In Praise of Ineffective Politicians
By David Henderson
Twitter today is all heated up with justifiable upset about Donald Trump’s latest anti-liberty proposal: a prison sentence and possibly loss of citizenship for someone who burns a flag. Other tweeters have pointed out that the prison sentence part of what he proposes is similar to the legal sanctions in a bill on flag burning that Senator Hillary Clinton co-sponsored: the Flag Protection Act of 2005.
Aside: One of the biggest benefits of the web is that it’s much harder now to stuff things down the memory hole, and this latest revelation about Senator Clinton is one such instance.
I mention Clinton, not to join the chorus of people attacking her, fun as that might be, but to make a different point: her bill didn’t go anywhere. Indeed, she was fairly ineffective as a U.S. Senator. Many people, including Donald Trump, have criticized her for that. But I come to praise her. I would love to have politicians who are effective at protecting and increasing our freedom. But sometimes the best we can do is get politicians who are ineffective at reducing our freedom.
A 19th century politician named Gideon J. Tucker wrote, “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” He could have added that they’re not safe even when the legislature is out of session. But the point remains: If they’re in session, they’re often (usually?) trying to reduce our freedom and so it’s great when they’re ineffective at doing so.