“Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”
Sometimes I get in these reflective moods. Yesterday, I started listening to a podcast that I found called “The Thomas Jefferson Hour” where a historian “plays” Thomas Jefferson, and attempts to answer the questions of an interviewer in character for part of the show, and then talks more about how he thinks Thomas Jefferson would have reacted to certain issues of today. It’s entertaining and thought provoking, whether it’s accurate or not.
I was struck by the quote above—taken from Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address. This is something that we’ve more or less come to terms with around our RSE clubhouse—that we all have the same principles in our love for liberty and a desire to get there, even while we oftentimes disagree about how to get there. And it’s o.k. for us to agree to disagree without being disagreeable. In fact, we can challenge one another’s opinion, without impugning our motives—which is (I suspect), what Jefferson was getting at.
It seems to me that today’s Jeffersonians--the larger libertarian community-- could benefit greatly by keeping Jefferson’s words in mind. In the context of the current presidential race, I suspect that Jefferson would believe it good and proper that two libertarian types are competing (along with a lot of non-libertarian types); I suspect that he would think it perfectly acceptable that Ron Paul and Gary Johnson might have a difference of opinion on how best to achieve liberty on some issues; and I suspect that he would be quite pleased that the two of them (if not all of their supporters) have intuitively taken his words to heart, and declined to attack each other. They know, perhaps, that they share the same principles, even if they disagree on some of the specific or see a different way of moving toward the end goal.
This is one of those strange election years. I support both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. I have a favorite, but I’d be perfectly content were either of them to make the cut. The principles are the same—I have no doubt of that; the difference is stylistic, and in the means to achieve the principle.