Since the beginning of time, political candidates have sought and received political endorsements. Has the far right now turned a tried and true practice into something the "Founding Fathers" never envisioned? The current trend for nationalizing what should be localized and state elections could have some precarious implications for the future.
Once upon a time, the role of a Congressman or a Senator was constituent service. While they were always a member of a party, Democrat or Republican, that was secondary. So was how conservative they were or how liberal they were. What mattered the most was their constituent service. Pandering to one group of people or another was something very few elected officials did, if they wanted to remain in office.
It was about taking care of the people who lived in one’s Congressional District or one’s state. Conservatives lament the fact that Robert Byrd, a Democrat, is constantly re-elected by the residents of a fairly conservative state, West Virginia. It is quite simple. Byrd has spent a life-time assembling a staff that knows how to take care of his people.
South Carolina’s junior senator, Jim DeMint wants term limits for members of the House and the Senate. DeMint replaced a long time Democratic senator, Fritz Hollings, who was constantly re-elected in the most Republican state in the country.
Fritz Hollings was not about being a liberal or a conservative. He was all about serving the needs of South Carolinians. What people in California, Florida, or even Georgia thought about him did not matter. What mattered was the people of South Carolina. He would listen to the people of South Carolina, and ignore everyone else. His votes reflected the will of the people of his state, not the will of someone in Arizona. He did what we told him to do.
Butler Derrick was an annoying, but all powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives from South Carolina. He knew how to play to certain elements within the District in order to be re-elected term after term. Once again, it was not about liberal verses conservative, Democrat verses Republican, it was about constituent service.
The intent of our Founding Fathers was to elect members of the House of Representatives to represent the men and women who lived within a certain region of a state. Their districts had nothing to do with geography and everything to do with the number of people they were/are to serve. Their election and re-election was based on how well they cared for the interests of the people who lived in that district.
The same held true with United States Senators. They were elected to serve an entire state. They were not elected to be minor Presidents, but Senators, their august role patterned on that of Ancient Rome. They were to be statesmen, orators, and rise above petty bickering to have a little dignity.
The President of the United States was to represent We the People – all of us. Today’s conservative seems to have forgotten this little civics lesson. Presidents represent the entire country. Senators represent an entire state. Members of Congress represent an entire Congressional District.
Not until the past few years have elections for the House and Senate been nationalized. By conservatives doing so, they have violated a sacred trust between citizen and elected official. The special election for NY-23 was the worst example of this flagrant disregard for the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
The bitter irony here is the fact that conservatives like to think we have a lock on patriotism and just who and what the Founding Fathers were, and what they were thinking. The problem with this is the practice is that in doing so, conservatives have become so terribly self-righteous that they are now reading their own desired, no matter how lofty, into how the Founding Fathers wanted this nation governed.
While it was perfectly acceptable for a national party to step in and endorse a candidate, it rarely went beyond that. A seated or former President would sometimes campaign in a district or state, bring with him this aura of the office, a bit of glamour, and a heck of a lot of excitement. A famous face might endorse a candidate. But never would political leaders who were not attached to that specific state or district ever step in influence a race.
What happened in NY-23 was a violation of all our Founding Fathers held sacred. Those political leaders who were involved in the circus, attempting to nationalize a “local” election should be ashamed of themselves. As a Republican, it saddened me to watch as something of a civil war erupted with conservatives denouncing one Republican after another as not pure enough.
The entire debacle has brought us to the point where certain more conservative United States Senators are playing chess, throwing their weight into the primary process in states like Florida and California. Never in the history of the nation has this been done in such a flagrant and rather distasteful way. These individuals are so intent upon acquiring conservative power that they are literally thumbing their noses at what our Founding Fathers intended.
Several years ago these same individuals would be the ones damning the use of PAC money from outside a district or state. Today, they are forming the PACs, distributing the money to individuals they feel would best suit their personal world view, never bothering to even consider what would be best for that specific district of state.
The beginning of the end goes right back to the anti-immigration wars of a few years ago. Suddenly “activists” from one part of the country felt they had a “God-given” right to step in and interfere with elected officials in another part of the country. No longer were Congressional offices the bailiwick of the people of a specific district. They became ground-zero for men and women who were arrogant enough, and ignorant enough to think they had a right to dictate how someone for whom they would never vote, should vote on an issue.
Their efforts were aided by ultra conservative blogs and bloggers like Michelle Malkin, who used her influence to denigrate and harass. She threatened to destroy anyone who did not agree with her. Hundreds of thousands of ignorant “citizens” took their cues from she and annoying extreme conservative talk show hosts like Laura Ingraham. Not wanting to be left behind, Rush Limbaugh came late to the argument. He also began damning individual Republicans who did not march lock-step to the conservative argument.
The end result was the hugely embarrassing circus of NY-23. There, a “local” Congressional election became a proving ground for conservatives, PACS, and egos who wanted to reach out for more power. Ironically, those who once worshiped at the Altar of Reagan have betrayed them. They have ignored the intention of the Founding Fathers they venerate, as they continue to make fools of themselves by threatening to interfere in local Congressional and Senate elections from Florida to California.
As a Republican, I have absolutely no intention of voting for any of the individuals who felt they had to right to nationalize Congressional and Senate elections just to elect men and women who are "pure" conservatives. It is a message we need to send to our cowardly elected officials who run for cover every time a blast fax from one of the misc. minutemen groups threatens them with annihilation, or those silly little tea party "patriots" threaten to kick them out of office. Maybe these "patriots" should take Civics 101 and realize they can only vote in the Congressional district and state where they live. For gosh sakes they aren't ACORN, are they?
The dirty little secret is that these "patriots" really don’t have the power to get their candidates elected. They can destroy a Republican and throw a seat to the Democrats (which may be their actual intent) but they cannot win elections. They are spoilers, self-righteous, ignorant spoilers who talk a good game, but appear not to really care what this nation is all about.
Do we really need conservatives like this?