Politics tend to organize around point of view although sometimes it is as simple as following your parents lead or the urging of one’s local culture or peers. And, at times it gets uncomfortably tribal.
I was born and raised in Southern Missouri and most of the voters were of the Democratic persuasion. My Dad’s first Republican vote was for Dwight Eisenhower when he ran against Adlai Stevenson for a second term. Dad’s ancestors were southern Democrats.
My Mom’s ancestors had fought for the Union; they were Lincoln Republicans. I took Mom’s lead and in Missouri in the 1960s and 70s the Republicans were the reformers. I managed a campaign for Kit Bond who was elected Governor and his youth organization distributed Bond/McGovern campaign buttons to capture the youthful spirit of reform.
Mostly since, I have identified as a Republican and served in both the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush. I could not in good faith have continued that loyalty without believing in principles of fiscal stewardship, decentralized government and a range of other more conservative principles. And, I look forward to voting for Governor Hogan.
As I look at the Republican Party today however, it is far different from the one I opted for in the 1960s. Its positions on guns and environmental issues are rigid and often anything but conservative. Since when did it become conservative to favor the right to bear AK 47s and the like? Advanced weaponry in the hands of disturbed individuals is suicidal.
Candidates are important too and especially in this hyperpolarized culture. Eisenhower earned my Dad’s first switch of Party loyalty. We can all look back at Eisenhower’s eight years of service and appreciate that he didn’t always toe the Party line. In fact, he defeated Robert Taft for the Republican nomination; Taft was the favorite of the regulars.
So let me cut to the chase. This year I will for the first time vote for the other Party’s congressional candidate, Jesse Colvin. I will do so knowing that at times he, if elected, will choose to vote in ways I would not favor.
My conclusion is simple. It is important that the Republican Party receive a message that falling in behind President Trump, regardless of the quality of his decision making or the temperament of his leadership, is not to be rewarded.
I also believe that the incumbent Andy Harris, a doctor himself, has yielded to politics rather than science on a number of environmental issues. And in my view conserving the environment is a first order principle of conservatism.
Harris also is comfortable with “hell no” regardless of how that stance ultimately undermines Congressional prerogatives and obligations. Compromise can be unseemly, but when it comes to fiscal affairs it is essential. We live in an age of last minute omnibus appropriations; both Parties are complicit in undermining our Nation’s economic strength.
Let me close with a comment about Jesse. Jesse and I enjoy several mutual friendships which led to our getting together several times. My main experience with politicians is listening. They come to a meeting with a script and want you to follow their lead.
Jesse asked questions. He listened. And his wife Jordan, mother of their first child, Coleman, once worked for Republican US Senator Tom Coburn who was one of those Senators who was principled first and orthodox second. I could hope for no more from Jesse!
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.