Among the many obstacles we face in saving our ship of state from sinking is our mixed minds about our elected officials. The more frustrated we get with inaction, the more we want to throw the bums out, but then tend to replace them with others who have such a disdain for compromise that they make matters worse. Can you spell “Tea Party”?
Of course, our politics are a mess, with monied interests having more influence than ever, but the idea that the Tea Party has answers to our dilemma is delusional, even if you are as smart as George Will.
The conservative columnist was positively aglow yesterday at the Texas Senatorial primary victory of Ted Cruz, a Tea Party candidate with uncharacteristically impressive academic credentials, over a fellow conservative Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who had the solid backing of the state’s Republican apparatus. Actually, part of his problem may have been he had too much backing, “as Tea Partyers and other conservatives look askance at persons who play too well with others,” according to Will.
The columnist used this opportunity to take us back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt and his trying to play fast and loose with our constitution, one indication of how progressives have no, or at least insufficient, respect for the limits of that cherished document. To Will, electing Cruz to the Senate – to join the likes of Jim DeMint and Marco Rubio, will help ” preserve the Constitution from capricious majorities.”
I wonder whether it ever occurs to Will and other proud protectors of the constitution that they, the Tea Party in this case, would never have been able to come up with a constitution themselves. Even the sophisticated Will conveniently ignores the complex combination of compromises required to create that hallowed document. Foremost, as odious as slavery was to many, it was tolerated for the time being in order to come to an agreement.
In short, it was good that our founders could play well with others.
Ohio Republican Representative Steve LaTourette, who has been a nine-term Representative in Congress, has played well with others, including those across the aisle. However, he has had enough of the present climate in which “compromise” is a dirty word and resigned a few days ago.
His motivations for quitting may not be as pristine as that, in that he has also been frustrated by not getting a position he wanted. But despite a Wall Street Journal editorial to the contrary, it seems clear that he is has been a well respected, well liked centrist who has fought hard for his positions while also open to compromise, mostly supporting Speaker John Boehner, but also going against him at times. Of course, WSJ will have none of that, instead calling him “a spender and earmarker, famed for currying favor with union special interests.”
He also curried favor with his district, receiving 65% of the vote in his last election and, though WSJ suggests his real reason for quitting might be a redrawn district that could make “reelection more difficult”, that is a stretch. The present Democratic candidate seems so weak that others in that party would like to replace him now that they have a better chance to win.
As to the resignation, The Cleveland Plain Dealer notes: “Congress’ repeated failure to pass a long-term transportation bill was Exhibit A to LaTourette, a pragmatic conservative who believes infrastructure is a basic government function and one that might require, yes, higher taxes.” Apparently not grasping the wisdom of Will, WSJ and the Tea Party, the Plain Dealer editorial called his resignation “bad news for greater Cleveland.”
While WSJ is happy to see La Tourette go, as it “might be a chance to fill the seat with a more reform-minded member”, one more reformer who disdains compromise is the last thing we need in Congress. Representative LaTourette is the kind of individual I believe a majority of us would like to see in Washington, someone not so blinded by ideological principles as to be unable to get something accomplished in addition to protecting our constitution.
- The misery of the moderate Republican (salon.com)