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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It’s All About Character

                             It’s All About Character

         I used to think it was about principles, but I have learned that it’s all about character. It doesn’t mean anything if you have lofty principles, but your character is so flawed that you can’t live up to those principles. I’ve met a number of such people in my life, even some who have written books extolling their lofty principles, who don’t have the character to live up to those principles. These folks have high principles and low character.

         The Republican Party held a primary in Virginia the other day and it was a good example of people of high principles and low character. Note that this doesn’t refer to liberals or conservatives, but simply people who don’t live up to the principles they profess to believe in. Unfortunately it’s nothing new, especially in politics. Those involved in politics seem to be able to rationalize not being faithful to their word or even to an oath.

         For many years, at least since the 1970s, the Virginia Republican Party asked participants in the candidate selection process (whether primary or convention) to sign a "loyalty oath." All the oath said was that if you wanted to participate in the candidate selection process that you agreed to support the ultimate nominee in the general election no matter who it turned out to be. It seems fair to me that if you want to participate in the affairs of a private organization, i.e. the Republican Party, then you agree to support the nominee, even if you have to hold your nose. After all, no one forced you to participate in the candidate selection process. I always felt that this should be especially important to anyone who is an office holderfrom precinct chairman to US Senator, but that has turned out not to be true. It’s that high principle and low character thing.

         In 1980 at a district GOP convention, the purpose was to select delegates to the national Republican convention. Several candidates were running for the Republican Nomination for President, including George Bush and Ronald Reagan. Well, as you know, Ronald Reagan ended up being the Republican nominee. I naively expected all Republicans to rally around their nominee. After all, wasn’t that what they agreed to do when they signed the loyalty oath. Instead, a good number of "Republicans" ignored the fact that they had given their word to support the Republican nominee and instead supported John Anderson for President.

         Fast forward a few years to the US Senate contest where Oliver North was chosen as the Republican nominee through a statewide primary. Not only did John Warner decide that he would not campaign for Ollie, he went out and recruited an independent candidate in an effort that successfully torpedoed the Republican nominee in the general election. Now presumably John Warner, who is older than I am, signed that same loyalty oath that I signed. I don’t know what kind of mental gymnastics he went through to rationalize breaking his word and deserting his party, but he did it. Once again, it was a display of high principles and low character. And, unfortunately, it wasn’t the only time this "Republican" senator actively campaigned against statewide nominees of the Party.

         In the Virginia Republican primary held last week, two incumbent Republican Senators were defeated in the primary. Apparently these senators felt that they have a God given right to their state senate seats. Otherwise, why would they now be criticizing their Party with the intent of causing the winning nominee to lose the election? Or why would retiring state senator Russell Potts say he is considering endorsing the Democrat candidate for his seat? Where is the loyalty? Where is the character? But why should I be surprised? This same Senator Potts ran as an independent candidate for US Senate in the last election with the express purpose of defeating Republican incumbent George Allen.

         Of course, such cavalier disregard of Party loyalty is nothing new. Liberal Republican office holders have a dismal record to supporting conservative nominees. This is true in spite of the fact that conservatives generally hold their nose and vote for the liberal nominee, but it is clearly a one-way street for many liberal Republicans.

         And then they get mad when they are referred to as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). Duh!

         This is not about principles, this is just about being a brat. A brat says, "If I don’t get my way, I’m taking my marbles and going home." This isn’t about being a conservative or being a liberal or even being a moderate, it’s about not having the character to live up to your word. Nobody likes a brat, and I’m more than tired of such bratish behavior among folks that should know better. I’m not reading them out of the Republican Party, they are doing that for themselves.

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