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Principles vs. Preferences

By: Jessie Markell

A common dilemma in politics is weighing one’s personal preferences versus their political principles. A good example in the news would be the Marketplace Fairness Act. The proponents of the terrible piece of legislation have signed onto the bill claiming it levels the playing field between online retailers and
“brick-and-mortar” businesses.

The Marketplace Fairness Act, despite what its supporters will tell you, is an increase in the amount of taxes a taxpayer will pay and also undermines federalist principles, allowing states to reach out across their borders. Keeping taxes low and protecting federalism should be two very important principles that any conservative worth their weight in salt should have.

This is where the problem comes in. A few of the conservatives who haven’t out-right supported the bill have made it apparent that if certain parameters were changed (i.e. increasing the “small business” exemption, better regulating the number of times a business can be audited, etc.), they would be open to supporting the bill. This would be giving up on your principles for some preferences. Sure, those changes would make the bill less terrible, but the bill would still violate our core principles.

The encouraging thing is that liberty minded conservatives will often stick to their principles tooth and nail, never conceding an inch. In fact, at a recent policy briefing on the Hill put on by the Heritage Foundation, a Heritage staffer was confronted with the question of supporting the legislation in any form. They took a hard stance against the bill in any form because of the blatant ignorance of federalism and its creation of a net increase in the taxes we pay, a stance we share here at Campaign for Liberty.

The flip side of the coin is that our movement can sometimes have trouble identifying which stances are just preferences. For example, we might prefer that companies would label their GMO foods, but it would be against our principles to force private companies by government mandate to do anything.

It is up to each individual to decide what their preferences and principles are, but it is essential to maximizing political success to understand the distinction.

Also, ask your representative to sign Rep. Thomas Massie's letter urging House leadership not to hold a vote on the so-called "Marketplace Fairness Act."


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