Learning from my mistakes, in more ways than one
I was wrong. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, as I received several e-mails stating that Fox News Channel and other news outlets reported last night that some Senate Republicans did, in fact, vote in favor of President Barack Obama’s bloated federal budget. In reality, however, all GOP senators voted against the budget and were joined by one Democrat, Sen. Evan Bayh. All should be commended for doing the right thing.
My journey toward destroying whatever credibility I’ve developed and maintained started at the OpenCongress.org roll call site, one of my personal favorites when it comes down to votes and trends and congressional issues. Obviously, whatever route I took on that excellent Web site was the wrong one; furthermore, all efforts today to recreate what I did early this morning were in vain.
Nevertheless, I think there’s a lesson to be learned in all of this, even beyond the embarrassing lesson I personally learned today. When I saw the list of 17 Republican senators, the very first names I set eyes upon were those of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter and Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the same three Republicans who abandoned fiscal responsibility and recently broke rank to facilitate the passage of Barack Obama’s gargantuan “stimulus” plan. Seeing those names, unfortunately, was enough to make me believe the list was accurate.
The list also contained, however, a few solid conservatives such as Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Johanns and more. When I saw those names, I found myself disappointed but not surprised — and I think that lack of surprise says something.
Why should we be surprised at anything our elected officials do? After all, spendthrift Republicans are also responsible for the dramatic growth in deficit and government alike we’ve seen over the past two years. And, as much as I contend that Republicans murdered our economy but Democrats have gone on a killing spree, it’s obvious that even now we have not learned from our previous mistakes. If we had, what in the world were 84 Republicans, along with conservative Rep. Eric Cantor, thinking when they voted for the confiscatory tax hike on executive bonuses?
My mistake was my mistake. I admit it. I’m embarrassed by it. However, the more and more I think about it, my mistake today was also an indictment of just how much work is left for the GOP before it restores the trust of right-thinking American people.
Think about it. I know most of these people, perhaps not personally but certainly from their voting trends, their public addresses, their responses to detrimental actions taken by Democrats. I know what to expect from Sens. Lindsey Graham, Sam Brownback and others. Yet, confronted with a list that, in all good faith, I believed to be connected with the budget vote, I felt confident enough that these people had for some reason abrogated their duty to represent their constituents and voted in favor of the budget. My mistake was an indictment of my failure to double-check information — but what does that honest, good faith error say about how well our elected officials stick with principle?
The “nothing surprises me anymore” attitude held by myself and others, I think, is indicative of how so many on Capitol Hill lack the testicular fortitude to stick with principles. Some do, of course — after all, I know where Chuck Schumer is going to stand on pretty much any given issue. Same with Jim DeMint. I know where Nancy Pelosi is going to come down, much in the same way I know how John Shadegg will vote.
In fact, I don’t care what side you’re on — I want principles. I don’t want the Arlen Specter approach, waiting until you’re lobbied heavily one way or another to make a decision. Especially on the bigger issues. I don’t want suspense. Yes, I may like how he came down against the Employee Free Choice Act, but I don’t care for the musical chairs fashion in which he made his decision. I don’t want to wait for the lobbying to stop before knowing which chair my elected representative sits down on.
The concept of “no surprises” is an essential part of a representative republic, at least with regard to the bigger issues. I vote Republican [now] because I understand the value of a smaller government, because I feel as though I can spend my money better than the government can, because I don’t want to worry about a Jihadist blowing up my local Starbucks, because I want qualified judges on the bench who base their decisions on the United States Constitution.
Outright lying is the worst. I think that’s why I’m disappointed in Bush, but not in Obama. I may be appalled by Obama’s agenda and performance, but I never believed his promises for transparency and fiscal responsibility and middle class tax cuts in the first place. With regard to former President George W. Bush, this compassionate conservative, I was disappointed to see the total lack of commitment to border security and the complete and utter abandonment of free market principles in the face of economic hardship.
Yes, I made a mistake today. I’ve called the offices of each of the 17 senators and apologized as personally I could to staff, to press secretaries, to anybody who would listen. I feel awful about screwing up in such an obvious manner, and I truly am sorry for any trouble I’ve caused for them or for anybody else.
Obviously, I should have double-checked when I saw a list of 17 Republicans who voted in favor of President Obama’s budget. That I didn’t, however, says something. We elect our congressmen and senators for a reason, and should be so confident in their principles and values that we should generally know ahead of time how they’ll come down on the bigger issues. A single, solitary Republican on the “yea” list with regard to this issue should have set off any number of red flags — that 17 Republicans caused no such red flag is a problem.