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Dear Candidates - An Appeal for Principles   July 21st, 2011
Contrary to the beliefs of the ruling class (and Charlie Sheen), winning alone is not enough       

 
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Certainly politics is about winning elections. A candidate cannot influence public policy unless the candidate is elected. As such, the importance of winning cannot be ignored.

However, when winning becomes the reason for running the value of winning is significantly diminished--at least for the citizens that the candidate ultimately serves.

Too many candidates run for office not out of an interest in doing what's right, but for the sake of winning the office itself--either to wield power, for perceived prestige, a feeling of personal superiority, or in the worst cases for personal gain. Once-principled people are corrupted by power and, in new-found arrogance, they begin to look at their mission differently. It's no longer about advancing principles for the good of the country, but just winning the next election.

That same arrogance--and those same misplaced priorities--cause even Christians to engage in behavior that simply cannot be condoned under the beliefs of Christianity. It's as if they put their Christianity in one box and politics in another. And then they convince themselves that their Christian principles do not apply when they're playing in the garbage dump of politics. They cling to excuses such as "that's just politics" and "that's how you win" so it's supposed to be ok when they suspend their Christian beliefs in the political sphere. Perhaps these people think it's naive to apply Christian norms to political dealings, but I think it's naive to believe that God grants exceptions to His teachings in any part of our lives. Even politics. "Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

But I digress.

I'll acknowledge that it will probably be this way forever. As humans we are imperfect, and power corrupts. Politics is a dirty sport and power attracts too many of the wrong types of people. We're cynical about politicians because the nature of the game is such that the unethical and ruthless often succeed while the ethical and principled are usually successfully weeded out. We often gather the good people, show them the door as unelectable, and then elect the chaff to higher office.

Yet it's precisely these attitudes and motivations on the part of politicians that have left our country where it is today: Bankrupt (economically and morally), on the verge of economic collapse, and with a political class that is completely incapable of doing what virtually every family in America strives to do on a daily basis... limit its spending to revenue.

We elect the wrong people with the wrong motivations, weak principles, and questionable ethics, and then act shocked when politicians can't solve the very problems they created, or when they create brand new problems at the urging of special interests. Why should we be surprised that politicians cave to those special interests when they've already sacrificed their principles in the interest of "winning?" The always-coherent, always-principled, never-arrogant Charlie Sheen would be proud of their shared obsession of winning at the expense of everything else. "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? "

I'll grant that many of these individuals may rationalize their dealings by saying, "We have to win to advance our principles." But at what point does sacrificing principles to advance principles stop making sense? And can a person even be considered principled when they readily ignore their own ethics and sense of right and wrong for that next "win?"

To those who might read this article and think I'm awfully preachy given the fact that I, too, have my own personal faults, I admit I have shortcomings. I fail, and I fall short of what others expect of me... and of what I expect of myself. I welcome being called out and held to the same standards.

But to the extent I've tolerated less than ideal behavior in politics, that stops right now. I will not be silent. As a party officer I will not support or oppose any candidate or elected official, but I will hold them accountable when necessary--be it for their inconsistencies with Republican principles or for conduct unbecoming.

Our country is in trouble. We've been asleep at the wheel so long that those in the political ruling class set their own terms, write their own narrative, condone unethical behavior, don't solve problems, create new ones, collude with special interests, and ridicule "we the people" as naive when we consider the possibility of there being a better way.

We must find that better way. We're all responsible for the mess our politicians have created and the lack of ethics that abound because we elect them year after year. We must elect principled and ethical people that are running for office for honorable reasons: A sense of duty, patriotism, an attitude of humble and principled service to the community, and a true desire to fix what's broken.

If you're considering running for office and, in your own honest self-assessment, this doesn't describe you, please don't run. But if this does describe you and you aren't satisfied with the candidates otherwise available, please do. I beg you. The country needs you.

When you run, please don't sacrifice your principles, ethics, or personal decency along the way. We have enough politicians that do that already and, with all due respect, you're not going to help the country by doing the same thing.

What we need today is a new generation of candidates that win elections by staying true to their principles and ethics, not by sacrificing them.

If that's you, thank you, welcome, and game on!

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