Sunday, December 18, 2011

Leadership vs. Ideals

There are numerous reasons why our government is made up of three branches of government. There are reasons why the legislative branch has two chambers. There are many reasons why there are 435 members of the House and 100 members of the Senate. But the common reason for all these things lay in the fact that our country is made up millions upon millions of people all with different ideas of what liberty means to them. And as a country of liberty, the number one role of government is to protect that liberty, not, as some would think, to hoist upon the others their definition of what 'liberty' means.

There is no question that Washington has become deeply corrupted by lobbyists and special interests groups. It has always been a strategy of power to pool resources. That's the fundamental purpose of those lobbyists and special interest groups. That being said, the corruption of buying votes in Congress is rampant and unchecked at this point. But that begs the question, how do we change that? How DO we bring our country back more in line with the foundations of our Constitution?

First, let me say that lasting change must come from two different directions concurrently. The internal enemies of our country, Progressives/Liberals/Socialist/etc, have gotten this country to where it is through decades of unrelenting work at taking over our education system, our entertainment industry, our media and even our churches. If we are going to bring our country back to the right...and keep it there...we cannot simply elect a good conservative president and re-take the Senate. We must commit ourselves to retaking those institutions where the Progressives have won the hearts and minds our young.

That being said, this coming presidential election carries significant importance. Newt Gingrich has been criticized over the course of the campaign for having called Paul Ryan's plan for our Medicare system, "right wing engineering". However, if you look at the video, he wasn't speaking of what he thought of the plan itself...but what he thought of the method of trying to pass such aggressive reformations without a strong consensus from the people. In his thought, it was no different than what Obama did in forcing Obamacare onto the people without our support. As much as the ideas Ryan proposed were good, and Newt said as much, it was not a good idea to push them onto the people without a consensus from them to pass such legislation.

That, in a strong sense, is what we're facing in this election. We COULD vote in someone with strong conservative convictions and an uncompromising commitment towards governing strictly by the Constitution. But there are two problems with that. One, how does an UNcompromising president get anything passed through a Congress where his uncompromising manner would rapidly isolate him from? And two, even if he were to garner sufficient support from Congress to pass his legislative proposals, would such dramatic changes in our society be acceptable to a large enough segment of society that it wouldn't come back on him through social revolt? People don't like change as it is...and they certainly won't like the rug of how they're used to having things done pulled out from under them. It makes them feel off balance, insecure, and the first sense they have that things aren't going the way they were told they would, they're bail back the security of the way things were.

So let's look at the candidates and see them through these filters:

Senator Santorum has a reasonable good history as Senator. He's been in positions where he has helped the leadership in the GOP to accomplish many good objectives. Congresswoman Bachmann has not had a long career in the House, and although she has been outspoken and a verbal leader in the House, she has rarely been in a position of leadership and thus, has never had to do the work necessary to garner the support needed to pass any of her proposals. Dr. Paul is, in my opinion, much worse. In 24+ years as a congressman, he has never once shown the ability to author a bill and garner the support necessary to get the bill passed. For all their idealism, neither Bachmann nor Paul have ever shown they have the skill set necessary for a president to implement their ideals into legislation.

We could also vote for someone with executive experience. There are three candidates in this campaign who have had to do their share of compromising in order to get things done in their respective states. Mitt Romney had to do it in a state where conservatism is almost an endangered species. In doing what he did, he actually didn't enact much of anything by way of conservative principles. Is that his fault? Does that mean Mitt is not a conservative? We don't really know. That's sort of the problem. Governors Perry and Huntsman did well in their states while working with conservative legislatures. Even so, Governor Huntsman still espouses to more moderate views on many issues. Governor Perry has done well with a supportive legislature and his views still remain conservative. How he would do with an uncooperative legislature is not known.

Lastly, we have former Speaker, Newt Gingrich. For a large portion of Newt's twenty years in Congress, he has been in a position of leadership. He was Minority Whip for several years. The Whip is the person in the party who goes around whipping up support for an upcoming vote. He will work the members of, in his case, the GOP caucus to get them to vote in a way the Caucus leaders would like them to vote. He also is the one to whom those members will communicate their concerns over a specific bill. They will also let the Whip know if there is anything they want added to or changed in a bill before they will vote for or against it.

As Speaker, his position and power was even greater. He had to make sure that he had enough votes to get his bills through. He had to make sure to work with the president to ensure his signature. In his years as Minority Whip, Newt had to work with first a GOP president (Bush, Sr.) and then a Dem. president (Clinton). As Speaker, he had to work solely with a Dem. President.

The most common thing that we idealists forget when vetting our candidates is the fact that a president, as a leader, in order to garner sufficient support to get his agenda passed into law, must know how to work with people with political ideologies quite different than their own. We've seen over the past three years what happens when we have an idealistic president who hasn't the skill set to work with a Congress that isn't always on the same page as he is. When he had a majority in Congress, he still had to force his ideas onto us (Obamacare). He was able to garner enough votes within his own party to pass those bills, but the public, to this day, is still rebelling against it. And when he no longer had a majority in Congress, he was completely exposed for his utter inability to get anything accomplished.

Do we want our next president to be in the same boat? Ideals are wonderful...and are easy to have when you aren't in a position of leadership. I want a president who has ideals...but also has the will power and wisdom to be able to pick and choose what to push for and when to push for to negotiate for what he wants and knows how to get things done. Does it mean sometimes he has to put aside some of his goals, for now, in order to achieve the more important one today? Yes. And frankly, we NEED a President who knows how that's done.

THAT is why I will vote for Newt Gingrich. Has he had to put aside some ideals at certain times in order to achieve what he perceived was a higher ideal? yes. Does that make him less conservative? You could argue that, but you'd be hard pressed to prove it. That's called leadership. And we definitely need a leader. We need someone capable pulling the country away from the left and back to the right. Would we like it if he could pull us ALL the way back to the right? Sure. Can that be done this time round? In my opinion, no. It has to be done in stages. That's how we got in this mess in the first place.