Perfection: The enemy of us all

10 Nov

To my loyal readers:

Introducing the newest regular contributor to FSP, Doug Smith!

What can I say about Doug Smith…Doug is undoubtedly one of the most intelligent people I know.  I appreciate his service to our country in the Navy and his commitment to our nation as a patriotic citizen.  He’s a superb writer who often delves into “tongue in cheek” analysis of government and possesses what has become an “archaic” view of conservative responsibility to our nation.  I appreciate him as a writer, musician and friend. Please welcome Doug to the FSP army!


About the author:


Doug Smith was born in Huntington, WV during the Eisenhower administration.  Ike was singularly unaffected by the event. It did begin a series of adventure for Doug, however. 

 While he considers Huntington his hometown, and West Virginia his home state, he has traveled and lived in a number of places.  By the time he began school, he had lived in Huntington, Portsmouth, Va, Santa Anna, Ca.

  Nor did formal schooling stop that tendency to travel.   After beginning school in Huntington, his family moved enough so that by the time he graduated high school 12 years later, he had attended 7 schools.  

 During  school , Doug worked as a short order cook, curb boy, soda jerk, bus boy, and pearl diver.  He was a quintessential Band Geek, musician, and music lover.  Sizing up his prospects in the middle of the recession of 73-75, and being 18 feeling invincible, he opted for a stable, quiet, sedate endeavor.

 He joined the Navy. 

 During 2 years of training in electronics, he embarked on several great adventures.  He married, began a family which grew to 4 children, ( and ultimately 5 grandchildren) , and joined the crew of a Nuclear Fast Attack Submarine.  

 He served 9 years in the Submarine force, as an Electronics Technician on a boat, an Instructor at the Naval Submarine School in New London, achieving the rate of Chief Petty Officer. 

 Doug has been in over 30 US states, 10 foreign countries, 2 continents, 2 hemispheres, 2 Oceans, 3 Seas, the Panama Canal, the Straights of Magellan, the Gulf of Mexico, and in his travels has logged over 1.5 million miles. 

 He also, much to his chagrin, voted for Jimmy Carter. 4 years, of malaise later, as part of a military who sat seething through the debacle of the US Embassy hostages in Iran, and Carter s impotence as a Commander in Chief, he heard a speech given by the Governor of California, Ronald Reagan.  He became, first, one of the Reagan Democrats, who crossed over to help put him in office, then later, as he saw the strength and confidence growing in the country, a dedicated conservative.  

 Since returning to West Virginia from the Navy, he has worked as a Vocational Teacher, in the mining industry, and in electronics and computers. 

 He is an amateur musician, artist, and writer. Which of course means that no one pays him to do any of these things.  While he will accept donations, he is subject to tax, just like everyone else.  This, of course, serves to strengthen his conservatism. Meanwhile, his amateur status seems to be safe, since donations are pouring in as quickly as a politician admitting a mistake. 

 He reads, writes, and comments on conservative principles, mental health issues,  and issues affecting the health and strength of the USA, believing that these principles provide the best path to leave a stronger and better country for his children and grandchildren. 



The word is alluring.  Who doesn’t love a perfect game; a perfect sunset; a perfect day?  Who doesn’t dread a “perfect storm”?  We also feel a bit inadequate because we never seem to quite achieve personal perfection.

In politics, the desire for perfection has created two unintended, but insidious traps.

I like to think of them as the “If only” trap, and the “all or nothing “trap.

Let’s take a look first at the If only trap.

From Plato’s Republic, through the French Revolution, to the 20th century string of failed Socialist states, have fallen into this particular trap.  These utopians buy into the fantasy that they can overcome human nature and create a paradise in which everyone does the good thing and the right thing all the time, and everyone is content.

If only, everyone would give to the best of their ability, and be satisfied with getting what they need (by our definition) it would be Utopia. The trap they fail to see in their thinking is

“How great things would be if not for those pesky people.”

But societies are invariably made of people, not angels. They act in their own interest, more often than not.  Their “better angels” are subject to their own whims and failings.

And so, when everyone working in a factory gets the same pay, few will work harder or faster than the worst worker. Industry and ambition are not rewarded, so everything tends to the mediocre at best, and more often than not, failure.  While the urge to compassion may lead people to help the poor, we see all too often that state sponsored, and forced, “compassion, lead to paying to reward irresponsible behaviors.   Time and again we get more of what we pay for more of.   We pay people not to work.  We pay alcoholics because they can’t keep a job due to their drinking.  We pay to support people who start families which they have no ability to support.  Utopians are then surprised that for all our money spent, we get more people not working, caught in alcoholism, and having children they are unable to support.  Common sense folks who work and live among other people are not surprised. Economists are not surprised.

When these principles fail in Russia, they try them in France. When they fail there, our own Utopians try it here. When it fails under Wilson, they reason, Wilson was not our guy. FDR will make it work.  When he does not, LBJ says, I ll do it right.  After 17 Trillion of Great Society spending, with no reduction in the numbers living in poverty, there are still Utopians who argue

“If only we had spent more, if only WE had been in charge, it would have worked. “

If only is a form of insanity. It denies the realities, and tries to govern based on what “we ought to do”, and not what we actually do. And it fails, disastrously every time.

If only people would not react like that. But time and again, they do.

The other trap, which I see conservatives fall into, is the “all or nothing “trap.

This one says, well, if I can’t eat cake, I’ll just eat mud. This is the trap that says if my party does not go far enough to pull us out of the ditch, then I might as well let the guy who drove into the ditch keep driving.  This is the argument of the child who will cut his nose off to spite his face if he can’t get his way. ( I raised one of those!)  It is based on emotion, not reason.  If I want a Congress to cut taxes by 10 percent, and they only cut them 5 %, then I might as well vote for the guy who is going to raise taxes by 20%.   How’s that again?

We saw this play out in 2012. Dissatisfied with Mitt Romney, 4 million GOP voters who voted for John McCain in 2008  sat out the election.  Barack Obama went on to win re election by fewer votes than he did in 08, and by fewer than those 4 million.  Had they voted, Romney would be President today.  Now, would he have been as good a President as some of the others in the 2012 GOP field? Perhaps not. Would he have been better than the continued failures of Barack Obama? You bet!

Conservatives who fall into the All or Nothing trap, will nominate the most conservative candidate possible, even if he cannot be elected.  They will only vote if the nominee is the most conservative possible candidate.

The result of this form of insanity is that conservatives get the worst possible outcome, e.g. a radical Barack Obama, instead of a “better than a sharp stick in the eye” Mitt Romney.

William F Buckley put forth the Buckley rule. ““Nominate the most conservative candidate who is electable.”  Mr. Buckley s rule made a lot of sense.

Let’s wish for the perfect, hope for the best, but always work to get the better.  Perhaps we can move out of the politically insane traps that have brought us to the chaos all around us in 2014.

One Response to “Perfection: The enemy of us all”

  1. shtownsendwriter November 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    In a socialist government where people would have to share their earnings, my biggest concern is that people would cease furthering their education. Why should they go into debt by going to college and make the effort to work hard in college in order to obtain a career if someone else reaps the reward? And as you pointed out, who would be willing to work harder if there was no chance for a pay increase or a promotion? Employees would just work hard enough to avoid getting terminated. Many American citizens work dead end jobs as it is, and already have a poor work ethic. They work just hard enough to keep their jobs, one because they hate that job and two because they need that job. So the work ethic is already in a bad place, but collective ownership and shared wealth would put too much stress on the weak structure that is the work ethic and cause it’s eventual collapse, the same way the Obama Administration is putting stress on the fragile structure of America.


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