By James Zumwalt, Special for USDR
As America’s important mid-term elections approach, we have witnessed un-American campaigns seeking to gain influence with voters. Candidates have played up the “fear” card or played it down, depending upon which best serves their party’s needs. Unfortunately, the idealism demonstrated by our Founding Father’s in pursuing the Nation’s common good has been eroded by the realism of party politics.
While our Founding Fathers had their own differences, a consensus gave way to unity in support of the common good—knowing their own lives were at risk by doing so. What their debate had put together, no patriot was to put asunder.
Similarly, once the American people have spoken through an election, it is unpatriotic—absent that candidate’s refusal to preserve the governmental process constitutionally mandated by our Founding Fathers—to de-rail a good faith effort aimed at enhancing America’s positive footprint upon the world order and improving life for her citizens. Regardless of party politics, the common good lies in elected officials working together successfully to protect our national security interests, preserving America’s prestige, maintaining its important leadership role in the Free World and improving our economic security.
Only after an official’s time in office has demonstrated a lack of leadership skills or the endangerment of American values and freedoms should the official’s efforts then undergo much closer scrutiny.
Elected officials also have a responsibility to act in the best interests of the Nation’s common good. That responsibility includes never undermining it by raising fears where none exist or ignoring fears where they do.
Thus, ideally, both voters and elected officials share a common goal to promote the common good. But, today, party politics dominate, generating political gridlock.
With mid-term elections upon us—the outcome of which will determine U.S. Senate control—consideration of the Nation’s common good is missing-in-action. Campaigners play political poker, using—or not—the “fear” card, depending upon whether their own party’s common good can be furthered. Both parties recognize the outcome will reflect the voting public’s acceptance or rejection of President Obama’s domestic and foreign policies.
To influence the former, Democratic campaign gimmicks have included sending out warnings a Republican controlled Senate means Obama’s impeachment. This suggests preventing an impeachment investigation identifying possible commission of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is more important than whether such crimes have actually occurred.
This smacks of the same tribal mentality our military encountered in Iraq concerning the commission of a crime. If the victim was a tribe member, a crime had occurred but if the perpetrator was a tribe member, it had not. In America, we replace the word “tribe” with the word “party” member.
Sadly, in both Iraq and the U.S., it is the Nation’s common good that loses out where such a mindset rules.
Other Democratic senate campaigns have candidates racing to raise the race issue—a card more often played to trigger voter guilt than to support factual occurrences. Obama supporters have used that card for six years now whenever critics attempted to focus on his performance. And, where the card was not playable as the critics were African-American, the “Uncle Tom” card made an appearance.
Most recently, the race card was played by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) as her poll numbers continue to sink, claiming Southern racism is to blame for Obama’s unpopularity. “The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” said Landrieu. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”
Landrieu played another ace in her hand—the “gender” card—by claiming the region “has not always been a good place for women, to be able to present ourselves. It’s more of a conservative place.” Oddly, these issues did not prevent Landrieu from winning three previous elections to the Senate. Instead of acknowledging it is her and Obama’s incompetency at issue, her lust to retain power and protect her party trumps the Nation’s common good.
Charles Krauthammer’s October 30, 2014 article “A Referendum on Competence” explained why, as evidenced by the weakest recovery in two generations due to Obama’s mishandling of the economy and his unsuccessful, much-ballyhooed effort to reduce income inequality, incompetency has become the real issue. He adds to the list of disasters “the Obamacare rollout, the Veterans Affairs scandal, and the pratfalls of the once-lionized Secret Service.” Furthermore, “Beyond mere incompetence is government intrusiveness and corruption, as in the overreach of national-security surveillance and IRS targeting of politically disfavored advocacy groups.”
Having supported Obama with 97% of her Senate votes, Landrieu has to accept responsibility for her own blatant incompetency in supporting the captain of a ship-of-state hitting shoal after shoal. Refusing to acknowledge this, Landrieu plays the guilt card with Louisiana voters, ignoring the Nation’s common good.
Meanwhile, in the New Hampshire race, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and challenger Scott Brown debated the question of what poses the biggest threat to the U.S. Brown cited ISIS and its ideology. Shaheen disagreed. Not responding directly to the question, she played down the terrorist group’s threat, suggesting Brown is guilty of fear mongering. As more people fall victim to ISIS brutality and its call for terrorist attacks in the West is answered in Canada and the U.S., Brown’s assessment becomes worrisomely accurate.
Political campaigns in America today have shed our Founding Father’s gold standard of yielding to the Nation’s common good, sacrificing it at the altar of the false god of party politics.
Even as recent as seventy years ago, this was not so.
In the 1944 presidential election, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) sought a fourth term, opposed by Republican candidate and New York governor Thomas Dewey.
Concerns by the military arose over Republicans raising the issue during the campaign of why, based on having broken the Japanese code prior to Pearl Harbor, FDR issued no warning of a possible attack. If not due to incompetency, it was believed the President intentionally did so to win support from an American public clinging to neutrality.
Surprisingly, three years after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese still used the code, allowing the U.S. military to monitor Japanese military movements. Thus, raising any discussion about Pearl Harbor during the campaign would tip the Japanese off their code had been compromised. Not wishing to endanger U.S. national security, Dewey refused to raise the issue. By doing so, he proved to be an American first and Republican second—placing the Nation’s common good above party politics, suffering a resounding defeat for his effort.
Compare this to a memo distributed to the Democratic Party leadership prior to the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush claiming “the administration’s dubious motives” leading up to the Iraq war and seeking to posture an investigation to bring maximum embarrassment to the President. The 2003 memo stated, “We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation of the administration’s use of intelligence at any time—but we can only do so once…the best time would probably be next year…Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public’s concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq.”
Apparently time is not of the essence in revealing such matters to the public but timing its release to maximize the Democratic Party’s interests is.
There is little hope we will see a return to political campaigning’s gold standard where candidates accept the Dewey principle over one of fear. Sadly, as candidates continue to sacrifice the common good to ensure their own party’s success, America suffers a common loss.
Paraphrasing FDR’s famous quote to Congress after Pearl Harbor, the only thing we have to fear is the candidate’s fear of losing, thus causing him to throw the Nation’s common good under the bus.