Dateline: 11 August 2006
An invitation arrived in my mailbox early last month...
You Are Cordially Invited To a Reception Featuring Vice President Dick Cheney
The reception, held at the Hotel Utica in Utica, New York was at 5:30 pm. Doors opened at 4:00 and attendees were advised, “Please allow sufficient time for security.”
I received the invitation because I am involved in Republican Party politics. Six years ago I became a Republican committeeman. It is the committee that chooses candidates and then collects signatures on petitions to get their chosen candidates on the ballot.
I joined the Republican committee for the same reason I ran for a seat on my town board. As a Christian, I feel compelled to be involved in the political process, to be salt and light in a dark and unsavory part of our modern culture, to be a public servant in the best sense of the word.
Well into the second term on my town board, I can tell you it has been an enjoyable and satisfying job. But being a Republican committee person has been disappointing— very disappointing.
I say that because I’ve come to realize that relatively few people are involved in political party politics for altruistic reasons. I dare say most people are in it because they hope to personally benefit in some way from it. Some want a government job or they want to advance in the government job they already have. Others hope to get some sort of government grants or contracts that will benefit them. Political connections (often referred to as “juice”) make all the difference. Some join the committee for the social aspects; they love to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to rub shoulders with, and be on a first name basis with, popular politicians. Then there are the precious few who are in the Republican committee because they want to be an influence for righteousness. These are stubborn oddballs who value principle over pragmatism. They can not be bought. They are, therefore, marginalized. They are pariahs. I count myself among them.
Now, here is where I must confess that I work for a N.Y. state government agency. Someday I’ll tell you about it because it is a somewhat remarkable job. At least I think it is. I mention it because I want to make it clear that I did not get my job because of my political connections. Fact is, I was not involved in Republican politics when I got the job. And I hope I never stoop so low as to use any political connection to help me advance myself. It’s bad enough that I work for the government. I’ll not make it worse by seeking anything from a corrupt political system... and, believe me, it is corrupt.
Since getting involved in Republican politics, I’ve become disenchanted and disgusted with the way the party system in this nation works. I see that the bulk of lower committee people, the worker bees of the party, like me, rarely have much say in who is chosen to run for office. Back room agreements and understandings are made and candidates are chosen by higher-ups before the Committee meets. It is typical for only one candidate (no challengers) to be presented to the gathered committee for a “rubber stamp” vote of approval. This is especially true in the state races, and certainly in the national races.
Outsiders, those who are not familiar with how the system works, and hope to run and get elected on their superior credentials are, time and again, shut out of the process in favor of a candidate who is “more qualified” because he or she is better connected to the party.
Two years ago I broke with the local committee and refused to collect petition signatures for an 11-term Republican incumbent “moderate” running for reelection to the US House of Representatives. Mr. Incumbent was in the back pocket of the abortion-on-demand lobby. That tells me volumes about the man’s character. He was financially backed by the liberal group, People For The American Way. The candidate I chose to support was the complete opposite—a genuine, conservative, pro-life, pro-second-amendment physician. He was a qualified and capable man.
Many pundits speculated that the brave and decent challenger had a real chance of winning—that Mr. Liberal Incumbent was in trouble. But the incumbent was flush with money from his special interest backers. He hired savvy, campaign-hardened political consultants. His campaign was carefully orchestrated. It was, I suppose, what is to be expected from a slick, well-entrenched, Washington DC veteran politician whose job is seriously threatened.
Mr. Incumbent “generously” spooned out the pork to key organizations in his district. He walked the walk and talked the talk like all politicians do when they are running for election. The upstart challenger was smeared and discredited. He was outgunned and soundly defeated. He never really had a chance.
I was profoundly disappointed at the loss—not so much because it was a loss, but because the incumbent used lies and half truths with such cunning ruthlessness to discredit a sincerely decent man. Make no mistake about it, politics is a dirty business. Politicians put on a friendly smile and seem to be everybody’s friend, but it is a show. They are masters of deception.
That is what I have learned from my brief involvement in Republican politics. Of course, it is the same in the Democratic party. When you clear away the rhetoric and look at the reality, both parties act in the best interests of their own exclusive “clubs.” The best interests of the nation and the people are secondary to their own best interests. Both parties are, in my opinion, ships being captained by corporate special interests. Follow the money.
Yes, I readily admit it—I have become cynical and jaded about political party politics in this country. It is a self defense reaction on my part. You either become that way or you become absorbed into the corruptness of it all. I have seen Christian people, people who I respected and thought were solidly grounded in their faith, rationalize away and compromise their Christian convictions because they didn’t want to go against the party. They allowed themselves to be absorbed into the corruptness.
And so, when I received that invitation to meet the Vice President of The United States, I found myself not the least bit interested.
I determined that I would much rather do something more exciting, more rewarding, and far more important that evening. I decided to stay home. I worked in my garden. I spent time with my wife and children on our little homestead.
It was not a difficult decision to make.
By the way, I do not expect to stay involved in Republican Party politics much longer. I don't see how I can. But I will keep watch for brave challengers from outside the mainstream. If I think they are godly people, running for all the right reasons, I will help them with their campaigns. It doesn't take much to pass a petition and write a letter or two to the editor of a local newspaper. I'll even send them money. In other words, I will go to battle, but I will choose my battles carefully, as the Lord leads me.
I will also stay on the town board, and I expect to run again for the position when my term expires. I will not run as a politician because I am not, and hope never to be, such a creature. I will run as a simple, and sincere public servant. As such, I will do what I believe is right and true and best for all the people I serve, based on the dictates of my Biblical Worldview. I pray to God that I never compromise in that regard.
Oh, one last thing... If you’ve read my blog for long, you know that I have never discussed political issues here before. This post does not signal any significant change. It has been an aberration. Such discussions will be a rarity. We will return to regularly scheduled topics associated with Faith, Family, and Livin’ The Good Life in the next post. Thank you.