There is no greater injustice than punishment of a man for doing something good, and no more loathsome cowardice than when those responsible for defending good sacrifice their cause to accommodate an uncompromising evil. But this type of betrayal is not uncommon for the Republican leadership, and it happened again last week in Congress.
Thursday's House committee hearings with BP CEO Tony Hayward consisted mostly of the empty political grandstanding one would expect from this type of proceedings, characterized by Mark Levin as Soviet-style show trials. There was an exception, however, when Representative Joe Barton spoke out against the Obama regime for extorting $20 billion from BP -- without due process -- to be distributed by an Obama appointee as compensation not only to Gulf residents harmed by the oil leak, but also to those left unemployed by Obama's moratorium by fiat on all offshore drilling operations. This was not to say that the Gulf residents shouldn't be compensated, but that the manner in which the funds were expropriated is reprehensible, and it is outrageous for the government to force a private corporation to finance a moratorium imposed by the president. "I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," Congressman Barton said. "I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown -- in this case, a $20 billion shakedown. ... I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is -- again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown."
Amen, Congressman Barton. It is horrifying to witness the constant statist attack on property rights and the rule of law while being essentially powerless to stop it. What a relief it was to hear someone who does have a modicum of power speak out against this assault on our nation.
Of course, the usual suspects on the left -- most notably Joe Biden -- leaped onto their soap boxes and screamed bloody murder in reaction to Congressman Barton's statements; they regurgitated worn-out clichés about Republicans being "in the pockets of Big Oil."
This sort of tantrum always erupts when someone takes a principled stand against the left. It was an opportunity for the Republican leadership's response to second Mr. Barton's concern for the enormously important principles involved, to advocate reimbursement via the constitutionally supported mechanism of due process for people who were harmed by the oil leak, and to firmly tell the Obama regime that they will not be receiving any apologies -- that it is they who owe apologies to the American people for the fraud, corruption, theft, and full-blown terror they have subjected us to since January 2009.
Instead, the House Republican leadership denounced the stand taken by Mr. Barton and demanded that he apologize. This type of spinelessness on the part of the Republicans has contributed significantly to the erosion of freedom in America over the past century. Ayn Rand observed that
[t]he uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other -- until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country's official ideology.
Without even a pretense of resistance, establishment Republicans fail to fight their statist opponents, ceding the moral high ground lest they have to name and defend the principles for which they ostensibly stand: individual sovereignty, freedom, property rights, and the objective rule of law. Thus, by a century of weakness and moral default, our great nation has transformed in ways that would have been unimaginable to the founders.
Though they cower before the left, these Republicans do, as we have seen in Congressman Barton's case, occasionally attack members of their own party -- or abandon them, as in the case of Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle. She has proposed that we phase out and eventually eliminate Social Security -- a decades-long statist establishment, long deemed untouchable. Incumbent Senator Harry Reid has attacked the idea, but this is an easily winnable argument for Angle in light of the fact that not only is Social Security antithetical to a free society, but it has proven itself to be insolvent and unsustainable. Ms. Angle should be commended for this refreshing, badly needed proposal; we need to cut government back in massive, fundamental ways, and eliminating Social Security would be a huge step in the right direction. But never allowing reason or morality to interfere with their policy of cowardice and capitulation, the Senate Republican leadership has, as Reid boasts on his campaign website, been "quick to distance [itself] from Angle's radical plan to abolish Social Security." For another recent example of Republican betrayal, one may recall Congressman Joe Wilson, who shouted "You lie!" to President Obama during his address to Congress last September. Yes, this was a breach of decorum, but so was that nasty letter to King George known as the Declaration of Independence. Obama was, in fact, lying at the time of Congressman Wilson's outburst, the American people were terrified as Obama fought to shove government-run health care down our collective throat, and Congressman Wilson gave us hope when he courageously offered his lone voice in our defense. However, the important issue inside the beltway seemed to be that Congressman Wilson was rude to Obama, irrespective of context. So he was formally reprimanded, with some Republicans voting in favor of the disciplinary measure.
With the exception of the fight against ObamaCare, the current Republican leadership have demonstrated that they are unwilling to stand up to the left. The solution to this is not a third party. Instead, the Republican establishment must be phased out and replaced with a new school of leaders who will proudly fight for freedom and capitalism with the same endurance and unapologetic fervor that the left has exhibited for collectivism and tyrannical big government.
The good news is that Joe Barton, Sharron Angle, and Joe Wilson are not alone. There are emerging leaders already in Congress, such as Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan, and Jim DeMint, as well as promising candidates like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. Governors like Chris Christie, Jan Brewer, and Bobby Jindal show great promise in the arena of executive leadership. Unprincipled establishment dinosaurs like John McCain and Lindsey Graham are on their way out and will soon be a thing of the past.
Broad political change happens gradually. First we have to stop President Obama by taking away his congressional majorities, even if it means voting for RINOs who sneak through the primaries. Then we must remain intellectually and politically active and win incremental victories on every front, keeping in mind that this is a marathon and not a sprint. The country can be saved if we remain committed a fight for the day when it will once again be morning in America.