Ah, the howls for compromise and consensus! Let’s look at the true nature of compromise and consensus.
If two people disagree on a point that affects them both, such as a point of law or political principle, they have but four choices. First, they can sit down and each lay his ideas before the other, discuss their differences, and settle on the best course. It is entirely possible that one plan will be adopted in its entirety, but if they decide that one plan is best on this point, and other best on that point, they will each freely agree that they’ve found the best path. Their decision will be based on the merits of their ideas. This is NOT compromise!
Second, they can agree to disagree and go their separate ways. This works quite well as long as there is room for them to actually take separate courses. In the case of the laws and principles that will govern the nation we share, it simply will not work, short of secession, of course. (In fact, the South tried to “go its separate way” in 1861. The North’s refusal to allow this resulted in the deaths of over 720,000 Americans, and proved that no part of this nation can do anything that a larger and more heavily armed part forbids.)
Third, one party can simply surrender to the other, leaving one in charge and one in subjugation. This is not compromise.
Fourth, they can fight it out, survivor take all. This is not compromise, either.
Compromise is a variation on the third choice, in which one party surrenders to the other, but with conditions and limits. It is NOT the rational, mature process of finding the best way! It is the process whereby one man agrees to drink what he believes to be poison, but only in small amounts, or only on Tuesdays. This leads us directly into one of the greatest lies being told in America today: that being an ideologue is bad.
An ideologue is a person who lives by ideas. Individual liberty is an idea; so is fascism. The human race lives or dies by its ideas. Using natural gas or electricity to heat our homes to keep us from freezing to death started as an idea. Canning and refrigerating food to stave off starvation in lean times started as an idea. The theory that murder is bad is an idea, as is the theory that it’s okay. The human mind functions to create ideas based on observation of the world around us. These observations and the ideas that spring from them are not guaranteed to be correct, and if they aren’t, Nature has a way of grading the exam. Ideas that do not agree with Nature are called mistakes. There is no such thing as a good idea that won’t work. If it doesn’t work, it isn’t a good idea; it’s a mistake.
If we demand that humans direct their lives by some means other than ideas, we do two things: we deny their nature as human beings, and we force them go through life as organic mine detectors, learning about the world around them by stepping on mines. It reduces modern Man, with all of his technology and the collective wisdom of the ages, to the state of our first primordial ancestor. He had to learn by stubbing his toe because there was no one before him to teach him. As he learned he transmitted that knowledge to his children by… what? By ideas. It’s how the human mind works. To be human is to live by ideas.
Does this mean we are closed-minded, bigoted, or inflexible? Of course not! The human mind is capable of evaluating the results of specific ideas, and, if they aren’t the desired results, it is capable of editing or even discarding ideas that didn’t work. In fact, the premise that once formed, an idea can never be challenged is at the heart of the anti-ideological movement. It is beyond absurd. If people could not challenge or change the ideas by which they live, rational discussion would, indeed, be impossible, and we’d be back to choosing to surrender or fight to the death.
If a freely-functioning mind is wealth, ideas are the currency, or money that represents that wealth. Ideas are the currency that free men trade. Some are worth more than others, but all have some value, if only to illustrate error. If we are to sit down with our neighbors and find the best way through this mess, it can ONLY happen through the development, use and exchange of ideas.
Returning to the nature of compromise, we see that if people discuss and consider ideas, they can find the best of all possible choices. If elements of one idea are to be changed out for elements of another, it can only be done based on the relative merits of both. Compromise rejects this process. Compromise says that we have a moral obligation to take something from everyone’s idea. Everyone has an equal right to have their ideas represented without debate or evaluation. It is not moral to believe that any individual can possibly have a plan that is best in all respects. Note that the issue is not whether it’s possible but whether it’s moral. We are thus faced with the preposterous situation of saying that being right is of no value, and being consistent is evil. The only moral plan is one that has elements of everyone’s plan, cut and pasted without regard to merit or even sanity.
Compromise is the war cry of the wicked and the incompetent. After all, if they had the best plan and the right answer, why wouldn’t they stick to it? Why would they willingly give up on what they know to be right? Why wouldn’t they argue for their plan?
I’ll tell you why. They won’t do that because they know they are wrong, and if their plan were ice water, they couldn’t sell it in Hell. The person with the right answer has nothing to gain from compromise. The person with the wrong answer has everything to gain. Evil cries for compromise, knowing that every time virtue yields, the result becomes cumulatively less virtuous and more evil. Virtue resists compromise because it has the truth, and has no need to alloy it with falsehood.
This is absolutely the source of the plea for compromise from Barack Obama. He knows he’s wrong, and that his plan won’t sell. The “moral imperative” of compromise is nothing more or less than the process of progressively diluting right with wrong, and ultimately blaming right for the failure that will inescapably follow. And he damned well knows it.
9 November, 2012