“Brown’s Betrayal” Highlights Principle BattleFebruary 23, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Political | 12 Comments
by Walter Scott Hudson
This writer first became aware of Scott Brown crossing party lines to vote for Obama’s “jobs” bill when invited to join a Facebook group called “STOP Scott Brown!” The consensus of comments on the page concluded Brown had betrayed his declared principles by voting for what is widely regarded as another stimulus bill.
AllahPundit of HotAir offers an alternative perspective:
Well, look. Obviously he needs to signal the left-leaning indies back home who voted for him that he’ll break their way sometimes. Even armed with a huge war chest for 2012, he ain’t getting reelected as a party-line Republican.
A follow-up comment from a reader expounded upon this point:
The notion that every vote has to be “NO,” even if constiuents want the bill, is the same type of thinking that I see coming from Dems. They are pushing Dems who represent much more conservative voters into backing bills that their own constituents hate.
It’s partisanship to the max, and the public doesn’t respect that. The public is OUT OF PATIENCE with excessive partisanship, people.
These are appeals to political strategy, rather than principle. It is certainly true Brown represents “left-leaning indies.” Massachusetts has not become red or even purple overnight. It is sensible to concede the premise Brown’s constituents want the “jobs” bill. This raises the question: should constituent will dictate every vote?
The American statesman ought to follow three hierarchical criteria when considering legislation. The first and most supreme is the Constitution of the United States. If the Constitution does not allow for a measure, no amount of constituent will justifies a yes-vote. This is indicative of the “rule of law” which distinguishes a republic from a democracy. The second criteria is the “general welfare,” not as broadly interpreted by progressives in either political party, but as intended by the founders. One good measure of whether a bill promotes the general welfare is whether its benefit is universal to all constituents, rather than beneficial to some at the expense of others. Any redistributive measure, such as the stimulus bills of 2008, 2009, and now 2010, do not pass muster. Only when these first two criteria have been met does constituent will become the driving force.
This idea that constituents are properly served by giving them whatever they want flies in the face of the principles fueling the conservative resurgence. If your district’s constituents overwhelmingly want your property, that does not provide sufficient legal justification for its seizure. This is true whether the property is real estate or mere tax dollars.
The public may be out of patience with excessive partisanship. But the above argument for Brown, considered along a long enough time line, actually manifests partisan politics rather than dispense with it. Brown aims to “keep the seat red” in 2012 by throwing lefties a bone. Is that not a partisan effort? Is that not a move to benefit the party, principle be damned? In truth, the only way to dispense with partisan politics is to stop viewing the game as a partisan effort. If politicians on both sides of the aisle began to base their judgments on consistent principles, which party they belonged to would matter significantly less. This is arguably the demand of the Tea Party movement, which has successfully defended its honor in recent weeks from a number of GOP suitors. The public is out of patience with excessive partisanship, especially when it is disguised as benevolent constituent service or a reach across the aisle. The people want principled leadership.