Once again we voters are peppered mercilessly via our television, radio and mail box to support candidates who deserve our votes because they love the Lord, love the Constitution and love the military.
They pander to these superficial and emotional symbols because we voters often reward intellectually shallow supplication with our Pavlovian votes. In terms of disrespecting the system, conservatives and their symbology are no better or worse than the well-intended compassion of liberal politicians who clamor on about global warming, saving the children and nailing those evil free-trading capitalists.
But as it is that we don’t have a large gaggle of pandering liberals in our key local and state political races, let’s talk about the pandering conservatives.
The overview in this essay is elementary, really; politics 101, and the essay risks insulting the intelligence of many Kind Readers. The electoral pandering, however, continues to blanket this region like August humidity. So let’s consider why we should look beyond religion, military and a Constitutional love-fest when analyzing candidates.
Several of the political mailers suggest Candidate ABC has attended the Church of Good and Decent People for years and is a Sunday School teacher. That’s nice you have strong Christian values, but so what? Jim Jones had strong Christian values. So did Torquemada. So did Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. As did many of the early KKK leaders.
We’re not electing preachers and missionaries. We’re electing folks who may hopefully prove to be leaders in Little Rock and D.C.
Then there are candidates who go out of their way to remind us of their military background. One candidate has a colonel insignia on signs and literature. Another candidate wants his nickname to be “Colonel” so it will appear on the ballot.
As a former enlisted member of the U.S. Navy, I’m sincerely appreciative of folks who serve in the military. It can be a huge sacrifice to serve, and the pay rarely covers the hard work and time away from family.
The military taught me that not all service members are created equal. I served with and around officers who I wouldn’t let mow my yard much less have my vote. Remember, Jimmy Carter was a military officer. One of the most corrupt presidential administrations in U.S. history was that of Ulysses S. Grant, the hero general of the Civil War. Other folks with military service include Timothy McVeigh and Lee Harvey Oswald.
Then there is this fervent call to return our country to what the Founding Fathers prescribed via the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Let’s be careful with that. John Adams was a Founding Father and he brought us the Sedition Act — a nasty little freedom limiting thing that was.
And if adhering to the prescription of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and others, how do you plan to tell your your wife or daughter or sister or mom they shouldn’t have the right to vote? Or maybe you’d prefer to have the Bureau of Indian Affairs inform folks that the Founding Fathers were right and that “Indians not taxed” can’t vote.
And, for those of you who seek a return to the minimalist federal government some say is required by the Constitution, who is in charge of destroying the national interstate system? Where would you put all that steel and concrete? Who wants to be the first to grab a jackhammer and wetsuit and head down to Trimble Lock and Dam in Fort Smith to put an end to the federal waterway?
Before you conservatives swallow your brotherly love and beat me about the head and shoulders with your dog-eared booklet about the Constitution, please know that religion, military and support for the Constitution are important things. Well, maybe not so much religion, considering how folks of all countries have used dogma to pervert the original message. But church, military and worship of the Founding Fathers are merely introductions; resume items requiring further analysis of the candidate.
Joe may be a great Sunday School teacher, but is he really going to work with folks in Little Rock to push through dog-eat-dog politics and build relationships that protect, preserve and/or promote the socio-economic interests of the Fort Smith area? Amber may agree with your liberal views on all the topics discussed at your monthly Prius owners meeting, but is she able to work through dog-eat-dog politics and build relationships that protect, preserve and/or promote our socio-economic interests?
The Fort Smith region has a lot of potential. The best way to threaten or reduce that potential is to send folks to Little Rock or Washington based simply on church or military background. This is especially true with the senators and representatives we send to Little Rock. We need informed and effective leaders more interested in working with others to make things happen than in merely casting a series of “No” votes.
Asking someone to vote for you because you love God and country and served in the military is like telling an NFL coach you should be quarterback because you were once a high school quarterback, are a devotee of Vince Lombardi and keep the latest rules and regs in a binder next to your night stand. He’ll probably appreciate the sentiment and the passion, but knows you’ll get killed on the field.
When you vote in the May 18 primary, please know that the Fort Smith region has a recent history of getting killed on the legislative field.