I vote a straight Republican ticket during each election. I do not do so out of blind allegiance to the unfailing wisdom of the Grand Old Party. I do it because I understand how our political system works. That last particular statement should appeal to those who share my core political beliefs and those on the polar opposite. It should resonate because my decision on which party to give my support to is based on cold logic that can be equally applied to left or right. So let’s try to suspend (mostly) partisanship for a moment and keep an open mind.
In Germany, Great Britain, and many other political systems that have a prime minister/chancellor as their head, an election is held to send representatives to the capital city, much like our own system. Those representatives are as diverse as our own Congress, which sends both Ron Paul the Libertarian and Bernie Sanders, the self professed socialist to represent some segment of “the people”. Here is where the American system parts ways with the Euro-model. After all of their representatives’ get to the big city, they elect their equivalent of president. But, as there are so many different political parties represented no one of the parties has a majority. So they have to get together to form a collation. That collation picks the head of the country and sets the state agenda.
You think I am being cynical. I think those who say that are politically naïve. I can give plenty of real world examples in the last decade starting with George W. Bush’s Prescription Drug Plan. Out of the 220 Yes votes, 204 came from Republicans and that after severe arm twisting by the President. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2003/roll669.xml#Y
That pressure to vote the party line came in the form of threats not to back the representative on his re-election campaign or being denied a coveted spot on a committee. The votes were needed, so the Republican voted along the party line. You would have thought that more Democrats would have voted for it, as this was a popular Democratic idea. But, party politics got in the way, on that side, too.
Fast forward to 2009. The 800 plus billion dollar stimulus bill was passed with three total GOP Yea votes from both houses. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/14/us/politics/14web-stim.html
The following year, ObamaCare was passed without a single Republican vote. The votes were needed and the Democrats held hands and voted the party line, while the GOP did the same in opposition. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/21/AR2010032100943.html
A more recent a home grown example was Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s decision to ignore the illegal activity of the Occupy Denver protesters. John Hickenlooper is the poster boy for moderation. He was a well liked mayor for Denver and was thought to be as apolitical as was possible for a Denver mayor. But the reasons the governor gave for allowing the illegal activity to continue made no legal or logical sense. (Hear his comments here: http://www.850koa.com/pages/mikerosen.html?page=2)
He said that the district attorney had not filed charges and the State of Colorado did not have a jail to put them in. Those are both very lame reasons, in that trespassing, public urination, and open drug use can be dealt with on the spot and do not require anything from the DA. As for the jail excuse; these are not hanging offences. You issue a ticket or just ask the people to move on. When it was three guys and one tent, it would have been that easy. But, because the governor is a Democrat, and the leader of his party, the President, had spoken favorably of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters, and that at least one high profile labor union was lending support and people to the OWS cause, the governor was hesitant to act. When he finally did act, it was necessary to spend sorely rationed tax money on hundreds of state troopers and other law enforcement officers to do what two of them could have accomplished three weeks earlier. All of that time and money wasted in the name of party loyalty.
Maybe a Republican governor would have been sympathetic to Tea Party protesters, and done the same, had they decided to break the law. Personally, I think not, but I digress. The point being is that Party Rules, and you need to choose a side. You need to examine your own core beliefs and values and pick the side that best represents you. My most important political beliefs involve a free market and limited government. I think we need to get the government out of providing, but not funding, education to our children. Having a little Faith in your life is good, and having the government pay for abortions is bad. Am I disappointed in the Republican’s on these points? Constantly. But, I am appalled by what the Democrats do on the issues I deeply care about. So I have to pick one side or the other.
Why one or the other? Because we have a two party system. Those who vote Libertarian, Green, Socialist, or any of the myriad of other minor parties are throwing their vote away. Their man, in only rare and isolated circumstances, gets elected. Ron Paul runs as a Republican or he wouldn’t be elected. Bernie Sanders is from the small and very left state of Vermont. He couldn’t be elected if he resided 50 miles to the west or east. Most everyone else gets a Democrat or a Republican. Since we have a two party system and I want to play in the sand box, I chose my side. I think it’s time for those smug pseudo-Independents and those who vote for one party because their folks did, to grow up, assess their beliefs and values and pick a side. Of course that will require knowing the issues and where each party sits. I don’t hold out much hope. It’s much easier to watch American Idol, instead. But, one thing is for certain. You will be governed by those elected. And those elected will be Republican or Democrat. Will you be in the game or not?