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How Conservatives Have Destroyed the Founders’ Intent

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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?

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About SJ Reidhead

  • SJ. You fail to ask the more important question which the teapariers and other protesters are asking, which is whether we need Republicans or conservatives in office who vote for massive bailouts and uncontrolled spending and tossing away our rights and our national sovereignty. That behavior on the part of your elected representatives is what is being opposed and it should be.

    As for the Scozzafava debacle, the root of that problem was having a candidate picked by party insiders with no input from the public. That betrayal of the public trust by the political elite opened the door to all that outside meddling.


  • Who has voted for the bail-outs but a couple of Republicans in the House? After that first one, the GOP has held the line.

    NY-23 was a fiasco. No one came out of it looking good. But – it opened the doors for further behavior of the same. Very few elections are ever NY-23s. It seems to me NY has a history of problems in special elections, so why was any of what happened a surprise?

    I still think NY-23 should have been left to the people of that District.

    I have a difficult time trying to figure out how someone so libertarian (as in Libertarian-Republican) can advocate government staying out of our hair as much as possible, which BTW, I also do. If you advocate that, how can you go with outside forces manipulating elections that are the business of the people in that district. Sure, we want certain candidates elected, but when do we began violating the spirit of a person elected to “represent” a specific Congressional district and a state? Isn’t this new call for purity and for people who have no blasted business telling say, the people in NM’s 2nd District how to vote, doing so, opening a Pandora’s Box?

    I conservatives are headed down a very dark path. You can’t advocate libertarian principles and want to manipulate every little election. You turn those libertarian ideas into nothing but a joke.

    You can’t have it both ways. Don’t you find it rather humorous that conservatives who advocate “home rule” don’t hesitate to tell someone clear across the country how to vote, there-by turning themselves into the very thing they do detest?

    You can’t have it both ways. Either give up being libertarian and start acting like a socialist or behave like a libertarian or a conservative and let people pick their own candidates and elect their own officials.

    What really bothers me is the arrogance of the whole thing. By stepping in to manipulate an election from the outside, conservatives are telling the people of a state or a specific district that they are too stupid, dumb, ignorant, or ‘impure” to handle their own affairs. It is a recipe for abject disaster.

    Don’t you find the whole NY-23 story a little interesting. Evidently there wasn’t all that much protest in the district as to how Scozzafava was chosen (which was an abject disaster, and people should be expelled from where ever they can be expelled, etc) until that Hoffman started snuggling up to Glenn Beck?


  • OH, that opening sentence in the 4th paragraph is a little pathetic! Should contain the following at the end of the sentence:

    …can you advocate manipulating elections?

    (something like that)


  • The public did speak in NY 23 — they elected a Democrat.

    When Dave decides to go all populist, as in commenting on this article, he chooses to pretend that ‘the will of the people’ includes only loudmouth teabaggers.

    Liberal and moderate Democrats, not to mention moderate Republicans and independents, are conveniently ignored — the better to exaggerate the importance of the loud and the ignorant who misuse and abuse the word and concept ‘liberty’ in the same offensive way Dave does.

  • PS I actually like this article. I have not agreed often with SJ in the past.

  • Yikes!

    Have I done something wrong – if you liked it?

    I seem to remember Dave also thought NY-23 was a fiasco.

    The real problem is the fact that I think if this behavior continues (conservatives, not Dave) that it is going to turn into the conservative’s own little ACORN.

    I will try to write something you dislike next time.

    Just kidding.


  • SallyVee

    A very thoughtful article with which I agree. I am so exhausted with the TeeVee People (FoxNewsers) led by Beck & Hannity, trying to control the levers of Right Wingdom from their living rooms. It’s silly and beneath the dignity of serious American citizens. We should not be answering the insanity and silliness of the far left with insanely silly populism from the right.

    In many ways, rightwing fringies are as addicted to celebrity, shallow rhetoric, nagging nannyism, vastly overblown outrage and shortsighted strategy as the O-bots. The only good news is, I think the fringies will flame out. Come November 2010, Obama & his Socialist Clown Posse will have clarified the battle lines to a point far beyond argument.

  • Neither of you really read what I wrote.

    The problem in NY-23 is that the election was being manipulated from the start. I don’t buy the assumption that it is any better for party insiders to rig the election than it is for other interest groups to rig it. The fact is that both groups wanted to interfere with the democratic process and I’d have preferred for the people to have some input earlier in the process. Why is that such a problem?


  • Arch Conservative

    Handy….you, Ubermann, Maddow and the rest of the getalong gang can keep snickering and referring to them as teabaggers.

    The desire not to have the federal government dictate every aspect of our lives is not right wing extremism. For every person who attended a tea party event, there are another who stayed home but feel pretty much the same way.

    You’re in for a very rude awakening come November 2010.

  • Zedd

    The Founding Fathers did their best at fortune telling, however they were just men.

    They had no concept of the world that we live in. It’s nice that we give them so much homage but is that the goal? It was not their intent that their vision be so important but the usefulness of their ideas. It was always about We The People. It still is.

    So how universal and relevant are our legislations. How do they ensure fairness and support liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  • Lumpy

    Zedd u live in a fantasy world. If the founding fathers got a look at your ideas they’d want to put an end to public voting entirely.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    SJ –

    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?

    YES! Ab-so-lu-TIVE-ly! Because it’s only with the ongoing meltdown of the Republican party to the point where only its base will remain – and aided by its historic disdain for minorities – that we Democrats will be able to do what is necessary to bring fiscal responsibility back to America, and enable health care for tens of millions of Americans whom the Republicans would leave behind.

    YEAH! Cheney/Palin for GOP in 2012! Or Palin/Cheney! Or Palin/Beck!

    Between the “purity test”, the continuing revelations of the Bush administration’s failures in Afghanistan, and more about how Bush was ‘hell-bent’ on invading Iraq, the GOP’s “budget proposal” that had NO numbers, the GOP’s “health-care reform” that would have enabled almost NO health care for the 45M+ uninsured Americans, and the continuing Republican disdain for minorities despite the all-but-certain demographic changes that are proceeding apace…

    …I really don’t see how the Republicans will dig their way out of this hole. With two exceptions, that is: a major terrorist attack, or Weimar-Republic-scale deflation. These the ONLY events that could sweep the Republicans back into power.

  • Lots of wishful thinking going down between Glenn and Zedd. Tragic that it has zero to do with reality.

    And more of the lies and distortions – “historic disdain for minorities” my ass.

    All it will take to bring Republicans back is for the Democrat-authored economic fiasco to continue for another 6 months or so, along with the rest of the continued assault on our liberties, and we’ll see a tidal wave for change push the GOP back into power.


  • zingzing

    what “Democrat-authored economic fiasco?”

    i do see your point, it being that if shit continues to go south, the party in power will no longer be in power, but to say that the dems are the one that created this “economic fiasco” is just… ridiculous. “wishful thinking,” indeed.

    besides, which “gop” will get back into office? you guys are sniping at each other so hard right now that there seem to be two different parties fighting for the same name. i’m not sure you’ll like the gop that does find its way there, and as much as i despise some of your political beliefs (or catch phrases), the other side of the republican party is far more disgusting than you are, and gaining more popularity.

    “”historic disdain for minorities” my ass” my ass. southern strategy?

  • Zedd


    What ideas? You just wanted to post something but didn’t know what to say. Didn’t you?

  • Zing, it’s the truth, even if you don’t like it. Look at the facts. Even TARP which was the first of the disastrous spending measures would not have passed had it not received most of its votes from Democrat legislators. Only a handful of Republicans supported it in Congress. It was a product of Bush and the Democrats who wrote it.

    As for which GOP, I’m in favor of the one which likes small government and liberty. And I would argue that the theocratic elements of the party are in the last throes of their demise.

    As for the southern strategy, it has always been about states righs, not minorities.


  • zingzing

    for fuck’s sake, dave… “Look at the facts. Even TARP…”

    like tarp is what did this!? that’s like blaming the cancer on the surgury. tarp didn’t CREATE this. tarp was an attempt to stop the blood. and the republicans voted in more than a “handful” for it, so you can give that up as well. about 50% of house reps and 66% of senate reps voted “yipee!”

    “As for which GOP, I’m in favor of the one which likes small government and liberty.”

    ahh, the meaningless “small government.” even those that like “small gov’t” don’t seem to like it so much when it’s theirs to run. and “liberty…” ah, that old trope. nothing as meaningless as that. it’s like promoting “air.” and “toenail growth.”

    “As for the southern strategy, it has always been about states righs, not minorities.”

    BULLSHIT. it was about gathering up southerners who had voted independent in the previous election because they were sick of those “liberal” democrats trying to integrate their schools. so nixon slowed desegregation in an attempt to get those votes, and he did it as loud as he could. “states rights…” come on, dave. that’s the most ridiculous thing you could have said right there.

    in your mind, “keepin’ the negroes down” equates to “liberty” if you actually believe that.

  • Lumpy

    Despite all the hostility I think what we are seeing here is the last desperate lashing out of leftists who are finally realizing that socialism fails here just like everywhere else.

  • zingzing

    ah, lumpy. ever the optimist. of course, seeing as how we live in a capitalist society, i dunno how we can really test socialism here.

  • Mike

    I almost peed my pants laughing so hard at the comments regarding the republican landslide in 2010. The last time republicans won it was 2004 and George W. Bush was reelected. Good luck getting Americans to forget that f***wad

  • Arch Conservative

    How frustrating it must be for you lefties…..

    You’ve finally gotten one of your own in the White House…..Pelosi in the House….Reid in the Senate…..yet you still can’t get you agenda over on the nation……….

    If only those evil, inbred Fox News watchers would shut up…..Don’t they realize that it’s your ideals that will save humanity from itself? How can they be so ignorant that they can’t see the obvious….that supporting the liberal left wing agenda will eventually bring about world peace and harmony and justice for all………..

    For a bunch of people that got exactly what you wanted…you sure are doing a lot of bitching.

    Who knew that your messiah was so fucking impotent?

    The animosity and distaste that so many had for Bush and the GOP is rapidly being replaced by animosity and distaste toward Barry and the Dems. Don’t believe it?……..keep telling yourselves that 2010 is going to be a good year for your agenda.

  • Thunder from Down Under

    “You’re in for a very rude awakening come November 2010.”

    Maybe not.

  • zingzing

    archie, you’re a recovering economy or a functional health care system away from your worst nightmare.

  • Arch is taking the broken clock method of predicting elections.

  • zingzing

    yeah… i’ve been coming around here since about 2005 or 2006, and the republicans have yet to win a significant election… and what’s archie’s favorite mormon? the guy he said would be president by now… ahh, can’t be bothered to remember his name. oh, yeah, it’s probably reagan. well, it should be, since archie is caught in some fantastical version of the 80s he doesn’t remember. anyway, doesn’t look like archie is the best odds-maker on political betting. unless you go against his predictions. would have been good money by this point.

  • Zing, the chances of a recovering economy or a functional health care system in the next decade are vanishingly small.

    For once I think I’d have to bet on Arch.


  • zingzing

    a decade? so you don’t think the republicans, should they get into power, can do any better, eh?

  • Mark

    So who cares if it’s dumb or dumber in 2010? Neither party has an interest in nor the power to impact our bulimic production process (and culture) significantly. Think revolution.

  • Zing, I think that if the Republicans get into power it will take them years to fix the problems we currently face. Obama has done decades worth of damage in a matter of months. It will take years and years of austerity, government cutbacks and reforms to get us out of the hole we are now in and get the economy startd again.


  • zingzing

    i’d say that the economy is showing signs of recovery, and as long as it continues down this path, we should be alright in the not too-distant future. but the economy is a fickle thing. i hope (and i hope you hope so as well) that you’ll be eating those words by 2011, maybe earlier.

  • Baronius

    The Federalist idea was to have a small central government, so it wouldn’t matter who the voters of another state chose for Congress. The people who affected you the most were the state and local officials and the “People’s House”, with the state legislators picking your senator. Nowadays, the voters of San Fran have more say over my local roads and schools than my mayor does.

  • Obama has done decades worth of damage in a matter of months.

    Watch out, Dave…Your rhetoric control has gotten stuck in the ‘Laughably Hyperbolic’ setting.

    How can you expect to have a reasonable discussion when you throw out propagandistic nonsense of this sort?

  • Baronius

    Well, a bad Supreme Court justice will stick with you for a couple of decades, and at the rate we’re paying off our debt, the last months’ spending will be with us…forever. The administration has set a couple of nasty precedents, like firing the head of GM and backing out of our commitment to Eastern European missile defense. But most of the really bad, irreversible stuff is still being written in the House and Senate, at least the things I can think of.

  • It’s the nature of political discourse that true believers among the opposition always bemoan the long-lasting damage the current administration is doing. We Dems did our share of it during the Reagan and Bush presidencies.

    The worst legacy of Reagan, Clinton and Bush has been the rancorous, polarizing partisanship that crowds out most attempts at real conversation/discussion on many issues.