What is a statesman? It’s a rather subjective question. It depends on who you ask. I’ve seen lists. Some are compiled by historians, some are gathered from polls. Here are some names that seem to pop up over and over. Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, even Al Gore. What is the one thing that threads all of these names together? They were all deeply divisive and partisan.
The John McCain’s of the world today seem to think that statesmen are molded through compromise and bipartisanship. The fact is a true statesman stands for something, whether it’s popular at the time or not. A true statesman sticks to his or her guns. They are unwavering in their dedication to their cause. They are unapologetic for their stand. Whether you agree with them or not you always – and I mean always – know where they stand. There’s no shifting sand under their feet. There’s no hint of compromise on basic, bedrock principles. They stand for something and they stand firm.
Today’s politicians believe if they can just get invited to the next cocktail party held by a prominent member of the other party they’ll be regarded as a statesman. What they don’t realize is no one at the
party thinks better of them just because they’ve extended a hand across the aisle. Moving to the middle is behavior of someone who wants to be liked, not someone who wants to be right. There’s nothing in the middle of the road but road kill. No one respects a capitulator, least of all the one to whom he has capitulated.
The tea party movement is full of uncompromising people who long for a country that hasn’t forgotten its roots. They read the Constitution as almost a sacred text, an inspired agreement between our original states that lays out the boundaries of government. These boundaries were long ago breached by those who deemed the population too simple-minded to possibly take care of itself.
People like John McCain hold the tea party movement in contempt. He believes the “rancor,” a word McCain is so fond of using, is destructive to our nation. He believes that those who will not go along to get along are obstructionists who stand in the way of duly elected majorities. He fails to understand the role of the loyal opposition to constantly push back against things with which they disagree. Nor does he realize that the very reason he was invited to the White House to talk compromise with the president was because of the tea party, not in spite of it. Had people like Ted Cruz – a true statesman – not fought back against the establishment the rubber stamp RINO Republicans like McCain would’ve have stepped aside to allow the Democrat steamroller to do its thing.
John Boehner in the House is hardly any better. Sure, he has surprised some by his steadfast position in the sequester fight and later the budget fight but Boehner has been operating from a position of fear. He doesn’t consider himself part of the tea party movement. Any chance given to talk about it he refers to it as “them” and “they.” He simply found himself in a position where the more conservative factions of his caucus could possibly drum him out as speaker had he not listened to reason.
At the end of the day there is nothing noble in foisting more debt and socialized medicine on the American people nor is it any nobler to have put up a good fight only to cave in the end.