Will We “Vote for Principle” or Choose to “Just Win Baby!”
By Robert W. Peck
Is everyone else’s mailbox getting stuffed with as many campaign mailers as what I’ve received this year? At the beginning of the election season I was tossing some of the mailers in the garbage, but then I decided to start a collection. I now have a pile of over 40 mailers on the table, 14 of which are for a single candidate, and it’s not over yet.
Last week, I was about to comment that the incumbent Republican U.S. House candidate was sending me a mailer every day, but this week I have to update that as they’ve picked up the pace and I actually received two mailers the same day. I can’t imagine how much money it takes to so saturate a Congressional district with advertising. I’m sure it’s well beyond what ordinary citizens and mere voters can comprehend.
While counting up the mailers for the incumbent Congressional candidate, it occurred to me to look at the “paid for by” section. To my surprise, all but one was paid for by the state Republican Party. The other one was from the NRA.
I haven’t made a habit of looking at sponsor ID in the past, but I really can’t remember ever receiving campaign mailers paid for by the Republican Party.
I have two strong Christian and traditional conservative Republican state legislators who represent my district, but I haven’t received anything from the GOP supporting their campaigns.
We have a fiscally conservative, pro-liberty and limited government candidate running as a Republican for county commissioner, but I haven’t seen any mailers from the R Party for him either.
However, when it comes to a U.S. Representative with a score of only 62% on The Freedom Index, 55% according to Heritage Action, and 44% based on the standards of Conservative Review, well, suddenly, the Republican Party has more money to spend than George Soros.
By the way, just in case you think the scorecard game is rigged, it is possible to get a good score. The Freedom Index shows Representative Debbie Lesko of Arizona at 100%; Rep Thomas Massie of Kentucky 99%; Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky 94%; and Rep Raul Labrador of Idaho 89%, but it’s mostly downhill from there. Gee, it occurs to me that I should call those candidates to see how many mailers the GOP is sending out for them. Oh, never mind, I think I already know the answer.
Earlier in the campaign season, my incumbent U.S. Rep’s Democratic challenger was running YouTube ads (the ones that come on before you can watch the video you clicked on) accusing her of being funded by “dark money,” a sort of code word for big money and deep pocket insiders. The GOP seems determined to validate that accusation by now spending ungodly amounts of money that I really can’t imagine coming from the voters of the district. To date, I haven’t received a single mailer from the Democrat challenger while the Republican incumbent is at 14 and counting.
Sadly, most of the content of the mailers has been focused on merely running down and/or exposing the Democrat challenger. In fact, until I looked closer, I thought I was receiving Democrat mailers as the challenger’s name was splashed all over them in big bold letters. Evidently, the greatest virtue Republicans can think of to share about themselves is the fact that they’re not Democrats.
Even sadder, none of the Republican mailers for the incumbent have addressed any social issues, discussed the Constitutional rule of law, or confronted a single federal usurpation, not that I expected them to, it’s just that it’s a missed opportunity to discuss the only issues that really matter and make sound principles part of the public debate.
Yesterday, I received a mailer promoting the Republican U.S. Senate candidate that was even more vacuous, utterly frivolous, and completely devoid of substance. It seems the incumbent Democrat listed her hiking and outdoor activity in the section of the state voters’ guide for “Community Service,” so, the Republicans are now touting their candidate’s superior community service (lunchroom volunteer, “saved” the symphony, recipient of the “Good Neighbor Award,” etc), as evidence that she “cares about us.”
This person is running for the upper house of government in the most powerful nation on earth and I’m being asked to make my choice based on a juvenile, petty competition over community service activities that supposedly prove how much she “cares about me.” How utterly warm and fuzzy and completely insulting to my intelligence. What about issues like deficit spending, perpetual war, and the disintegration of the moral fabric of society, or anything of substance dealing with principles and policy? This is the kind of campaigning that lowers the collective voter IQ and degrades the whole political process as we devolve into an asinine debate of who is the nicest person, likes children, and is kind to small animals.
However, the saddest commentary in all of this is the fact that negative campaigning works and that inundating the public with inane advertising appealing to emotion rather than intellect gets votes. If this kind of advertising didn’t produce results, political campaigning wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry in America.
The gravest indictment is against “we the people,” including the so-called right, as evidently, we have become so weak-minded as to allow ourselves to be swayed by mudslinging, fear mongering, vacuous rhetoric, petty personality contests, and emotional ploys. If we were a people of character committed to sound principles, candidates would only need to inform us of their values and guiding philosophies so that we could pick the person who aligns with what we understand to be right.
But alas, it appears that both major parties and political factions have become wholly devoted to the Al Davis mantra of “Just win baby!” No principles necessary; no substance necessary; just look good, spew emotionally moving vague rhetoric, and above all, remind the party’s base that “the other guy is evil.” If it takes big bucks to get the job done, that’s alright. The parties will call the high dollar donor list, corporate lobbyists, and PACs, then, they’ll accuse the other candidate of being bought off by dark money and special interests. Whatever it takes to get the vote.
Al Davis had a winning philosophy for football, as demonstrated by his Oakland Raiders, but incorporating the “just win baby” mentality into politics will gut us of moral character and eventually remove all guiding principles from the equation, as it has already done to the conservative movement to a great extent.
Every time we respond to emotional ploys and advertising gimmicks like those in most of the mailers I’ve received, we reward the big money that drives such campaigns and the weak, watered-down messages that candidates have been instructed to use to pacify the mindless masses. And the behavior we reward is precisely what we will get more of.
I can’t tell you exactly where to draw the line in withholding your vote from candidates who are compromising the principles. It’s up to you to pray, search the scriptures, study the Constitution, and then, discern for yourself the inward witness in your own spirit – that inward voice of conscience that teaches your heart to condemn one course of action, like when you can’t quite look your father in the eye because you know you did wrong, but it gives you inner peace and a good conscience before your heavenly Father when you choose another course and sense Him smiling back at you with approval (1 John 3:20-21 / Col 3:15 AMP).
Nevertheless, I can tell you with certainty that if we let ourselves be lead by parties, candidates, and advertising campaigns driven by the spirit of “just win baby,” we will eventually forfeit all of the principles that Christians, conservatives, and Constitutionists started out trying to preserve. At that point, no amount of winning at the polls can save us as our own values will be lost.
Even if we vote for principled candidates who lose, we win the victory of keeping our values alive in the public debate. But when we support and vote for timid and compromising candidates who do not clearly articulate our values to the public, our message is silenced, removed from the public forum, and will soon be gone from the public consciousness.
The only way to retain Biblical and Constitutional principles is to hold fast to those standards, refusing to be moved into the land of compromise, but instead, insisting that anyone desiring our support or vote come join us under the banner of bold Biblical truth and the Constitutional rule of law.
If we willingly compromise what we know to be right, how can we later defend our actions before a just and holy God or ask Him to bless the work of our hands?
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
(John Quincy Adams)
PS. If you find yourself questioning what the sound principle of good government are, may I recommend that you purchase the Institute on the Constitution home study course. We can’t expect government to be any wiser or more virtuous than the people who elect that government’s leaders.
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