I have to admit, as much as I dislike Senator Elizabeth Warren’s politics, I enjoyed her grilling of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. It appears that the bank put extreme pressure on employees to use questionable policies to meet sales goals. First, over 5,000 lower level employees were fired, as if the buck stopped with them. Then, one of the major players got booted, but was given $100 million on the way out the door. All John Stumpf got was a grilling by Senator Warren.
There was something distasteful about the Senator’s berating of Mr. Stumpf though. She is just one of a long line of lawmakers who have used their committee seats as sanctimonious soapboxes. It wasn’t until I read a commentary from FEE (Foundation for Economic Education) that I realized how hypocritical Senator Warren’s moral outrage was. (Note, Senator Warren was a TARP administrator when Mr. Stumpf was given a $25 million bonus after the 2008 financial meltdown.)
“Though Warren may “speak truth to power” to Wall Street, she often turns mute on some of the worst abuses of government. Like most statists, she sees the speck in her brother’s private eye while failing to see the beam in her own public eye. A whole manner of sins, it seems, are forgiven once one is “serving the public” in government.”
Senator Warren has no monopoly on hypocrisy in Washington though. From far right to far left, those who have the inclination toward power are, for the most part, always willing to sacrifice consistency, logic, ethics, and fairness to kick an opponent or to protect their power. It is inherent in the nature of politics.
Supporters of Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz have expressed their dismay at the apparent compromise of their candidates’ principles. Congressmen regularly trade favors with their adversaries in hopes of claiming a political win. Campaign promises are quickly forgotten on the second Wednesday of November. Can you name a single national level politician that hasn’t lied to us?
Are these people somehow less principled than the average citizen? Have they lost their ethical compass? Are they the evil power mongers that we (myself included) make them out to be? Some (many!) are, but most are just ordinary people with extraordinary egos. Let’s not lose sight of that fact by putting them on undeserved pedestals.
At the same time, realize that someone needs to do the dirty work of politics. Our friends and family who join campaigns of imperfect politicians are doing important work. Some of us may find it distasteful, but without allies working on the inside, there is little hope of winning important ideological battles later.
Edmund Burke said “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” more than 200 years ago, yet the nature of bad men and the need for the good to work together remains unchanged.
Fight for liberty in whatever way moves you, and have respect for those allies who choose different weapons and tactics. We’ll never agree on what tactics are best, but we must learn to work together for common goals. Let us always remember who the real enemies of liberty are.