Means and Ends in Politics
McCain's confusion about the meaning of mavericity is resurfacing now in mirror-image form in the coalescing conventional wisdom that President-elect Barack Obama "must," above all, seek to govern in a "bipartisan" fashion.[via Slactivist]
McCain seemed to think that being a maverick was a virtue in itself and thus elevated the refusal to compromise above the substance of the principles about which one ought to refuse to compromise. In doing so, he confused the ends and the means. That same confusion underlies this talk of the paramount importance of bipartisanship. Bipartisanship and the willingness to compromise for the greater good may be necessary means, but they are not, in themselves, the ends or the ultimate principles or goals at stake. Elevating bipartisanship for its own sake above those ultimate principles and goals is the obverse of McCain's error in elevating contrariness above them.
I don't want a leader who thinks being a maverick is, in itself, the cardinal virtue. Nor do I want a leader who thinks that bipartisanship is, in itself, the highest good. I want a leader who doesn't confuse means and ends.
The good news is that I think maybe I have such a leader.