Jason Chaffetz, False Outrage, and Straw Men
There’s a lot of outrage being circulated in the Bloghive about Jason Chaffetz and his desire to overrule Washington, DC in their decision to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. A lot of this outrage is centered on calling him a hypocrite. The argument centers around the idea that Chaffetz’s professed belief that government should do as little as possible is in direct contradiction to attempting to overrule a decision made by the city council. Unfortunately, most of the people making these accusations have inconsistencies of their own.
The problem with a principle is that it has to cut both ways. You have to adhere to it for both things with which you agree and things with which you disagree. For instance, you can’t proclaim to be a believer in free speech and then demand that some talking head on <insert news network here> lose their job or be shouted down because he or she said something you disagree with. It’s hypocritical to hold that kind of double standard.
When it comes to local control, you either embrace it or you don’t. Selective application will not work and our state legislature has been proven guilty of this a number of times. Unfortunately, the ragers are taking the selective application route on this issue. If the outrage is truly about local control and not about same-sex marriage, then where is the outrage that Congress has been considering shutting down the city’s popular school voucher program? Doesn’t that also thwart local control? Or is that okay because it acheives one of your political aims? That kind of inconsistency and insincere use of a principle is the mark of an opportunist, someone willing to use whatever tool is at their disposal to get what they want.
All I’m asking is that if you’re going to use something as a reason for being upset, try and be a bit more consistent about it. It would otherwise behoove you to shed that shameless pandering to populist sentiment and be honest about why you’re really upset.
Let me also take a moment to knock down the “limited government” straw man that has been built up. You may not have noticed, but the “limited government” tent is rather large. It includes paleo-conservatives, libertarians, minarchists, anarchists, moderates… you name it. None of these groups agrees on all of the points, but there is a general consensus that there are many spending and monetary policies that should not be under the purview of government, particularly at the federal level. For someone not in this camp to try and falsely extend it to include social issues is disingenuous. You cannot be a non-participant in a particular school of thought and attempt to redefine what it means for your own advantage.
Of particular note is that nowhere on Jason Chaffetz’s campaign website does it say anything about what scope of limiting he believes in concerning social issues and the federal government. In other words, attempting to call him a hypocrite on something he never said by fabricating his position is dishonest. You’d get downright cheesed off if it were done to you; stop doing it to someone else.
It’s okay to disagree with Rep. Chaffetz. It’s fine to disagree loudly and nastily. When doing so, however, try to stay honest. Propping up your arguments with fabrications and duplicity does not lend strength to your argument or position.