Freedom Caucus conservatives are today’s abolitionists

The House Freedom Caucusis taking flak, with many saying they are responsible for the failure to pass the American Health Care Act.

With all other Republicans on board, the votes of the 29 Freedom Caucus members could have led to passing the legislation. But they refused to support it.

Should they be chastised as obstructionists? Are they childish idealists who don’t grasp that politics is about the “art of the deal”?

Some go beyond suggesting that these conservatives are naive. They accuse them of being sinister, opposing the AHCA to receive fundraising from right-wing zealots and ideologues.

I say not only is this is unfair criticism, but that the conservative stalwarts of the Freedom Caucus are American patriots deserving high praise.

Let’s first appreciate that dealmaking in business and dealmaking in politics and governing are not the same thing. Business deals are about one thing — money.

Certainly there are economic implications to a political deal, but they don’t define the essence of the exercise. The essence is about the nature and meaning of society.

There was a lot of dealmaking in the founding of the American republic and the construction of our Constitution. One of the most famous and consequential “deals” was the accommodation in the U.S. Constitution of slavery.

Arguably, without this accommodation, there would have been no deal. However, the irony of the accommodation of slavery in a nation founded on the ideals of human freedom speaks for itself.

It is clear that a dear moral and human price was paid for making this deal, culminating in a civil war in which 620,000 Americans died. And the repercussions of this deal are still felt today.

The accommodation of slavery in the founding states then lead to further deals — the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act — trying to find ways to accommodate slavery in new territories that entered the union.

All along, there were abolitionists. Those who refused to accept any “deal” that accommodated slavery in existing or new states entering the union.

Many viewed the abolitionists as extremists, fanatics who refused to accept compromise that would permit slavery in America.

One abolitionist, Senator Charles Sumner, was attacked with a cane and almost beaten to death on the floor of the U.S. Senate after he gave a fiery speech attacking slaveholders.

Abraham Lincoln started off as gradualist on slavery, but ultimately clarified his view that on slavery there was no “deal,” no compromise. In his famous “House Divided” speech, he said, “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. … It will become all one thing or all the other.”

The Freedom Caucus members are today’s abolitionists. They see, rightly, how far America has drifted from its blueprint of freedom, and the grave consequences of this fiscally, morally and existentially.

Certainly, the American Health Care Act made improvements in Obamacare. But the core structural problems were left intact.

The legitimate point of the Freedom Caucus is that there is no deal on right and wrong, no compromises on our ideals of freedom.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Parkland kids are rewriting the playbook

Something came awake in them. That has to be the explanation. As they cowered in closets, as they said goodbyes and waited, with gunfire echoing down the halls, to die, something inside stirred itself. And when they didn’t die, when these teenagers left the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland alive — something 17 of their...
Opinion: Democrats dream of capturing California districts

LOS ANGELES — On a recent Sunday evening, Katie Hill, 30, whose father is an L.A. police lieutenant in Beverly Hills, boarded a red-eye flight to Washington for frenetic fundraising and networking. She must really want to get into the House of Representatives. If she does, she will have defeated a two-term incumbent, Rep. Steve Knight, 51, who...

Protesting students should face consequences Local school districts need to reverse their decisions on allowing students to protest. The whole point of protest and civil disobedience is to be willing to accept whatever consequences come their way. Rosa Parks would not be remembered today had the bus driver told her she could go ahead and sit there...
Opinion: Track and deport will keep Georgians safe

Tackling illegal immigration and protecting Georgia families from criminal aliens is a fundamental component of my campaign for governor. When I announced my candidacy in March of 2017, I told a standing-room-only crowd at the Cobb County Republican Party headquarters that it was time to draw a clear line in the sand on illegal immigration. &ldquo...
Opinion: Pence — Trump’s making Ga., America great again

When I visit Atlanta Friday – my second time in the Peach State in just the past week – I’ll bring a message to all the good people of Georgia. The American economy is booming, and we’re just getting started. Since Day One of our administration, President Trump has been fighting to rev the engine of our national prosperity and...
More Stories