I hear it every election year from friends and family, “I look at the issues and candidates and always vote for the best person regardless of party.” Sometimes, it is said matter-of-factly, sometimes it is said condescendingly but it is always said sincerely.
The implication is that only the naive or uninformed vote straight ticket. Nothing could be further from the truth. In nearly every election, I have had the opportunity to talk to my party’s candidate for every office from county supervisor to president. Typically I know where they stand on all of the issues I care about.
I hear this from both liberals and conservatives. Many of my conservative friends say that the lesser of two evils is still evil. I am sometimes asked whether I support principle over party or party over principle.
I am sure that I will be accused by some of being an unprincipled party shill. But let me state it as clearly as I possibly can:
Politics is a team sport, and it is precisely because I support principles over party, that I vote a straight Republican ticket every time.
You may ask, “Doesn’t that mean that sometimes, you end up voting for politicians with whom you have significant ideological differences?” My answer is yes. I live in Cedar Rapids and with re-districting we have been part of both Iowa’s first and second congressional districts. So, Over the course of several general election I have found myself casting a ballot for Jim Leach. Leach was a moderate republican in the US House and he and I would differ significantly on a number of key issues from Life to the Second Amendment. So, why did I vote compromise my principles and vote for Leach?
The answer is that politics is a team sport. Say for example, Leach had a conservative Democrat challenger, on who agreed with me on these key issues (I am not sure such a Democrat exists … but I digress). If I had voted for that Democrat and they were to win, my congressional district would have a much more conservative voice in Washington. The problem is that even a conservative Democrat (when they are in the majority) votes for a liberal Democrat Speaker of the House. Unfortunately in our current system, the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate have tremendous power in setting the agendas for their respective chambers and can unilaterally prevent legislation form even being considered.
To put it in simple terms, voting for a pro-life Democrat (is there such a thing) over a pro-abortion Repiblican (unfortunately there is such a thing) for Iowa Senate, does nothing for personhood if Mike Gronstal remains the Majority leader in the Iowa Senate.
In order to be effective in today’s political climate, a party must hold the majority. I have chosen to align myself with the party that most closely aligns with the majority of positions I hold dear. I am not so naive to believe that everyone in my party agrees with me. But I know that almost no one in the other major party agrees with me on anything.
I currently serve on the Republican State Central Committee, essentially the Board of Directors of the Republican Party of Iowa. In 2012, I ran an unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the Republican national Committee. I am a Republican, I vote a straight Republican ticket — because I believe that it is the best chance in today’s system to effect the changes that I believe are crucial to our nation. Even if it means that (like Jesse Benton) I have to hold my nose sometime.
Of course, if you are a Democrat, please continue to vote for some of my guys from time to time 🙂