Something strange happens when you base decisions off of principle. It’s called consistency. I say it’s strange, not because it’s weird, but because it’s rare. It’s rare because few people actually take the hard road of standing on principle no matter what.
Instead, they take the easy road, basing decisions off of emotions or what is convenient at the time. That easy road is a winding road, because emotions and what is convenient change often. This results in a person sometimes doing things that are completely opposite of what they may have done a short time ago. No consistency.
However, principles are like a compass, a guiding star. No matter what is going on, no matter the circumstances or the emotions involved, you will always know what to do because principles tell you what to do. You will always know what to do because true principles do not change.
Today the House was debating the American Healthcare Act, aka RyanCare, aka TrumpCare. Representatives alternately spoke for and against. The emotional arguments are largely on the side of the Democrats as the decry this “vile attempt” to “strip healthcare” from dying Americans.
Those in favor of passing the bill are arguing on the side of what is convenient at the moment. This bill provides Republicans a way out. A way to say that they “repealed ObamaCare” just like they promised while at the same time maintaining a system that is wholly outside the proper Constitutional role of government.
It’s convenient because, prior to Trump’s election, the House Republicans had voted multiple times for a full repeal of ObamaCare with no replacement, so they could say they’d done their duty. But now when they actually have a chance to fully repeal ObamaCare and replace it with nothing more than a free market, they shy away, because it’s no longer convenient.
So you have the supporters, voting “aye” because it’s the “advantageous” thing to do. You have those against the bill because it’s the emotional thing to do. Then you have a third block of people, who want no part of it at all. These people are operating based on principle. But what principle?
The guiding star principle here is that of limited government. This is something that many Republicans claim to believe in. It even makes an appearance in the GOP platform. However, in practice we find few actually put this belief into practice. They do not let the principle of limited government guide them.
If the principle of limited government was guiding the members of Congress, we would be seeing a very different debate going on right now. You see, the principle of limited government tells us that government is bound to the Constitution. The Constitution is a document of “don’ts”, telling the government what it can and cannot do.
This is not a radical belief. In fact, our very own Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
James Madison, Father of the Constitution, said “[T]he general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws: its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.”
Thomas Jefferson believed that this was the very foundation upon which the Constitution rested,
The Democrats arguments will tug at the heartstrings and be nearly impossible to defend against without sounding like a heartless thug. The arguments of the Republicans in favor of the bill will call for action, because now is the time. But the most refreshing thing to hear, would be a statesman arguing on the side of principle. Not what feels good, not what is convenient, but what is right.
We can always hope. We can always pray.