My district has a fine Congressman in Mark Souder. He’s a true-blue genuine Christian, and he even attends a United Brethren church (Emmanuel Community, which I attended before Anchor started). I’ve been amazed at how refreshingly candid, non-talking-pointish, he is about what’s happening in Washington, even when his words are negative toward persons and causes which he, as a Republican, should champion. I trust him. I like him.
But I’m not voting for him this year. I won’t necessarily vote for his opponent, either. I just won’t vote to re-elect Mark Souder. There’s a principle involved which, on the one hand, can be labeled politically naive, but on the other hand could be labeled…well…principled.
I’m perturbed when blacks give a pass to the indiscretions of their leaders, such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and that crazy-lady congresswoman who doesn’t like metal detectors. I get perturbed when sports fans give a pass to the shenanigans of their favorite team or player. I get perturbed when society in general gives a pass to the charades of immoral Hollywood celebs. If we have some affinity for a person or team or cause, we look the other way. When actually, we should be holding our own to higher standards.
Republicans should carry the main responsibility for holding Republicans accountable. Thus my decision. Mark Souder entered Congress in 1994 as part of the “Contract with America” class which deified the idea of term limits. We were told they would serve three terms, then leave. And they would work for a Constitutional amendment to limit terms to 12 years max.
Well, Mark Souder served his three terms, then another three terms, and now he’s going for his seventh. So he’s already broken this “contract” with the American people of his district. He has two explanations.
- In 2000, his district was redistricted, so he was essentially running for election in a brand new district. And in that campaign, he made no promise about term limits. (For a majority of people in his district, like me, he’s been their Congressman since 1994.)
- He notes that Democracts don’t play by term limits rules, so if the Republicans left office after three terms, they would be giving away the huge advantage that incumbents have, Democrats would take over, and godlessness would reign.
I fully understand this incumbency issue. I also know Newt Gingrich and Company, being intelligent people, fully understood this consequence when they wrote the Contract with America. It’s a no-brainer. Of course this would give up the huge advantage that incumbents have. Heaven forbid that Republicans should lead by example and principle. I say: you should have counted the cost in 1994. If the cost would be too great to follow through on the Contract, then don’t put that provision in the Contract. By putting it in, knowing you wouldn’t follow through, you were merely playing cynical, manipulative games with the American people. With me. And I resent that.
And so, despite my enormously high regard for Mark Souder as a person, I will no longer vote for him. Out of principle. We need to have some Republicans who stand on principle regardless of costs. (A friend of mine, a staunch Republican, told me he wasn’t voting for Souder either, and for the same reasons, so it’s not like I’m an island of righteousness.)
Not that it will matter. Souder’s new district is pretty much a bullet-proof Republican district. He’ll get re-elected easily this year…and in 2008…and in 2010. And that’s probably good for both our district and the country. But promises are promises, and the term limits pledge is fully within his power to fulfill. So there, right or wrong, principled or (probably) stupid, I stand.3 Comments