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EPJ is known for keeping a sharp eye on politicians (e.g. Rand Paul and Justin Amash) who gradually take the road of compromise away from liberty. To others, it seems innocent, and is justified as necessary, but here, we preach that once that road is chosen, it quickly becomes a very slippery slope. The politician (who originally may have had good intentions) often ends up doing tremendous harm.
Power is unnatural and very seductive. It warps the mind.
A perfect example is the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson.
Here was a man, who when out of office, was a GIANT for the cause of liberty. Yet, in the political arena, and while President, made decisions that were as far from liberty as you can go.
One of Jefferson’s major blunders was the Embargo Act. In an effort to harm the warring powers of France and Britain, the this Act prohibited virtually all U.S. commerce with the rest of the world. It also banned all land traffic with Canada. The law required, among other things:
- American vessels were prohibited from landing in any foreign port unless specifically authorized by the president himself.
- Trading vessels were now required to post a bond of guarantee equal to the value of both the ship and its cargo, in order to insure compliance with the law.
In an effort to combat the loopholes, Jefferson doubled-down and passed another Embargo Act that:
- Prohibited, for the first time, the export of any goods, either by land or by sea.
- Subjected violators to a fine of $10,000, plus forfeiture of goods, for each offense.
- Granted the President broad discretionary authority to enforce, deny, or grant exceptions to the embargo.
- Port authorities were allowed to seize cargoes without a warrant, and/or to bring to trial any shipper or merchant who was thought to have merely contemplated violating the embargo.
Power is unnatural. Once you give in to it...you're sunk.
After his Presidency, Jefferson returned to his old self. A look at his tombstone gives a great indication that he knew of his errors. There is no mention of being President of The United States. The only accomplishments listed are those that are admirable:
Libertarians must realize that power is poison to the mind. Even Thomas Jefferson couldn't handle it. Let that be an instruction.
If a libertarian decides to enter the den of vipers, he/she must stick to libertarian principles, without compromise.
Ron Paul did it. He refused to step foot on the slippery slope.
His choice made him a hero.