The Necessity of an Unprincipled Society

Post By: Andrew Lloyd Franklin

            Principles are supercilious and futile. In fact, they are direct impediments to American progress and prosperity. Despite the possibility, nay the inevitability, of backlash for this outlandish assertion, I stand by it.

Mark Twain once quipped, “[w]e all live in the protection of certain cowardices which we call our principles.” The current political culture in America is one that rewards principles. Indeed, we expect principled candidates, officials, and laws. We hope, and often require, that politicians are religiously refined and principled. Yet, we’ve become accustomed to elected officials trespassing on those principles (cf. Clinton, Spitzer, Sanford, Weiner, etc.). Principles have no place in politics.

During a recent GOP debate held on Sept. 22, just two days after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), the military policy preventing homosexuals from openly serving, an American soldier serving in Iraq was booed on national television.

Any American who appreciates that title, who appreciates his heritage, who has a patriotic fiber in his body would be outraged, if not indignant and moved to action upon hearing this news. Some, less so when they hear the reason he was booed. Stephen Hill, the soldier in question, who is openly gay, was booed after asking via videoconference what the candidates intended to do with openly gay and lesbian service members since the repeal of DADT went into effect.

Those Americans who booed, as well as those who take no issue with the ones that did claim that gays serving in the military pose a threat to unit cohesion and discipline, that the US military shouldn’t be an instrument of social change. It was, in fact, that same argument that was made about African Americans serving in the military fifty years ago, and women more recently. Today, there are both African Americans and women serving as Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest attainable military positions. My point: the unit gets over it, and the unit moves on.

The candidates for our nation’s highest office didn’t condemn or even discourage those in the audience who booed an American soldier in a combat zone. They were prevented by religious or moral principles. By which I mean: they were prevented by xenophobia, cowardice, and ambition masquerading as religious and moral principles.

In a time in which 1 in 5 US children are born into poverty, 50 million people are without health insurance, 9.1% of the population is unemployed, and the national debt is 14 trillion dollars, the nation demands leaders, like Stephen Hill, who will put aside their principles – their various human fears – be brave, and serve.

Published by Caitlin Cleaver

Class of 2014 Duke University in Durham, NC

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