IS THE PERFECT REALLY THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD?

“The perfect is the enemy of the good,” wrote deist Voltaire in an 18th century poem. The idea, of course, is that the pursuit of perfection may sometimes prevent an action less perfect that still produces something good…or at least better than nothing. 

That argument has become a figurative phylactery in Washington many wear on their foreheads to expedite compromise they claim is noble. President Obama alluded to it in his most recent address to the nation on the debt ceiling:

“…Do you know what peo­ple are fed up with most of all? They’re fed up with a town where com­pro­mise has become a dirty word…”

I think he may be right.  The typical American of 2011 is the personification of compromise.  In an age of multiculturalism, diversity, and moral equivalence it is the person holding fast who garnishes disdain.  All things are tolerated but certainty.  Most of us would not pay a price, no matter how small for a principle.  We can’t comprehend historical accounts of people like Sir Thomas Moore who lost his life rather than take an oath.   Career…money….power….popularity…acceptance…those are the cherished goals of our culture.  Any one willing to sacrifice such things for honor, principle, morality or long-term objectives are hobbits needing to be sent back to Middle Earth. 

At least that’s how a Wall Street Journal Editorial characterized Republican conservatives trying to hold the line on spending and keep their word to the American people.  As Congress and the President flail about, seemingly unable, certainly unwilling to face the real truth about America’s coming financial debacle, a band of principled Representatives and Senators who see clearly what must be done, are coming under ridicule. 

Senator John McCain took to the Senate Chamber, echoing the WSJ metaphor, calling their resolve “crack pot political thinking.”  The same thinking “that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into G.O.P. nominees,” he taunted, referring to two losing Tea Party Senate candidates in 2010.  This, spoken arguably by the person besides President Obama most responsible for the tanking economy; the 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate, who by foolish, misguided political calculation, refused to fight.  Of course he is opposed to anyone who sees clearly for he is a confused advocate of “the good” and not the “perfect.”  McCain was the personification of the “good” rather than the “perfect.”

Amer­ica, after all,” President Obama continued,  “has always been a grand exper­i­ment in com­pro­mise.”  Really?  Wasn’t it Patrick Henry who said, “Give me liberty or give me death?”  Wasn’t it the framers who made an all-out declaration of freedom, pledging their lives and their fortunes? 

  “As a democ­racy made up of every race and reli­gion, where every belief and point of view is wel­comed, we have put to the test time and again the propo­si­tion at the heart of our found­ing: that out of many, we are one.”  President Obama is as confused as John McCain.  Living together peacefully is not the same as giving up deeply held beliefs in a grand compromise. 

We have engaged in fierce and pas­sion­ate debates about the issues of the day, but from slav­ery to war, from civil lib­er­ties to ques­tions of eco­nomic jus­tice, we have tried to live by  (compromise.)  Did hundreds of thousands of American soldiers give up their lives during the Civil War so there would be a compromise on slavery?  The “good” rather than the “perfect?” Did thousands more lay down their lives to fight Nazi Germany so that Neville Chamberlain could make his appeasement?  Did hundreds of black Americans walk thru dogs and hoses to gain a little bit of freedom? 

America was NOT built on compromise.  People from every race and creed came together around an immutable set of principles laid down by the Founding Fathers.  The Founders were adamant and passionate about what they believed.  So were ensuing generations.  It’s only our current generation, indulged, poorly educated, and indoctrinated by the Left that knows not what they believe.

“His­tory is scat­tered with the sto­ries of those who held fast to rigid ide­olo­gies and refused to lis­ten to those who dis­agreed.” Abraham Lincoln?  William Wilberforce?  Those great compromisers?  “But those are not the Amer­i­cans we remem­ber.” What great compromisers do we remember???  John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis?  Ronal Reagan at Reykjavik?   I can’t remember a single one. 

We remem­ber the Amer­i­cans who put coun­try above self, and set per­sonal griev­ances aside for the greater good.”  Is it a personal grievance to want to stop government from bankrupting the country? “We remem­ber the Amer­i­cans… who put aside pride and party to form a more per­fect union.”    Really?  If it is pride or party to try to prevent national bankruptcy, we need more of both.

No doubt trying to achieve perfection can be an impediment in many areas, but perfection is not synonymous with doing what is right.  Perfection is about us; difficult choices are always about others.

Hats off to the Congressional Hobbits!  And when they retreat to Middle Earth, let’s hope they take America with them!

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5 Responses to IS THE PERFECT REALLY THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD?

  1. Kimberly Lee says:

    Is giving in to compromise and selling out on our core values similar to bowing down to
    the God of Tolerance??? If we stand for nothing, will we surrender to anything???? This is an insidious attack on the premise that absolute truth exists. Has Truth become
    an endangered species in America??

  2. Shelly says:

    I caught your interview on Fox about Birth Control.
    1. Taxpayers are already paying for birth control. Medicaid already covers it.
    2. Private insurers would be affected by this
    3. Birth Control is not only prescribed to prevent pregnancy, it can be used to help with other problems like prolonged periods or painful menses.
    4. Not every person taking birth control has multiple sex partners. Some are young adults, a lot are even married trying to plan for pregnancy.
    5. You said you don’t want your tax dollars paying for this. So, it is money you care about. You aren’t saying that birth control is bad. Just you don’t want your money paying for it.
    I don’t want my money paying for public schools saying prayer or teaching creationism.
    So, we don’t always get what we want. I suggest a little tolerance on your part.
    Abstinence doesn’t work. Just ask Bristol Palin.

    • Larry Uloth says:

      Hi Shelley…perhaps it has taken me 70 yrs to realize that compromize is not often anything but giving up. Ask any mom or dad. Two things come to mind…The Constitution does not give congress the right to take from me and give to you, and that includes money for your birth control (your personal decision)… please keep in mind that compromise is the reason we kill so many thousands of children each year in abortions.

  3. Rachel says:

    In regards to this comment/diatribe by you:” “Is the White House out of their mind? Does the West Wing not know what the left wing is doing? We’re $14 trillion in debt and now we’re cover going to cover birth control, breast pumps, counseling for abuse? Are we going to do pedicures and manicures as well? … Why in the world would you encourage your daughters, and your granddaughters, and whoever else comes behind you to have unrestricted, unlimited sex anytime, anywhere and that, somehow if you prevent pregnancy, that somehow you’ve helped them. I would submit to you that uncontrolled sexual behavior is what is harming our girls, not our lack of birth control — which by the way they don’t seem interested in taking anyway. Having a baby is not the worst thing. I think having multiple sex partners without any kind of restraint or responsibility is much more damning, why would you support that?”

    You are a moron. To suggest that all women who take birth control are out having sex without restraint, with multiple partners is ignorant, extremely judgmental, unfair, inaccurate, and irresponsible. Have you ever thought that taking birth control is a responsible decision made by mature people who are CHOOSING to not get pregnant and not burden our system with unwanted children. I can afford to pay for birth control, I cannot afford to pay for a child, and I KNOW THAT. I am sexually active in a committed relationship and always have been and there are millions of me in this country. It’s not fair that birth control, which is prescribed by a doctor just like any other prescription, is not covered like most other prescriptions are. Who are you to tell people that “having a child is not the worst thing”??? Who are YOU to make that decision for everyone? Are you going to pay for all of the children who come about from women not having access to birth control? NO. The country pays for that. As a tax payer, I’d much rather pay for birth control for responsible individuals rather than pay for a lifetime of a child born to a woman who cannot afford to pay for its food, healthcare, etc. Birth control does not equal unrestrained sex with multiple partners and you are a moron for suggesting it does.

  4. Leia Peison says:

    Your comments regarding domestic violence is abhorrent. Seriously equating domestic violence prevention with manicures? How childish and uneducated of an opinion to espouse. Please educate yourself regarding the dynamis of violence against women. We do not need more ignorance from the public about these important issues.

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