Perspectives: When compromise isn’t an option

OPINION – With just under two years to go until the next general election, we have a very short window before the political fog generator is deployed once more against the American public. Right now is when the citizenry is least susceptible to political groupthink.

During this brief moment of lucidity that precedes the upcoming national political pep rally, I’d like to reach out to the frustrated people who find themselves persuaded to put their support behind the lesser of two evils every election cycle.

The very fact that they feel frustration is a strong indicator that, at some level, they recognize that they’re being played by the two party system.

Over and over we are warned that if we don’t vote for a particular personality, “The bad guys will win and everything will just get worse.” It takes real honesty to admit that things have been getting worse for the past several generations regardless of who is in power.

Our freedom, autonomy, morality, and our prosperity have been under attack from many different directions for as long as most of us have been alive.

We currently see evidence of this in the form of asset forfeiture, militarization of our local police, domestic surveillance, wealth transfer policies, minimum wage laws, and increasingly violent regulation of our livelihoods. Abroad, we witness our government engaging in aggressive foreign policy, unjust wars and invasions, and the establishment of an imperial presence around the globe.

As has been the case with every tyrant in human history, the most destructive policies have been peddled to us under the guise of necessity. We’re told that they are implemented to protect us from some anticipated harm. In reality, they only serve to increase the power of the state over us.

Most of these policies have been passively accepted by an American public that has agreed to compromise their principles of personal freedom in return for the promise of protection. That compromise has brought us less freedom and more government control.

We’ve forgotten that the stated purpose of our government, in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution it gave rise to, was to keep us free – not ruthlessly micromanage our lives.

As omnipotent and irresistible as our government likes to portray itself, its control over us depends entirely upon our willingness to obey. This goes hand in hand with whether we can also be persuaded to compromise our personal principles.

Consider this in 2016 when the election cycle is in full circus mode and we’re being reminded that our personal attachment to principles must take a back seat to electing the “right” candidate. As we saw in 2012, even people of good character can be seduced by political superstition into abandoning principles for a perceived short-term political gain.

In this context, principles should be understood as a set of proven values that must be applied to our circumstances rather than simply compromised away. Moderate politicians are masters of compromising their principles rather than risking their popularity by actually upholding them.

The choice between principle and popularity has been a hallmark of politics throughout human history but only uncompromising principles have brought about the greatest advancements of humanity.

Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation points out some notable examples of the great ideals that have lifted mankind:

Was it moderation and compromise that brought us such grand and glorious principles as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, the right to keep and bear arms, habeas corpus, and due process of law? Was it moderation and compromise that brought mankind the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, and the Declaration of Independence?

It’s not surprising that so few Americans are conversant in the principles listed above. It’s not a matter of them being stupid or evil. Most have been schooled to think about history in a manner that favors and popularizes the current government system.

This is not by accident.

Since a vast majority of Americans learn what they know about history and their government while sitting in a government school, their textbooks are going to reflect whatever is most acceptable to the entity that is purchasing those books.

Anyone who has compared history textbooks from throughout the past few decades can attest that prevailing political attitudes inevitably creep into the official narrative of what is being taught. Even in higher education, with government funding on the line, popularity often takes clear precedence over principle.

If freedom is a priority to us, we must understand what is negotiable and what isn’t.

Deciding where to eat lunch is an appropriate place for compromise.

However, when our choices involve foundational principles, compromise should not be an option. This is also true outside of elections and politics.

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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22 Comments

  • Notagain December 1, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Bryan,
    You must have been eating logic food over the holiday. Good article.
    Be prepared for a on slot of ‘YEA BUTT’ reply’s from the poor disenfranchised who demand that they be taken care of first. Freedom can wait.

  • Big Guy December 1, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Is this essay a libertarian wolf in sheep’s clothing? Lawmaking in a democracy is compromise between various views, each of which stands on principle…just different principles, and each of which has relevance to the issue at hand. And successful politicians are those who can find ways to compromise allowing government to move ahead, even when no one is completely satisfied with the result. We’ve had two painful examples in the last five years of politicians standing firm on their principles without any thought of compromise and with disastrous results: Nancy Pelosi’s Obamacare and Ted Cruz’s government shutdown. (Yes, there will be those who regard one or the other as a success by some measure, but a majority of Americans dislike both.) As for individual freedom, any citizen living under any form of government by definition gives up some measure of personal freedom. Once again its a matter of degree and will be seen differently by different folks. Only an anarchy provides unlimited personal freedom…and unlimited risk of maltreatment by one’s neighbors.

    • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 1, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Obamacare ended up nothing but one big compromise. They basically let the insurance industry go in and pick and choose what to keep. Now what’s left is basically a watered down giveaway to the massive private insurance industry. Do ur research buddy…

      • Big Guy December 1, 2014 at 3:36 pm

        Democrats did not have to compromise with Republicans: they specifically asked for no Republican input and as a result, got no Republican votes, not one. Scheming with the private insurance industry was crony capitalism at its worst. Nancy Pelosi got everything she and Jonathan Gruber thought they could put over on the “stupid voters” (Gruber’s words) by obscuring their real intent. Pelosi: “We’ll have to pass it to see what’s in it.” By getting the AMA and insurance companies to buy in, Democrats could commandeer the entire health care industry, their real objective. Left-liberals will soon be complaining about “obscene” health insurance profits like you have above. That will set them up for phase 2: make the government the “single payer” for all heath care and close down the private insurance industry. The VA scandal will look like child’s play.

        As Sen. Schumer (D – NY) points out, the five million or so uninsured could have been covered much more economically without incurring what has turned out to be a political minefield for Democrats who should have been doing something useful instead. Back room scheming with your cronies is hardly political compromise. Do your homework.

        Republicans have been guilty of crony capitalism, too, but not on anywhere near this scale. The solution for crony capitalism: limited government involvement in the economy consistent with ensuring public safety and competitive markets.

        • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm

          “Republicans have been guilty of crony capitalism, too, but not on anywhere near this scale.”

          Are you joking or what? The whole 8 years of Bush II was nothing but crony capitalism at its very worst… Do some research… Foxnews doesn’t count…

          • Big Guy December 1, 2014 at 4:57 pm

            As always, PROTECT THE SHEEP makes sweeping generalizations with no specifics or facts. I do homework, he doesn’t.

          • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 1, 2014 at 6:26 pm

            I won’t ever bother with a reply to that bc now you sound like a whining 5 yr old…

        • koolaid December 1, 2014 at 8:59 pm

          You are correct with the GOP being guilty of cronyism. Utah is the example of truth to your statement

  • Karen December 1, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I’m not sure what “government” Mr. Hyde refers to regarding what is taught from textbooks here in the US. Mr. Hyde must have missed the numerous stories about the influence of the Texas School Board over the nation’s textbooks. Because Texas is such a huge buyer of textbooks, their school board controls much of the content and it is increasingly leaning to the far right. To me, it is actually quite terrifying, but should likely be heralded positively by Mr. Hyde. Sorry, Mr. Hyde, Big Brother isn’t the Obama administration but it is the Texas School Board. Now that is a scary thought.

    • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Hyde mostly refers to the “government” he’s made up for himself in his own little brain…

      • koolaid December 1, 2014 at 9:01 pm

        Hyde thinks Obama bad, who picks on his white trash bundy friends

    • Koolaid December 3, 2014 at 8:54 am

      What about control by the Washington County School Board. For example, didn’t the Washington County School board fire or replace someone not long ago without much transparency about the the actions of a public school board to the public?

  • GOP Tyrant December 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I can only think of one tyrant in recent US history, the tyrant who called for a war lasting 8 years that fueled the coffers of war contractors to the tune of $1 trillion while twice cutting care to the veterans fighting that war. The same tyrant then signed a joke economy recovery package called Emergency Economic Stabilization Act which only fattened the purses of bankers and CEO’s to the tune of $700 million. What was the name of the tyrant who enriched war contractors on the backs of soldiers and taxpayers and who further enriched bankers and CEO’s on the backs of minimum wage workers and taxpayers while kicking veterans, taxpayers and students to the curb? Who was that tyrant who spent half his term vacationing in Texas with his dog and drunken adult daughters (following daddy’s ways)?

    • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      Are you talkin about that darned Obama? Because Bush II was the best president we’ve ever had other than Reagan. And I’m still not convinced that Reagan wasn’t Jesus incarnate.

      • koolaid December 1, 2014 at 8:57 pm

        That’s Messiah Bush.

    • Visiting Anthropologist December 1, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      And plunged the economy into total chaos with the bank and mortgage fiascos at the same time. Talk about cronyism.

    • Visiting Anthropologist December 1, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      My reply was intended for this comment and not the one of Protect the Sheep.

  • villager December 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Gop tyrant.
    It’s not just him. It’s all of them.
    “America is just a business”…
    (Killing Them Softly)

  • McMurphy December 1, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    I generally agree with Hyde. We can identify the candidates whose opinions best represent our own and who we could vote for without seriously compromising our principles and we can support those candidates in every way possible. Fine — but on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2016 if we vote we will be limited to those on the ballot. We could write in someone else and if that makes you feel righteous then do it. On the ballot will be a D and a R and a C and a I. The sad fact is that one of them will be less bad than the others. And which party controls the White House and Congress does matter if only marginally. This is all theoretical in Utah anyway — the R will win.

  • Visiting Anthropologist December 1, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Good grief, the Reply system is totally out of control tonight.

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    If we could find a way to bring back to life President Reagan’s dried, rotten corpse I’d happily vote him in for 100 more terms…

  • The Rest Of The Story December 2, 2014 at 1:10 am

    If we had 25 parties, people would still be choosing the lesser of 25 evils.

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