Thursday, January 23, 2014

The McDonnell Scandal- Lessons In Morality The GOP Must Learn

The recent scandal of former Virginia Governor McDonnell and his wife allegedly receiving bribes has made me ponder the state in which the GOP currently finds itself. As I have pondered the scandal of which we are only just now learning some of the more damning details, my thoughts have brought me to some conclusions about the state of the GOP and some of the causes.

For many years conservatives, Christians, fundamental Catholics and various other Values Voter blocks have appeared to equate 'Republican' with 'good' and 'Democrat' with 'bad'.

It is quite true that the Democrats have honestly earned and richly deserve their reputation as the Party of Death, Debauchery, and anti-Americanism- or, you could say 'bad'. If one pays even scant attention, this truth cannot be reasonably denied. There is little debate among conservatives as a whole about this matter.

A remarkable and concerning transformation in recent years however, is the Leftward Lurch by the former Party of Reagan. Much of the blame for this can be laid at the feet of the Bush Machine, who have sought, since Reagan left office, to purge the party of conservative influence, at least to the extent that conservatives and Values Voters will play a role no more prominent than that of showing up to vote for the latest Republican nominee put forth by the power brokers in DC or in our case, Richmond.

Republicans could previously count on the support of the vast majority of Values Voters, due to several factors, not the least of which was the perception that the GOP was morally sound and the Democrats are not- which is certainly true in the case of the latter.

Yet, as the GOP began to relegate Values Voters further to the sidelines in each election cycle, promising great advances to our agenda in each election, only to advance quite the opposite in a bolder and bolder display of wanton patronization of the Values electorate, we began to see quite a different picture of the GOP than the one so well displayed and lived by President Reagan. Yet, we continued to remind ourselves that, regardless our treatment at the hands of the GOP, they at least were pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-Rule of Law, and pro-Christian, and were at least reasonably moral as whole- unlike the democrats. After all, it was a Democrat, Bill Clinton, who personified immorality in politics. Republicans just didn't do things like that...we told ourselves.

Then began a long string of GOP officials embroiling themselves in scandal after scandal. David Vitter ran for U.S Senate as the family values candidate, only to get caught hiring Madame services in D.C.;  Larry Craig, GOP U.S Senator, got busted making sexually suggestive gestures to other male occupants of an airport bathroom; Newt Gingrich and the GOP-controlled House impeached Bill Clinton for perjuring himself over his affair with a White House intern, only to discover that the married Newt was sampling some of his own forbidden fruit on the sly;

I've pulled just a few more examples from Wikipedia just to make the point:

Thad Viers (R) the three term South Carolina state representative withdrew as a candidate for the US Congress in January 2012 after he had been arrested on charges of harassing a 28 year old woman described as an ex-girlfriend.

Chris Lee, Representative (R-NY) Resigned hours after a news report that the married Congressman had sent a shirtless picture of himself flexing his muscles to a woman via Craigslist, along with flirtatious emails

Mark Souder, (R-IN) a staunch advocate of abstinence and family values,[15][16] resigned to avoid an ethics investigation into his admitted extramarital affair with a female staffer. Famously, he and she had made a public video in which they both extolled the virtues of sexual abstinence

Mark Sanford (R): While governor of South Carolina he told his wife he was hiking the Appalachian Mountains while he actually traveled to Argentina to visit his mistress

John Ensign Senator (R-NV) Resigned his position as Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee on June 16, 2009, after admitting he had an affair with the wife of a close friend, both of whom were working on his campaign.[30] Under investigation, he then resigned his seat in Congress 20 months early. (2011) [31] In 1998, Senator Ensign had called for President Bill Clinton (D) to resign after admitting to sexual acts with Monica Lewinsky. (2009)  

More recently, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and/or his staff ( details not all known as yet), were busted for allegedly causing traffic tie-ups in Newark by closing some lanes of the George Washington bridge as punishment for a political opponent.

( I could continue with the examples, but I think the point is sufficiently made)

Long ago, under George Bush and subsequent moderate Party leadership, the GOP had clearly left Reagan's strong conservative stance on a host of issues, including but not limited to; Immigration, abortion, traditional marriage, taxes, size and scope of government, to name a few. Conservatives at least could still count on the GOP to raise a standard of public morality to some extent. Then came many of the afore-mentioned scandals.

All of which brings me full circle back to Bob McDonnell.
McDonnell started his political career as a graduate of the conservative Regent University, becoming known as one the most conservative members of the House of Delegates in Virginia. Certain red flags began to appear, such as his support for One Gun a Month, but were mostly overlooked by Virginia conservatives as a rare mistake by McDonnell, though a few of my close associates did sound the alarm and were largely ignored at the time. Political disagreements aside, I do not recall the moral character of the McDonnells ever coming into public question. Politically, however, Bob's descent began, and with it, his reputation as a staunch conservative.

McDonnell ascended to the position of Virginia Attorney-General, decided to support a viciously unconstitutional bill that was, in essence, taxation without representation, which was ultimately thrown out by the Virginia Supreme Court as exactly that, but his personal moral character still was never publicly in question; we had that to hang our hats on. Then, after a little harmless wheeling and dealing with Lieutenant-Governor Bolling, Bob ran unopposed for the GOP nomination for Governor and won a resounding victory over his Democrat opponent in the height of ObamaCare's unpopularity right after the bill was passed in 2009.

McDonnell continued his descent into the political abyss with his only piece of notable legislative accomplishment- the largest tax increase in the history of Virginia, larger than any Democrat governor before had even requested, much less received from the General Assembly. Under the guise of fixing roads in Northern Virginia, the "conservative" Republican governor set a new standard for selling out his own base with this inexplicable and unconscionable assault on Virginia taxpayers.....yet, his personal moral character was never in public question

But Bob fell- long and hard. We still don't know the full extent of the alleged questionable/illegal activities of the McDonnells, but the landscape doesn't look very good- it appears the personal character of McDonnell should have been questioned long ago by Virginia conservatives who so often overlook 98 political and moral deficiencies in our candidates, if we can only find one or two hooks upon which to hang our hats. But, as is often the case, the actions of a politician seldom affect only himself negatively, as is also true of the political foolishness of those of my fellow conservatives that allows them to somehow put blinders on and create heroes of their elected officals, overlooking obvious red flags, as was the case for far too long with the McDonnells. Subsequently, Ken Cuccinelli and the GOP ticket were brought down this past fall due in large part to the scandal of the McDonnells and the refusal by many in GOP leadership to support Ken's traditional conservative agenda and his candidacy.

After all the back-stabbing by the Virginia GOP establishment, a lack-luster attempt by the Cuccinelli campaign and tens of millions of dollars worth of vicious and false negative ads against Cuccinelli by the McAulliffe campaign, chances are good that Cuccinelli would still have prevailed, were it not for the disgusting taste for the GOP left in the mouths of voters by McDonnell's alleged antics. While legally, McDonnell is certainly entitled to the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty and no one should jump to conclusions without complete information, there are very clear lessons to be learned from this latest episode of GOP hand-in-the-cookie-jar.

CONCLUSION: The GOP as a whole, with some notable and laudable individual exceptions, is debauched, dishonest, and wholly without moral bearings or moorings. As a result Values Voters, having finally noticed, have left in droves as polls indicate for the last several election cycles nationally as well as here in Virginia. Without them, the Party that now stands mostly as nothing more than the Party that isn't 'Democrat' clearly cannot win very often.

Lessons to be learned by the GOP-
1. When fielding candidates for office who actively seek the vote of Values Voters by purporting to a be Values Voter, be careful to choose ones who don't break the law, cheat on their wife, use their office to punish political foes or accept bribes, etc.

2. If you are going to field candidate of questionable moral character, you may wanna at least consider throwing us a few bones on issues of at least minimal importance- you know, little things like protecting, preserving and defending the Constitution you took an oath to protect, preserve and defend. Or perhaps, forcing those who have broken the law to come here illegally to live by the same legal constraints that I, as a law-abiding citizen must observe. Or, by refusing to elevate sodomy and homosexual lust to the same moral and legal standing as traditional marriage; Or by ceasing to raise taxes even higher than your democrat predecessor.

Lessons to be learned by the base of the GOP:
1. Stop making heroes and God-like figures of your nominees and elected officials; they are no more divine than you or I. They fail, lie, make bad decisions, and can be arrogant and power hungry, just like you or I could be.

2. Get involved in the process of nominating Republican candidates for public office; I did NOT say 'become a republican'; in Virginia, you can be involved in the nominating conventions and primaries without a shred of long-term commitment to the GOP as it regards officially becoming a member, should you not desire to do so.

3. For you committed Repubicans: As long as the GOP can rely on you to go vote for whomever the nominee is- no matter how liberal he/she may be; no matter how badly they lied to you during the campaign, or abused their power while in office- this WILL continue, and IF we are not willing to hold them  accountable and they know it, why would it not?

Think long and hard about human nature and let's not make these same mistakes yet again.

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"Government is not the solution to our problem.Government is the problem."
Ronald Reagan, first Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981