As anyone who follows politics knows, there’s a strong anti-incumbency trend among voters. In fact, there are quite a few among us who are loudly proclaiming that both parties are equally bad and that we should throw them all out. A Rasmussen poll in August of 2009 showed that 57% wanted to replace the entire Congress.
I can only think of one argument for that course of action: We really shouldn’t have a professional political class in this country, and that gesture would go a long way to ending the one we do have. On the other hand, I can think of a whole host of arguments against doing it. In my view, we absolutely should punish at the ballot box those who have promulgated and enacted policies that have been demonstrably harmful to the country, including the health-care bill, the TARP slush fund, and a whole host of others. In other words, the Democrats. We would certainly be justified in getting rid of some of those who purport to be on our side, but who, in fact, have supported the Democrats in their efforts. In other words, the RINOs. But I can see no plausible reason to get rid of those who have resisted the Democrats efforts, and who have actively supported good policies—i.e. conservative policies.
Of course, there’s another way of saying the same thing. I want to vote for anyone who supports conservatism—whichever party they belong to—and against those who do not.
In many ways, this explains the puzzlement of most on the left (including the mainstream press) who fail to understand the Tea Party movement. Their support goes to those politicians—of any party—whose views most closely approximate their own: less taxation, better fiscal management, a much more limited role for the federal government, and so on. (After the fracas over Arizona’s immigration law, I would now add “less illegal immigration”, although legal immigration is fine, so long as it is well managed.)
There are a number of things I intend to consider when deciding for whom to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections. In no particular order:
Did he or she vote for the TARP plan, the bailout, and/or the Healthcare bill? For me, a vote for any of these is very nearly automatically disqualifying.
In general, has he or she worked to expand the federal government or to minimize it? Have they favored state reeminence or have they generally favored central power? While I recognize that practically all politicians at the federal level can be accused of this, there’s still a pretty clear difference between left and right on these questions.
Has he or she worked to hold accountable those who caused much of the current turmoil in the first place: in particular, the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? I support anyone who has made any credible efforts along those lines.
Has he or she supported or condemned Arizona’s efforts to make a dent in the scourge of illegal immigration in that state? Attorney General Holder’s recent admission that he had never read the bill–even after speaking strongly against it–is symptomatic of most opponents. I support Arizona both in their attempt to control their borders and in their warning that the federal government has been shirking its responsibilities. (Presumably the feds have been too busy expanding their power into things we don’t want them doing to bother with their primary responsibilities, including defending and protecting their citizens.)
One of my closest friends, who lives in Colorado, seems to subscribe to the view that we shouldn’t vote for any incumbent. I think a slightly more nuanced approach would be better.