Something that has bothered me over the last several years and what only seems to be getting worse is the coalition that makes up the GOP can't seem to put their pet issues aside for the greater good. Many of the conservative/constutitionalist/liberty activists I know are focused on a single issue. They care about many, but there is one issue in particular that they will put above all others.
For me that issue is immigration policy, mostly because I see how it directly impacts all the other issues that are of critical importance to the conservative coalition. But, what happens when we activists fail to make sacrifices on our pet issues in order to advance the overall cause of liberty and prosperity for our country?
One of the best examples of what can and will happen is Obamacare. Now that it is law, conservatives seem united in opposition to the intrusive legislation. But, that wasn't the case for some when it was being debated in congress.
In March of 2010, I wrote about the missed opportunity we had to kill Obamacare before it got started. At issue was opposition to Obamacare by pro-life Democrats who feared the bill would be used to provide publicly funded abortion. In order to get pro-life Democrats on board Obama and Pelosi agreed to push through the Stupak amendment which would guarantee there would be no public funding of abortion. Rep Stupak and other Democrat congressmen publicly stated they would not support Obamacare if the amendment were not included.
Some Republicans crafted a plan to kill the amendment by voting present on the action. Th amendment would have lacked the votes to pass and in so doing would have kept pro-life Democrats from voting in favor of the larger Obamacare bill. In comes the NRLC (National Right to Life Council).
Because they were so hyper-focused on the issue of abortion, they threatened Republicans considering to vote present on the Stupak amendment. They argued a 'present' vote would be the equivalent of a vote endorsing abortion and would go after any Republicans who voted that way in their next elections. As a result, they caved, the amendment passed, and with it Obamacare.
Once signed into law, it only took the HHS secretary a few short months to implement tax payer funded abortion. To get around the limitations of the amendment that led to executive orders being issued by Obama to prevent tax payer funding the HHS secretary implemented an optional $1 per month premium for abortion coverage, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the bulk of the costs associated with abortions.
Even before that confrontation the NRA agreed to not fight the passing of Obamacare if they got key concessions inserted into the bill. In addition, they refused to support Republican challengers in elections against pro-gun Democrats like Indiana's Joe Donnelly. Now that Obamacare is law, those provisions are attempting to be circumvented by executive orders issued by President Obama in combination with various state and federal gun restriction laws.
In both these cases, the advocates for these issues were so short sighted and hyper-focused on their issues that they failed to put underlying principles of conservatism first and in the end were left with nothing but less freedom. The concessions they once believed they had were swept away and the federal government got bigger and more powerful.
Now that the idea of comprehensive immigration reform has reared its ugly head again, again we see conservative groups jockeying for their pet issues at the expense of the very ideals that gave them those freedoms. Business organizations like the chambers of commerce, libertarian groups like the Cato Institute, and low tax activists like Grover Norquist are so delighted with the idea of adding 33 million new, unskilled cheap laborers from the third-world that they can use to depress wages and benefits that they are willing to look past the fact that those same workers will became burdens on society, using up welfare benefits and displacing native workers, and, as statistics have shown over the last 100 plus years, will dramatically increase Democrat voter rolls. All of which will lead to higher taxes, increased government interference in the formerly free-market, and a general loss of freedom as the progressives seek to grow the power of the central government.
The time for unity is now. We all must be willing to temporary set aside our pet issues if it means we can increase liberty and decrease the size and power of government. We can have our cake and eat it to as long as we are willing to stop putting the cart before the horse. Failure to do that will simply mean more of what we have seen since the earlier 1900's, a slow steady slide into tyranny and socialism.