Maggie Thatcher was Right...

by Gord Gekko
web posted September 1996

Margaret Thatcher was always good for coming up with a line which cut straight to the heart of a matter. Once I remember hearing the grand old dame of conservative politics say that compromise is the antithesis of leadership. The line resonated with me back then and it still does.

I know someone who freely admits that he is a socialist. We often have debates about politics and philosophy, and once, after an extended debate about capitalism and society he said to me, "It must be nice to hold view points that can never be realized in real life. When you grow older you'll realize that your idealism was wrong and you'll get on with the rest of your life."

That kind of got me to thinking about the apparent dichotomy between theory and actual practice. You always hear people saying, "That might be fine in theory, but in practice it is unrealistic." I've never quite believed that concept and it wasn't until I was older and thought about it more that I figured out why people believe this.

The nose of the bulldog has been slanted backwards so
that he can breathe without letting go.

- Winston Churchill, 1914

The ideology of many religions and the left often contain the belief of the mind-body split. In religion it is effectively used to promote guilt. You do things that make you feel good but mentally you're supposed to know that it is wrong. The left uses this concept to destroy the ability of the mind. By proclaiming things to be unknowable, or problems unsolvable, they fool people into thinking that they can't do anything with their lives and the problems that they face. The only way to help yourself is to depend on them and their belief system.

It is in this atmosphere that they can then thrive in. If someone manages to convince you that you ideas are nice, but impractical, they can then suggest their alternatives. If you decide that you do not like their alternatives they will attack you as being an ideologue, extremist or out of touch with reality. Principles are a hard thing to hold on to while you are being attacked so you decide to compromise your principles, but only a little, to get something done...anything.

But what is it that gets done? Witness the political scene in North America today. In any intellectual battle between the left and the right (and I mean usually in the arena of politics) a compromise is worked out. In every instance, that compromise is unworkable, short-term, and ineffective. Both sides claim victory and life goes on for another day. Another principle bent out of shape to avoid sticking one's ground and fighting for what is right. After all, we don't want the electorate to become angry do we? We have to think about the next election, don't we?

The spirit of compromise infects every segment of our lives today. In every day life we often witness our principles clash with someone or something that does not share those principles. What do we do? All to often we cave in to save having to disagree and in the process believe we've some face when in fact we destroy a little of our soul.

Ayn Rand once said that in a compromise between food and poison, poison always wins. The same holds true in all aspects of our lives. When we compromise something that we truly believe in, something that is a core belief, we end up doing incredible damage to ourselves. In the art of compromise, the victory always goes to what we consider to be wrong.

And so it is with conservatism. Our philosophy, when correctly followed, is a rational philosophy which upholds the individual. When we fight, we fight for freedom for the individual, yet all to often conservatives yield to mass opinion when battling for their rights. We must, as a movement, understand that compromise, while the food of politics, only makes our goals all that much further away.

If Bob Dole is elected as President, conservatives will see a master pragmatist and compromiser in action. Dole's career is marked as a deficit-hawk, but at the cost of high taxes. Dole fought several times for tax increases and in effect helped preserve the entitlement state in return for meager attempts to fight the ballooning deficit. He is a prime example of what damage compromise does to a nation. What happens if Dole is elected and starts to act on his tax-cutting pledge? Do you really believe that he has the guts to act in the face of Democrat attacks? Do you really see a major tax cut from Dole?

And so compromise will probably win yet again, proving that leadership and compromise cannot be bed-fellows to any person of integrity. Margaret Thatcher lived it. Ronald Reagen knew it but ignored it sometimes. Will Canada's and America's conservatives learn the lesson anytime soon?




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