We just finished the off-cycle elections and the next round of Congressional elections will be ramping up in the coming months. Will the split remain between the House and the Senate? Will one side or the other take both houses? Will the Senate have a veto-proof majority? These questions will be answered in 11 and 1/2 months.
While the political fires are in at least a brief hiatus, I’d like to make some personal observations about the coming elections and my participation in it.
I am thinking through whether I should continue to be affiliated with the Republican party and support its candidates.
Two facts to start this discussion:
1) I realize that no one in the Republican party – nationally, in Iowa, or in Woodbury County – is staying up late at night worrying about my vote.
2) On the other hand, I have been a pretty reliable Republican voter throughout my adult life (my first vote was for Gerald Ford against the peanut farmer from Georgia). I voted for a Democrat for Congress in 1980 when I lived in Ft. Worth, because I thought he was a good candidate. He won the election and later switched parties in the heady Reagan Revolution days, and became a Republican Senator (Phil Gramm). In the late 70s, after learning about the horrors of abortion in America, I made a commitment never to vote for anyone whom I knew was a supporter of abortion rights. That pretty much ruled out Democrats as an option where I voted. While I lived in Cedar Rapids (7 Congressional cycles) I refused to vote for our congressman, a liberal Republican, because of his abortion views.
All that to say I’ve been a lifelong Republican. Truth is, I tend to vote against Democrats much more often than I vote for Republicans. I love my current Congressman, Steve King, but more often than not I’m holding my nose at the ballot box and voting for someone I’m not enthused by, hoping that he or she defeats the candidate I’m incensed by. Every once in a while, I’d like to hang a chad enthusiastically! I am weary of simply voting Republican because that candidate is “better than the Democrat.” If I continue to settle for the lesser of two evils, isn’t evil going to reign?
So, I am wondering what the future will hold, and if my consistent voting record will change.
- I can continue to vote Republican. The purpose of this post is to reflect on what the Republican Party must do to keep me registered in the “R” box.
- I can vote Democrat. When pigs fly. When the Cubs win the World Series. When John MacArthur speaks in tongues. Never. Even if a Democrat had acceptable views, as long as they caucus with the Democrat Party, they are part of the problem – abortion, the destruction of moral values, etc. This is not really an option.
- I can vote for independent candidates. Sometimes they are good ones. The problem is that they are about 49% nuts ad 49% Don Quixote. It amounts to a protest vote, because independent voters just don’t get elected. Is wasting a vote a legitimate option?
- I can give up voting. I have never missed a vote, since 1980, for presidential or congressional elections. But I might just decide to join the masses of Americans who find something else to do on that fateful Tuesday. Not sure what I’d do, but I can just skip a trip to Sergeant Bluff!
I realize this, if I am going to continue voting Republican, it is probably going to have to be with some lowered expectations.
I believe that the battle for “family values” as we have traditionally defined them is lost. America has accepted homosexuality as a-okay and the Republicans are not going to win with a candidate who asserts about homosexuality what the Bible says. Homosexual marriage is coming to a courthouse near you, even if it has not yet. The idea that sex is a gift of God, to be experienced only after marriage between a man and a woman is about as current as knickers or knob and tube wiring. We no longer (if we ever did) represent a “moral majority” but need to focus on being a prophetic minority. We cannot hope for a candidate who completely shares our values and represents our viewpoints. Such a candidate will likely not get nominated and will certainly not win.
If I’m Going to Continue As a Republican
So, if I am going to continue as a Republican, I am going to have to settle and compromise, to some extent. The question is where I am willing to compromise and how much I am willing to settle. I thought I would reflect on my irreducible minimum. I understand that there are no perfect people or perfect candidates. But what I am reflecting on is this, how low will I go?
1) I cannot and will not vote for someone who believes that killing a baby in its mother’s womb is okay. Someone who has a moral compass so perverted as to believe that to be acceptable simply does not get my vote. To me, that is the bedrock, the watershed, and whatever other cliched metaphor you want to apply. If the Republicans are not a pro-life party, I want nothing to do with them. Single-issue voters are held in general disrepute. Fine. There are lots of issues that matter. But this is not an issue on which I will compromise. If the GOP gives up this platform plank, I hope they get drummed in historic numbers! I will no more vote for pro-death Republicans than I did Democrats.
2) I want a candidate who respects me enough to tell me what he (or she) really thinks, not what I want to hear. It is hard to tell how sincere someone is, but I believe that a strong majority of Republican politicians are PLINO (pro-life in name only). Romney’s magically-timed revelation about abortion at precisely the moment he decided to transition from liberal Massachusetts to national Republican candidate was at best suspicious. Let Republicans be the party of straight-talk and honesty. No more saying one thing and doing another. Candidates that demonstrate this kind of insincerity will lose my vote. I don’t need a candidate to be an evangelical Christian, nor to pretend to be one, to get my vote.
3) I want a candidate who is a man or woman of character. I’m tired of hearing “family values” from men who are cheating on their wives! I’m sick of hearing those who rail against pork-barrel spending ad earmarks, but join in when it benefits them. Hypocrisy is not a quality I admire. True character is among the hardest things to discern, but I’m going to at least be looking for it! Let’s be the party of integrity.
4) I want a candidate who champions religious freedom. When cultural Christianity was the majority viewpoint in America, we could afford (though it was unwise) to hope for candidates who would enforce that viewpoint in Washington. Now, I do not believe that the question is whether the Christian mindset will prevail in America, but whether we will be allowed to practice our faith without interference. We are being painted as extremists, as hate-mongers, as dangers to society. We need to be focusing on protecting religious liberty and the freedom of speech.
5) I want a candidate who understands that you cannot debt-finance the American economy ad infinitum. I want fiscal conservatives who do not bribe voters with promises of free this and government-funded that. Republicans need to be consistent and faithful advocates of fiscal sanity.
6) I want a competent candidate. I’m sorry, fellow Republicans, but we have too often settled for candidates with more patter than brain-power. Some of our superstars, especially in the media, have been known for wild rhetoric rather than for reasoned solutions. There are some good candidates out there, people who are qualified to make some of the changes that need to be made.
What will 2014 bring? Who is going to be elected in 2016? My crystal ball is broken and I have no strange fire to offer. But I know that while I am still likely (at this point) to give the Republican candidate a close look, I’m not going to continue accepting the lesser of two evils forever.
Most of the commenters here are Republican, or Republican leaning. There are a few Democrats that lurk in the shadows and a few more independents. This is a self-reflective post – a Republican looking inside his own party. I’d request you avoid heaping your contempt on the GOP in this comment stream. If you’d like to reflect on your own party (or lack of one), go for it. But, fellow Republicans, what do you think about America’s political future?
- Are you all-in with the GOP even if they abandon some of the planks that conservatives have demanded?
- Do you buy the lesser of two evils argument?
- Do you agree that we must view ourselves as a “prophetic minority in America” – as conservative Christians? How does that affect our political involvement?
- Are you, like me, evaluating your part in the Grand Ol’ Party?
Tell Dave all about it!