I just got off the phone with a good friend of mine who serves on the Planning Commission of a city in Northern California. He was telling me about a recent city council meeting where he spoke up just before a vote on an issue which would have, for the sake of redevelopment, spent unnecessary funds. The money being spent was from bonds, first of all, making it deficit spending. Secondly, it was going to be spent in a way that could be spent otherwise for much less, and yet still accomplish the same thing. My friend’s suggestion would save the city ten million dollars.
As a result of my friends comments, the vote was delayed, as citizens became frustrated with the city council’s plans, and voiced that frustration at the meeting.
After the meeting, the city manager and the city attorney talked to my friend to relay their disapproval, and also to tell him, “You know, saying such things may not make you look very good as a member of the planning commission.”
I told my friend, after he was finished relaying the entire story to me, “If I’ve learned anything being involved locally with my own city council, and years ago as the parlimentarian of the PTA, it is that as bad as the bureaucrats are in Washington, often at the local level it is worse. That’s why one of the strategies we must use in ‘taking back our country’ is to also replace the cockroaches with the right people locally, as well. What is most striking to me about your tale, however, is the fact that the city manager and city attorney came to you telling you your words could make you look bad as a member of the planning commission. Notice that doing the right thing is not what is important to people like that. Their primary concern is how they think they look to other members of their little group of the political elite. Forget political popularity. What is important is doing the right thing.”
We hear the same kind of stories out of Washington. When the Tea Party candidates took office in Congress after the 2010 election, the Republican Establishment took them aside and said something along the lines of, “Okay, great, you guys are idealists and ran on principles that were popular with the voters, but if you want to ever move up here in Washington, or if you wish to get re-elected in the future, you will vote as the party tells you to.”
Buzzzz, wrong answer.
This is why the people love the Tea Party candidates so much. They have, for the most part, stuck to their ideals, stuck to their resolve, and have not fallen prey to the idea that the party knows best. The informed voter expects their representatives to put principles before party, and principles before political popularity.
I laugh when liberals hammer me because a republican did something. I don’t care who sponsors a bill, or votes in a certain way, in the sense of what party they belong to. The party they represent is not going to be a part of my decision-making process when it comes to agreeing or disagreeing with what the representative did, or how they voted. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, regardless of party. That is why many conservatives have trouble with people who are nothing more than party hacks. This kind of politician may come across as intelligent, and may say the right things when they need to, but party-before-principles-politicians have proven time and time again that when the chips are down, they are party hacks that will put party before principles every time.
My friend was not shaken by the words of the city manager and city attorney.
“If I am not on the planning commission in a couple years, that is fine. At least I know I did the right thing when it counted,” my friend told me.
Such is one of the differences between a statesman, and a politician.