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Governing Requires Principles   July 11th, 2011
Getting something done is not an excuse for getting the wrong thing done       

 
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When a political party has control of a single chamber in a legislative body, they're often presented with bad legislation. Often times, it's legislation that--were they not in control--they would not only vote against but would publicly oppose at the top of their lungs. But since they control the chamber, constituents are told that they have to understand their unprincipled support for bad legislation because "they have a responsibility to govern."

Nonsense.

Anyone that believes that "governing" means passing bad legislation that goes against our core principles is someone who's been in the political ruling class too long and lost sight of why we sent them there to represent us in the first place.

A 'responsibility to govern' does not mean passing bad legislation, nor is it an excuse for doing so. To the contrary, passing bad legislation that can be stopped is evidence that those in question aren't governing. They're playing political games at the (literal) expense of those who elected them.

And while I recognize that controlling a single chamber isn't usually sufficient to advance ambitious ideas, I don't accept the premise that elected officials only stand on principle when they're in complete control of the legislative and executive branches, or when it's convenient.

As they say, principles only matter when they are inconvenient. If leaders don't stand up for principles when doing so is inconvenient, those leaders are unprincipled.

I'm not naive. I understand how politics works. I know political and economic support is necessary in order to win elections, and that some compromises are necessary to accomplish other more important items. But there are certain things on which one shouldn't compromise. And the only explanation for compromising on matters of core principle is that the quest for power has become more important than the principles that the power is supposed to advance.

That so many politicians have, for so long, compromised on core principles while we repeatedly play the game of running "safe" politicians that represent the paths of least resistance is in large measure why our nation is in the precarious position it finds itself. Compromising on core principles in the name of political expedience, political calculations and triangulation, or personal gain is what has nearly destroyed our country.

Such compromises might serve the interests of the politician, but they're detrimental to the country, the citizens, their constituents and the activists they purport to represent. And it may come as a surprise, but politicians are useless to the citizens when they engage in behavior that is inconsistent with our principles.

George Washington said, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

When those that lead do so without principles, government is like an out-of-control wildfire that burns county after county, state after state, until all that we'll have left in this country is the smoldering remains of liberty.


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