The premise of Thinking Man’s Politics is that we should think when we look at issues or topics in society and politics. If we do, we put principles over a person, and we put ideas over popular trends. And let us be candid, if our ‘principles’ change depending on the person or party involved, they are not ‘principles’ but slight preferences.
In this author’s view, there are two primary problems in our political and social discourse: one being the habit of ignoring anything negative if it’s “our guy” and ignoring anything positive if it’s “the other side’s guy” and the second is the desire to win at any cost and, often, no matter how big or small the issue (in other words, the mindset that the end justifies the means). Both are destructive to our politics and, more basically, to our social fabric. They are not new, but seem to be taken to more extremes these days and in times past.
Conservative Republicans have several recent examples, but two that stick out that will inevitably come back to be used against them in ways that will likely be much more significant.
The first one is Texas Attorney General Ted Paxton. Paxton is the best friend that liberal Democrats have because he is so obviously, and often ridiculously, partisan. Paxton has tossed away any pretense of character and doing what is best for the country just so that he can ‘win’ and get what we wants to be done. Paxton, you may recall, filed a lawsuit against other states about their own election laws because the Republican candidate did not win in those other states (the Supreme Court decided what normal people knew anyway, that the suit was baseless and without any merit and they refused even to hear it). More recently, in an effort to limit abortion, Paxton drafted a law (which was eventually passed) that was designed to get around restrictions on how government could limit abortion, by making abortion laws enforceable, not by the government, but by individual citizens and would reward people for turning in violators. Thus, the hope was to eliminate restrictions on government by saying the government was not involved in enforcement.
Now, Thinking Man believes that if you can detect a heartbeat and brainwaves, it is a human life. So if there ever was an issue of importance, it is protecting human life and, in this case, doing so by limiting abortion. However, the ends do not justify the means. Paxton and Texas are not only on dangerous ground (and also likely have a law that will eventually be overturned by the Court) but are setting a bad precedent with very dangerous implications and deliberately pitting neighbor against neighbor. That is not just the opinion of wild-eyed liberals or pro-abortion lobbyists. Even a long-standing conservative leaning media outlet such as the Wall Street Journal, published a strongly worded editorial last month castigating Paxton and the Texas law as a “blunder” and dangerous.
First, do we really want the government to give power to places and people other than the government? Imagine the lawsuits if someone tries to enforce a law against a neighbor and the government is not allowed to step in to settle it-the mind is just boggled at the thought. Secondly, imagine the precedent. What if we said, for example, we will just have random people enforce gun laws or, to use the example of the latest controversy, vaccination laws. Overall, it is just a very poor and destructive idea and Paxton is known for these. He is dangerous to the country and should be roundly condemned by Republicans.
The other example is also from Texas, US Sen. Ted Cruz (R)). Cruz has personally caused US Ambassador jobs to be left open around the world. Cruz was upset when the Administration loosened restrictions so that Europe could contract with Russia to build a natural gas pipeline. Personally, Thinking Man happens to agree on that point. Russia is a dangerous enemy and we should not make it easy to rely on them for the majority of energy needs.
To make his point, Cruz has personally stalled President Biden’s nomination for almost every Ambassador post in the world Ambassador nominations have historically been non-controversial and a President’s nominee usually goes through a Senate hearing and then is confirmed unless ethical or financial issues are uncovered. Cruz has used Senate rules to block that process and to require every nominee to go through a long and intensive process and thus delayed every nomination. Why? Because he did not get his way on a totally unrelated matter. And on a matter that, if we think about it, really concerns Europeans much more than us.
The issue is not one that most people would put at the top of the priority list, but Cruz has put every single Ambassador job in the world on hold until he gets his way. American interests are damaged over an issue that most people do not really care much about. Win at any cost, no matter who small or large the issue, and the ends justify the means to Cruz.
I am not sure how the cycle ends, as it does not take much of an imagination to realize that “the other side” will feel it’s time to get even and use the same tactics when the tables turn as they inevitably do. One would hope that our leaders would actually be looking out for the good of the country. But as citizens, it ultimately on us because we refuse to require that our leaders have the character needed to put the country ahead of themselves.