In response to Peter Schweizer’s shocking revelations in Throw Them all Out, I organized a call for the resignation of our local Congressman, Spencer Bachus. I was in good company, flanked by conservative giants Andrew Breitbart and Stephen K. Bannon, as well as Business Insider and other Tea Party folks who recognize the urgent need to clean our proverbial house before attempting to sell it in 2012. Despite Bachus’s alleged improprieties, I knew my protest would engender some pushback; I was surprised, however, to see the direction from which it came.
Some Republicans whispered foul, suggesting that I should instead “pick on a liberal like Nancy Pelosi, or even Obama.” When asked, they elaborated that even if the Congressman leveraged his position to gamble against the American economy or bought based upon sensitive, inside information, “at least he’s a reliable conservative vote.”
A reliable conservative vote is necessary. But it is far from sufficient.
Voting in accordance to the wishes of one’s district is a rote activity that any halfwit could perform. Of course, politicians have to vote representative of their districts or risk being voted out; the American electorate understands that fact. However, there is a stark contrast between Congressman Bachus and Senator Jim DeMint, Governor Walker, and Congressman Paul Ryan, three exemplars of voting based on principled leadership, rather than political expediency. The difference can be more insidious than it might seem at first glance. This holds true on both the federal and local levels.
It is easy to “vote right” for your district. Nancy Pelosi wins her district, as do most representatives, not because they are right on the issues, but because they vote in accordance with their districts enough that any “rogue” votes are understated or in small proportion to the ones that please their constituents. Politicians don’t always vote their district out of conviction, but often only because political expedience. Of course, there are ways to “vote right” and kill things behind the scenes. Worse, there are ways for a politician to look perfect on paper, yet behind the scenes sabotage the very votes they publicly support. Our most corrupt elected officials commit the most egregious and invisible act: publicly claiming to fight for something, while secretly cutting deals with other voting members behind the scenes to kill it, or worse, giving it mere lip service but expending zero political capital to pass the bill.
Governor Walker, in contrast, endures great risk in opposing unions in the historically liberal state of Wisconsin. Very little about what he is doing will likely seems aimed at re-election, amassing personal power, or profiting personally. His bold and decisive actions have set the trend of doing the right thing as one sees it, regardless of political and personal cost.
The unfortunate reality of these unsung heroes is often that their careers do not advance. The game of politics does not reward those who are not playing to win personally. To climb the political ladder requires a certain degree of expediency and self-interest. This reality breeds corruption, which is why patriots across this nation must herald the unsung public servants who sacrifice their careers for virtuous acts and must unabashedly rebuke the corruption in our ranks who tilt the playing field against those whose honor and character compels them to behave out of selfless virtue.
Our American history abounds with heroes like Ryan, Walker, and DeMint. Our Founding Fathers risked everything to establish this country. It seems that the least we can do is refuse to look the other way when cowardly, self absorbed politicians in our own party bilk the system at great peril to our nation in these trying times.
What does the term “patriot” really mean in these days of American peril? We submit that this chapter of our Republic necessitates holding our politicians to the highest standards, and obligates us to direct our outrage more at the corruption on our own side of politics than that on our political opponents. We submit that to be any less than that signifies an unforgivably cowardly act of selfishness. That is the act of a traitor in these days, when many believe this nation teeters on the brink of disaster for lack of solid, conservative leadership.