracterize that war as between liberals and conservatives tended to think along party lines.  After all, how many conservative Democrats can you name today?  They used to exist, you know.  But, they’ve all gone the way of the dodo, either long dead or long ago having the epiphany that to get re-elected they needed to rebrand as a Republican.  I used the term “mischaracterize” because it was never actually true.  The war generally thought of as between liberals and conservatives has always been far more complex than that simple attribution.  The war going on today is proof of it.
          On the Democratic Party side there are actual liberals.  As time goes by there are fewer and fewer of them.  They’ve been largely supplanted by progressives who pose as liberals.  Meanwhile the party has been almost totally purged of all its dodo conservatives.   There’s an appearance of unity of viewpoint on that side of the congressional aisle.  They tend to speak as one and act as one.  The Democratic Party as a whole is fully engaged in today’s political war.  In normal times, that wouldn’t be a problem, but these aren’t normal times.  This is today, and today things are mighty complex.
          The Republicans tended to appear as a cohesive force throughout the Obama presidency.  It was always a contrived appearance, never real at all.  But, it’s always handy for everyone to think of Republicans as monolithic in their presence.  The truth is they’re terribly fragmented, and the war that should concern us most today is the one raging within that one party.
          Evidence of the war was on full display when the vote for the American Health Care Act was pulled by Speaker Ryan.  That act had been worked up in a manner that almost guaranteed its failure.  The Speaker tried to strong arm the Freedom Caucus, when he wasn’t trying to ignore them.  But, everything in Congress is about votes.  Votes are about numbers.  The Speaker never had the numbers.  He knew it, but I suspect he believed he could browbeat the Freedom Caucus, or bluff enough of them into submission to where the act would pass.  It was a dumb political gamble, yet Ryan committed to it.   I’m pretty sure he regrets that.  Hopefully he’ll learn from it.  If not, there are dark days ahead; dark for all of us.
          If you listen to the wrong people you’ll understand the characterization of the failure of the American Health Care Act as an affirmation of Obamacare and the continuance of the status quo.  It’s easy to understand why the Democrats would take that position, even though only a fool or a die-hard progressive would buy into it.  There was no affirmation of anything in the inability of Speaker Ryan to get to a vote on his bill, other than one involving a concept Congress tends to revile.  There was an affirmation of principle.  That’s where the Freedom Caucus planted its flag.  That small group of principle-driven Congressmen took the high ground and didn’t abandon it.  In doing so they stopped a bad bill, a flawed compromise that didn’t give the people what they truly want and need.
          The Republican Party is supposed support principles of a smaller, more efficient, and limited government.  They’re supposed to be advocates for free enterprise, and open markets.  They’re supposed to be proponents for investing as much authority and freedom in the individual citizen as possible, and not in the federal bureaucracy.  Anything proposed by Speaker Ryan and his cabal that doesn’t adhere to those principles only serves the adversaries of freedom.  The biggest problem with the American Health Care Act was that it mainly restructured Obamacare, with promises for two follow-on steps that would result in a full repeal.  That’s not what the people who have been electing Republicans in ever-greater numbers want.  The mantra of the political right for the past seven years was one word only; REPEAL.  The “and replace” part came during the recent campaign.  Most people heard that, but it’s obvious the sentiment for “repeal only” is greater than that of the crowd who carries the banner that includes “replace.” The Freedom Caucus promised its followers they would hold the line and vote for a bill that gives a full repeal.  That’s not the deal Speaker Ryan was willing to offer.  Instead, he threw down the gauntlet on the Freedom Caucus and tried in every way he could to move them toward his chose path.  If there was a failure in Washington regarding health care reform, it was Paul Ryan’s personal failure.  He should have known from the get-go he would fail.   Was it his outsized ego that made him press on, or was it prodding from the Pre
sident? 
           
The people of the country have a decision to make.  Do we truly want to see a government run according to immutable principles or do we want to continue to do as we have since the very first session of Congress, during George Washington’s first administration?
          During the second seating of the 1st Congress two acts were passed that should be studied by everyone who wants to understand the dangers of compromise for the sake of assumed progress.  The first one, passed in February 1791 chartered the privately owned First Bank of the United States and defined its role in our nation’s financial affairs.  The bill was the brain-child of Alexander Hamilton, who may have been a genius in his own right, but had visions that often ran contrary to the furtherance of individual liberty.  The second act of interest was passed just one month later, the imfamous Whisky Act, which was so against the grain of the founding of the country it spurred an armed rebellion.  Both bills passed because Congress lacked sufficient men of principle to ensure their failure.  We are still living with the legacy of Hamilton’s quest for greater central power, and we still see laws remarkable in their kinship to the Whisky Act, though we no longer rebel at their passage.  Our national comprehension of the nature of freedom and liberty is so limited we regularly support legislative measures that place unreasonable and unnecessary constraints on our own being.  We do it because we’ve been conditioned to believe “the art of compromise” is a right and natural objective to making law.
          If there’s any single factor we can point to in our quest for understanding of how our nation came to the crossroads in history where we truly are, it’s the notion of compromise.  To many, compromise guarantees that each side of any argument gets at least part of what they want.  The idea is to always strive for 100% of your goals is unreasonable and unrealistic; that the actual goal should always be to strike an agreeable compromise.  There is a fatal flaw in that logic that has to be exposed.  In many debates on policy one side pushes an agenda that is contrary to the legitimate interests of the people of the nation.  Their agenda may have selfish motives, such as the personal enrichment of the people involved, or may have the effect of creating an additional and unnecessary constraint on freedom and liberty of citizens.  Whenever politicians compromise to get some part of a legitimate end but are ceding to selfish or detrimental agendas in the process, the entire exercise should be condemned.  Yet, it happens every day in our Congress.  What should be attacked is the very concept of compromise as a legitimately desired end to any debate.  But, to do that, our Congressmen need to learn how to have dialog based on principles and how to identify the occasions when principles appear to contradict.
          Today many arguments in Congress are justified by phony rights.  If you listen you’ll hear Congressmen pontificate on the right to a living wage, the right of guaranteed health care, the right to a post-secondary education, and on and on to include the many aspects of claimed rights according to the various justice movements.  Many times the same pontificators will speak out in denial of the right of a citizen to own a firearm.  When they are speaking about phony rights those Congressmen cite phony principles, just as when they speak out against gun ownership they always fail to represent the citizens’ natural right of self-defense.  To those people a ‘right’ is only as they perceive it, not according to any immutable principle.  In their arguments they literally dismiss principle as a legitimate basis for anything at all. They promote the notion of situational ethics as superior to static and staid principles.  The entire pseudo-philosophy of secular humanism is grounded in phony claims to non-existent rights and justified according to the hollow precepts of situational ethics.
          The war among Republicans in Congress today is at a very philosophic level.  The Freedom Caucus is attempting to press the “radical” notion that all actions by Congress should be based in founding principles.  The Freedom Caucus is very small, yet powerful because of the stance it takes.  It’s hard for any Congressman to speak out against principles.  They all understand that as long as the Freedom Caucus exists each of them is at risk.  If the Freedom Caucus manages to get a broader public reach and is able to enlarge on their fundamental message many in Congress are in jeopardy in the upcoming mid-term elections.  This is not a time for the timid!
          There are obvious questions all should ask.  What is my role in all this?  What can and should I do?  Where is my capital best spent?  Yes, we all should be asking those questions, and I hope you are.  For me, the answer is simple.  I have determined “compromise” is not something that pays good dividends.  In the historical sense, we’ve seen most of the freedoms Americans once enjoyed compromised away.  Compared to a citizen of 1791 we live extraordinarily constrained lives.  It was not meant by our founders to be so.  It’s our collective fault, and the fault of any of our ancestors who allowed themselves to be lulled by the siren song of compromise.
          You want to know what to do?  You already know.  Some of you are already doing it.  Our time, effort, and fortunes are best spent in supporting those who have dedicated themselves to supporting us.  Progressives don’t support freedom and liberty; progressives of either party.  Don’t ever be fooled because a person in Congress or a candidate for office has that (R) after their name.  An (R) guarantees nothing.  We all owe it to ourselves, our children and our grandchildren to ensure those who say they stand for the principles of our nation’s founding actually do.  We have to examine voting records and other substantiating evidence and make up our minds to campaign against those who only offer lip service instead of consistently demonstrating their adherence to principles.  We have to get involved in campaigns in support of candidates who can talk the talk and have records of walking the walk.  We have to speak out, to write, and to demonstrate in behalf of principled governance, not compromise.  Everyone must understand one simple fact – there are principles and there is compromise, but where there is compromise there exists no principle.
          This is the peaceful war.  It’s much more important than the war in the streets.  Demonstrators can’t propose or pass laws.  They can only beg for attention, disrupt, or destroy.  The warriors of the peaceful war are the ones who can affect the lives of all Americans, for good or ill.  Do the right thing.  Take a side in this war and make sure all your friends, your Congressman, and your Senators know exactly what your stance is.  That’s what principled people do.

In Liberty,
Steve