Crocodile Tears: Politics in the Swamp

A wife is stricken with cancer, and the costs of her care quickly spiral out of control. In the aftermath, her family loses their home and are chased by a debt burden that crushes their hopes and dreams for decades. A man loses his job of 12 years and, desperate for work, he moves to another city with a plan to send money home. The money runs out, his family falls apart, and he finds himself living in the streets, forgotten and alone. A married couple driving home late one night are killed on impact when a drunk driver runs a red light, leaving their two young children at the mercy of a dysfunctional social services system. Whatever dreams their parents had for their futures is replaced with years of being cold and hungry.

These are all tales of misery and woe that are all too real for so many people, which is why politicians love using them to give their political agendas an emotional impetus with voters. After all, what kind of monster can push a grandmother off a cliff or, worse, support a political candidate who would? Creating the illusion of moral necessity for your argument is an extremely effective rhetorical tool, with only one glaring problem. In rhetorical philosophy, this sort of “appeal to emotion” is recognized as fallacious, for obvious reasons, because how someone feels about a problem has absolutely no bearing on the veracity of the presented solution.

As human beings, we are designed to experience deep and often complex emotional responses for the cancer stricken wife, the homeless man, or the orphaned children. Our personal empathy is fed by our own experiences of similar suffering that we have witnessed first hand, and our ability to experience these deep and emotional responses demonstrates that we’re not pitiless, unfeeling monsters, which is good, however the fact that we are able to feel this sympathy doesn’t cure the cancer, shelter the homeless, or bring the dead back to life. No matter how tugged our heart strings may be, a bad policy doesn’t become a good policy and a deficit doesn’t become a surplus.

In the bright, unflinching gray light of a cold winter’s day, government creates more problems than it solves and just simply costs too much even when it doesn’t.

Clubber Lang: “No, I don’t hate Balboa, but I pity the fool, and I will destroy any man that tries to take what I got.”
Interviewer: “What’s your prediction for the fight?”
Clubber Lang: “Prediction?”
Interviewer: “Yes, prediction.”
Clubber Lang: “…Pain.”
Rocky III

The GOP tax bill is a brutal piece of work, and the American people will understandably groan for some time about how it was shoved through Congress in as partisan a move as ObamaCare was some seven years ago. The lack of bipartisanship will only energize the Democratic base and give them a rallying cry in the 2018 election year to come, and, if the recent elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Alabama are any indication at all, the blood letting at the polls for the Republican Party is going to be Shakespearean come November.

Now, let’s be clear. The dismantling of the tyrannical “individual mandate” of ObamaCare is unquestionably a victory for liberty. Cutting the corporate tax rate for businesses in the United States from an unconscionable 35% to 21% is also a victory, however I remain a firm believer that the corporate tax rate should be even lower (15%), and I am not alone in thinking this. Unfortunately, the personal income tax code remains as Byzantine and fraught with Marxist maliciousness as ever, keeping seven tax classes of Americans, punishing those at the bottom, and stealing from those at the top.

The worst part of the GOP’s tax bill is it carries the stink of Donald Trump’s brand of political divisiveness, which ensures that, even after he signs it into law some time early next year, it will divide the country, rather than bring America together. The Republican leadership, in both the White House and Congress, demonstrate clearly that they do not understand nor do they care to understand the animosity that they have engendered in their political rivals. The left has spent eight long years accusing the right of being obstructionists unwilling to compromise on any issue, and by pushing through this tax plan without even a single Democratic vote, the GOP have confirmed it.

These criticisms of the GOP or their tax bill are not based on emotional appeals, nor on evoking vain sympathies for the sick, the homeless, or the orphaned, but on patiently and consistently applied ideological principles.

“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”
-George Washington

It is not easy being a conservative. If we really seek to uphold the legacy and the traditions that we claim to cherish, then we are obligated to hold ourselves to a higher standard: “Do the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons. Always.” Even if we assume that the GOP’s tax reform bill is even “the right thing“, and there are many legitimate concerns that it isn’t, at least not entirely, can conservatives comfortably say failing to seek consensus from our political rivals in Congress is “the right way“, or that getting even with the Democrats for eight years of Obama is “the right reasons“?

There is an immense difference between rhetorical arguments at the street level and political arguments at the governmental level. It is perfectly just to hold the common leftist their dishonest arguments and their toleration of open hypocrisy when their life styles do not reflect their rhetorical positions, but at some point, especially when two political factions must cooperate long enough to govern, the duly elected representatives on the right must at least make some effort to even pretend to respect the opinions of the duly elected representatives on the left.

Even taking into account the “conservative” things the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, it’s hard to wholeheartedly support it considering how it got passed. The right has sadly proven that they are as viciously divisive as the left, and if the 2018 mid-term elections go as poorly for the Republicans as current polling indicates, things could get very shaky for them. Mark these words. In the aftermath of such a failing, there can be no winners, not on the left, not on the right, and certainly not for liberty, and no amount of emotional appeals by either side is going to engender any sympathy from the other. If this very simple lesson is missed again, our Republic will be in very serious trouble.

There is a fine line between supporting the sound principles pursued by the GOP tax bill and rejecting the methods by which it has come to be, and on that fine line I’ll close. I earnestly affirm the anger and affront that well meaning leftists feel in the Era of Trump, and while I don’t necessarily reject the policy direction of the GOP, I wholly reject the callous methods by which they’ve enacted these policies. I humbly ask for those on the left to also reject such divisive tactics, in the name of preserving the Republic through the hopefully abridged era of Trump.

 


Liberty is For The Win!

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