Arthur Schaper: Politics: A Matter of the Heart
Friday, November 08, 2013
I was tempted to write “Politics Sucks”, too, but that would make things too easy, nor would it be informative, or even therapeutic at this rate.
A Stark Reality
Following the November 2013 election results here in California (many local election were up for grabs) and across the country (specifically Virginia and New Jersey), I have returned to a conclusion, which I attempted to hide in seclusion:
Politics by itself cannot change anything, and campaigning to win has become more hit and miss than ever. Convincing people on the issues and convicting people with reason alone does not work, either.
I was hoping for some strong conservative win in my district, for school board as well as for local city council races. Some of the candidates I stumped for ended up winning, and others did not. In my hometown, Torrance, four people ran for three school board seats. Two were elected incumbents, and the third was appointed (the previous member was elected to the state legislature).
My guy had the backing of every local Republican club and three major unions. Imagine that: a Republican who could scoop up support from Big Labor, yet who promised not to cave on his conservative credentials. He lost. What gives? Very troubling and sad.
I had written articles promoting the candidate. Two friends of mine put together two short commercials portraying his skills and accomplishments.
He lost. Barely seven thousand people voted. I bet those voters who bothered to show up just looked on the roster and selected the three names with “incumbent” listed next to them. *Sob*
The National Scene
Then I consider the national races.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (Crispy Crème or Guv Fatboy to detractors) took down a weak, also-ran state senator not because of his party credentials (a Republican in two-to-one Democratic New Jersey? Fuggehdaboutit!), and not because of his policy stances (he does govern like a moderate, but not on fiscal issues, most of the time).
People in New Jersey liked the man, the person, the big lug. They like that he stood by and helped them when Hurricane Irene then Superstorm Sandy thrashed the New Jersey boardwalk. They like that he talked tough and kicked butt. New Jerseyans voted for Obama twice, and they liked that their governor worked with the President.
He had also taken on some Democratic positions, like using taxpayer dollars to help dolphins, along with signing off on gun control legislation, none of which would have prevented the recent gun massacre at a New Jersey mall.
New Jersey really likes Christie, but whether they like him as a Presidential candidate two years from now. . .that’s another story.
It’s something heart-felt that makes all the difference, personal and spectacular, like a natural disaster, that can gather voters to jump for Candidate X or Y. In California, we have earthquakes, but politicians never can use them to their advantage.
Then I cut away to the Virginia gubernatorial race. Was it the money that dragged Terry McAuliffe over the finish line to eke out a three point win? Remember that for months McAuliffe polled at least ten to fifteen points ahead of Ken Cuccinelli.
Well, voters in general did not like Cuccinelli. The National Republican Party abandoned him after October, and libertarian-leaning Republicans do not like Republicans in general. Libertarian Robert Sarvis won 6.6%, almost all of which would have helped Cuccinelli.
Voters were not thinking, but feeling, and most of them did not even feel like voting. Apathy in general, and a stronger antipathy toward Cuccinelli, as opposed to the crony-capitalist liberal-loony mouthpiece former DNC Chairman McAuliffe helped the Dems win.
The most reasoned discourses, published across the country, did not break people from their identification with a political party, for example, nor did the best columns written in defense of the best positions or to expose the worst candidates.
The Heart of the Matter
Politics is all about heart.
Yet politics cannot change people’s hearts, but merely reveal what they believe.
Second President John Adams foresaw this modern dilemma:
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Moral and religious touches on identity, not persuasion, not reason.
It’s the heart of the matter: what people believe, the values they espouse, and the people who can stir them up. Such metrics may not measure up to great leaders, or good politics.
Former Congressman Ron Paul lamented his last days in office earlier this year, that his advocacy of libertarian principles did not liberate our national government from overspending and overreach.
I respond: Man’s greatest need is not liberty, but acceptance, where he can feel his heart beat best. As long as a political party meets this fundamental need, a position of “tax less, spend less,” is worthless.
Even now-deceased British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, consoling her Conservative peers after their third straight loss, counseled them to pay attention to people’s hearts.
People’ hearts, the reflection of who we are, with whom or with what we identify. Therein lies the heart of the matter.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.
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