I watched the vice presidential debates.
I have to admit to my ignorance, I have no idea what is going on in a presidential or vice-presidential debate preparation. I assume they get prepared for the arguments and also the expected low blows, yet when a standard liberal cliché low-blow came from Biden, Ryan was not prepared to handle it. (look for it at around 30:00 minutes into the debate)
It could have been a wonderful opportunity to go into a counterattack, instead of an apologetic admission to the thinly veiled accusation of hypocrisy.
I have seen this particular cliché in action several times. I was subjected to it myself. I saw Ron Paul attacked with it even by republicans in primaries.
If the supporters of small government oppose a predictably pork filled policy or any kind of government spending for that matter but lose the policy debate and the program is implemented, they are not supposed to take advantage of the program least they will be accused of hypocrisy.
- The left says we have to spend money on ‘this’ (whatever that is)
- The right says no we should not, let the people who need ‘this’ spend their own money on it.
- The left gather more votes, the program gets implemented. The left allocates the money and start spending it, promoting it heavily amongst their OWN constituents to whom they have to demonstrate how well they are serving them.
- The right say, well, since we are spending everybody’s money, everybody should benefit, the programs should not forget about our constituents just because we opposed it.
- HYPOCRITES!!! – cries the left. The implication is that the right is not ‘consistent’ with its political ideology, not ‘moral’ and since they are participating, deep down they also understand the benefits of the government program that was originally championed by the left.
For the left, this is always a triple whammy:
- They are buying votes by providing benefits for (mostly) their own constituents
- They are increasing the size of government and its share of control over our lives (which is always the goal of the left)
- They can pounce their opposition about their ‘hypocrisy’ about something that ‘demonstrably’ benefits everybody.
It is amazing how many conservatives, republicans but mainly libertarians fall for this, actually feeling guilty and powerless to defend themselves.
There is NO CONTRADICTION in opposing a government program and taking advantage of it at the same time. An elected politician must have two considerations: the principles, the platform, the policies and the promises that got him elected and the actual serving of the interest of his constituents. Thinking that there is a contradiction and feeling guilty about it means that they are walking right into the trap set by the statists. It weakens their opposition to the wasteful ideas.
By accepting the benefits of a stupid program we are tricked into believing that we cannot oppose it because it wold be hypocrisy to do so.
There is danger in not being vocally opposed to these insinuations and sometimes open accusations. What ANY libertarian leaning elected politician needs to do is to be clear and outspoken about it. It is all right to say that “I am doing this against my better judgement”; it’s OK to say that “I am doing this under protest.” That “this is the nature of democracy, that sometimes we do things we disagree with because it is the will of the majority.” It’s OK to say that “I think this is a bad program and I am opposed to it, but since we have it in place, this is how you apply for the benefits.”
Paul Ryan should have used this opportunity to smack down Joe Biden with this argument instead of sheepishly admitting that yes, he did advocate the interest of his constituents in relation to a program he opposed. He could have said:
“Mr. Vice President, you do not seem to understand the nature of democracy and our political system. That even as I may keep fighting against a bad decision, a bad policy, a bad program trying to reverse it, when it comes to its implementation, I have to abide by the decision of the majority and learn to live with it.
You don’t seem to understand my role as a representative of my constituents either. It is my sworn duty to represent their interest. Once a program is implemented, whether I supported it or not, I must make sure that its benefits are distributed fairly and evenly. I know you wish you could keep it all for your supporters, campaign donors and constituents, but this is not the system we have.
I resent the insinuation of hypocrisy. Real hypocrisy is championing a harmful idea then giving waivers to your friends and supporters as your administration did with the Health care bill.”
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This attack-cliché exists in a personal level as well. I will discuss it separately.