Sowell: If conservatives wait for perfection, they’re doomed

Posted by: ST on July 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Words of wisdom from my favorite conservative (hat tip to my co-blogger):

Now that the Republicans seem to have gotten the Democrats off their higher taxes kick, the question is whether a minority of the House Republicans will refuse to pass the Boehner legislation that could lead to a deal that will spare the country a major economic disruption and spare the Republicans from losing the 2012 elections by being blamed – rightly or wrongly – for the disruptions.

Is the Boehner legislation the best legislation possible? Of course not! You don’t get your heart’s desire when you control only one house of Congress and face a presidential veto.

The most basic fact of life is that we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available. It is not idealism to ignore the limits of one’s power. Nor is it selling out one’s principles to recognize those limits at a given time and place, and get the best deal possible under those conditions.

That still leaves the option of working toward getting a better deal later, when the odds are more in your favor.

There would not be a United States of America today if George Washington’s army had not retreated and retreated and retreated, in the face of an overwhelmingly more powerful British military force bent on annihilating Washington’s troops.

Later, when the conditions were right for attack, General Washington attacked. But he would have had nothing to attack with if he had wasted his troops in battles that would have wiped them out.

Similar principles apply in politics. As Edmund Burke said more than two centuries ago: “Preserving my principles unshaken, I reserve my activity for rational endeavors.”

What does “rational” mean? At its most basic, it means an ability to make a ratio, as with “rational numbers” in mathematics. More broadly, it means an ability to weigh one thing against another.

There are a lot of things to weigh against each other, not only as regards the economy, but also what the consequences to this nation would be to have Barack Obama get re-elected and go further down the dangerous path he has put us on, at home and abroad. Is it worth that risk to make a futile symbolic vote in Congress?

Make sure to read the whole thing.

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5 Responses to “Sowell: If conservatives wait for perfection, they’re doomed”


  1. Carlos says:

    “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for reelection.” ~ Warren Buffett 7/8/11

    Thomas Sowell is my hero, and I would vote for him for president any day of the week.

    One thing to keep in mind about every plan put forward so far: None has proposed cuts to existing spending, not one. Every plan proposed so far cuts only the proposed increases in spending on down the road. That tells me that there’s so far not one serious proposal to cut real spending, “real” being what we are spending NOW, spending that has dug our debt hole nearly to the core of the earth.

    In other words, every “serious” proposal so far has been a pack of lies, dressed up in pretty lipstick, still plunging us into third-world status at the fastest rate the ideologues and “leaders” in DC and Wall Street can push us.

  2. John Scotus says:

    He has hit the freaking nail right on the head. The goal should be to get the best deal possible to avert the current crisis, and then ride Obama and the Democratic leadership out of Washington, DC on a rail in 2012. No deal or a Democrat deal, and Obama has won.

  3. bill glass says:

    Maybe, Mr.Sowell, but, I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.

  4. Mike Giles says:

    We’ve been hearing the same crap about the “perfect being the enemy of the possible for decades now”, and what exactly has “compromise” accomplished? What is so damn difficult about understanding “BROKE”. The House votes the ALL spending bills, what is so difficult about saying no more. The truth is that we have a bunch of yellow dogs in the GOP who are far more interested in the perks of office and being deferred to, than they are with doing their jobs. Their worthless damn egos want so desperately to have that “Rep” or “Honorable” attached to their names, that they are paralyzed by the thought of doing anything that might jeopardize that position. The problem with our government is that instead of civic minded citizens, willing to set aside their lives to serve their country; we have a bunch of losers who often have accomplished absolutely nothing in their entire lives, besides running for various offices. The GOP House passed their bill weeks ago (Cut, Cap and Balance). It’s now up to the SENATE to do something – anything. Since they haven’t submitted a damn thing and Obozo’s budget was voted down 97 to zip, why is it up to the GOP House to figure out something? The idea that it’s the House’s problem is a figment of a hostile media’s imagination.

  5. omapian says:

    “The most basic fact of life is that we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available.”

    The kids are off to college. You pay for tuition, fees, room, board, etc. and throw in some spending money. Their grades are failing and they are having a great time, but they have maxed out their credit cards.

    They ask you to cosign another credit card and increase their monthly allowence. When you refuse they come back with a compromise. Either cosign the credit or increase the allowence.

    Somehow, when the ‘available choices’ are so unacceptable it might be time for ‘tough love’ and go back to work for a new alternative.

    The problem is overspending and any plan that doesn’t address the runaway spending in the current baseline budgeting will just continue to run up the debt.