Party Over Principle

I read in the newspaper (yes, the old-fashioned ink-on-paper kind) Phil Bredesen is running for the U.S. Senate seat from Tennessee made available by the retirement of Bob Corker.  For those of you not from Tennessee, Mr. Bredesen was a two-term governor of our state and did a fine job.  He is also a Democrat.  My first reaction was “Good!  A decent human is running for that seat”.  I was glad to see it.  But after some more thought, I realized I probably won’t be able to vote for him.  Why might that be?  I voted for him for governor, so why not senator?  It’s that darn (D) after his name.  As governor, his party affiliation didn’t make much difference, at least not as he practiced it.  But in the U.S. Senate, I don’t think he could overcome his party affiliation.  That’s a shame, and it’s a symptom of much larger problems.

Recent elections have pointed out, with startling clarity, a lack of quality among those who desire to lead us. A friend once opined anyone who wanted to be elected to office shouldn’t be. Sadly, he seems to have been correct. How did we get to a place where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were our choices for President of the United States?  How was Roy Moore the best Republican in Alabama to run for the U.S. Senate? I think most will agree all were poor choices. The problem is most people who possess the qualities we should require of our candidates are not willing to subject themselves to the endless poking and prodding which comes with holding office. More importantly, they aren’t willing to make the moral compromises necessitated by the way the game is currently played. A person with leadership skills, integrity, a strong moral compass, and an ability to compromise makes a great employee or employer.  Their value in the commercial market makes it hard, if not impossible, for them to become politicians.  This leaves us with people who are ruled primarily by personal ambition in the form of a thirst for power, and greed.

The larger issue, in my opinion, is even when a good person chooses to run for office, they will be beholden to whichever party they have chosen to associate.  Bredesen is a great example.  He appears to be a good man.  As I said, he was a fine governor.  But in DC, his association with the Democratic party would require him to support policies with which I strongly disagree.  Whether he personally supports them or not will not matter.  He’ll have to play ball with the party leadership or lose their support.

The opposite is also true.  Although no real evidence has been put forth, Roy Moore appears to be a reprehensible human being.  Republicans in Alabama were forced to make a hard decision.  Those who voted for his Democratic opponent claim to have voted for their principles.  In saying so, they mean they voted against him because of his alleged misdeeds.  I certainly respect and understand their choice.  But they also voted for Democratic policies. Doug Jones says he’s a fiscal conservative and a supporter of the Second Amendment, but even if he has the fortitude to vote his principles, he’ll be drowned out by the leftists in his party.  In the end, did they really vote for their principles?  If you know a person is going to support policies with which you disagree, even if they’re a decent person, is it proper to vote for them as opposed to someone who will support policies you favor?  I certainly faced this issue with Trump.  I think Trump is a spoiled rich kid and an actor who is concerned only with himself.  I do not think he’s a man to be looked up to.  I don’t think he’s really even conservative. The only thing he has going for him, in my opinion, is he isn’t Hillary Clinton and her thinly disguised Socialist agenda.

What is the American voter to do? Right now we’re forced to vote for the lesser of two evils, which means we’re still voting for evil.  Something has to change.  More people need to participate in the process.  Voter apathy virtually guarantees the current state of affairs will continue.  An ignorant, or at least gullible, electorate will not solve this problem.  A news media guided by allegiance to a party and not journalistic integrity won’t, either.  I think it is going to take the emergence of a strong third party to make things change.  That’s a tall order, given the power the media currently wields.  They decide who gets heard and who doesn’t.  They even decide who participates in debates. Until this changes, substantive change will be extremely difficult.

In closing, I’d like for us all to remember these issues when we think about those who voted differently than we would like.  I’m trying to point out here that a vote for a person doesn’t necessarily indicate full support of said person and their personal background.  We all want to vote for people whom we respect, both personally and as politician.  We want people who have the courage to vote their convictions, even when they go against the party line.  Sometimes those people just aren’t on the ballot.  Until those people come forward with a desire to serve, we’re going to have to make compromises.  Compromises which will unfortunately lead us to once again cast votes for evil.