We’re reminded, “Politics is a full contact sport.” To the average citizen in Wyoming, or elsewhere, there’s a clear, precipitous decline in public confidence in organized and institutionalized structures of government, except unprincipled D.C. Beltway politicians and lobbyists, driven by careerists impulses. One of the obstacles we face is the question of “What is the purpose of politics?” Some reply, “None whatsoever!” We intuitively know that Congress is absolutely feckless. Polls support that intuition. That mood of dismay and frustration is, in part, due to years of over expectation that politicians would “solve our problems.” Ronald Reagan was right, “Government is the problem.” Soaring rhetoric from an Illinois Senator “bamboozled” an election cycle of voters. They came back for more. What price did they pay for their vote? The “bill” is “past due.” Who can pay it? What have we learned?
The “Trump phenomena” has a range of pundits venturing into a deep quagmire to answer why he is still leading all the polls. He reminds us he doesn’t need anyone’s money. That’s disarmingly new. We momentarily drop our guard and loosen the grip on our wallet. Disenchantment is nothing new. The grandiose dreams engendered in the Kennedy years on the New Frontier, and the subsequent Great Society ruse of Lyndon Johnson, where the hopes and aspirations to the public soared, which simply couldn’t be fulfilled through political action. The higher the hopes, the greater the descent. About the time we acknowledge, we “don’t need any of the scoundrels,” a candidate surfaces, who woo us into to dropping our guard. Why are evangelicals, according to the polls, lining up behind Trump? Some are skeptical of his yet to be discovered Biblical views on a range of social issues. His recent conversion to “pro-life,” summoning the ghost of Reagan’s shift, as his rationale, has roiled some pro-life skeptics. GOP women solidly support Trump. Are they nauseated by “establishment politicians” too? They believe he’d fight for issues they behold.
Is this the year of the “political outsider” in the GOP race? It appears the more voters hear from Dr. Ben Carson, the higher he rises in the polls, as the quintessential “anti-Trump” version, a soft spoken, cerebral, retired pediatric neurosurgeon. Trump has proven to be an “equal opportunity” offender, caustically assailing nearly every candidate, and pundits, including George Will and Karl Rove. Carly Fiorina’s ascent in the polls has secured a spot in the next CNN, GOP debate. No political “wall flower,” she’s not coy about crossing swords with Trump. Many Americans who “dropped out” of prior voting cycles, convinced they didn’t need politics, realized that, for good or ill, liberty and obligation are indissolubly linked. Even Robinson Crusoe’s autonomy acknowledged he wasn’t self-sufficient. We can’t avoid political and social obligations.
Some observers think Trump’s appeal is the co-mingling of a P.T. Barnum and Norman Vincent Peale persona. Is it his straightforward, non PC language, sans teleprompter, stinging anyone who gets in his way approach? Carson’s substantial intellect disarms even his critics. Bush the “big bundler” has slipped rapidly, much to the chagrin of the “establishment GOP” who’s still “clueless in D.C.” McCain and his ilk are convinced this is a subversive influence, they formerly blamed on Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Trump and Carson were the rare outliers who refused to join the pilgrimage to Utah, to “kiss the ring” of Mitt Romney. Ted Cruz has employed a strategy of finding common ground with Trump, as co-belligerents of the much aligned Iran Deal.
A great cultural gulf that haunts our Republic is the religious and secular divide. Our Judeo-Christian heritage has for nearly 240 years, served as a lynch-pin, holding this experiment together. Recent rulings by federal courts, and “Black Robes” on the Supreme Court, have interpreted tolerance to mean “anything but traditional values.” Absolutes are usurped by relativism. G.K. Chesterton warned, “The trouble when people stop believing in God is not that they thereafter believe in nothing, it is that thereafter believe in anything.” In the midst of this hostility for issues such as traditional marriage between a man and woman, engaged voters are looking for a candidate that will not only bring economic prosperity, but support former moral foundations that have been jettisoned by the courts. It’s hastened some to express that if we could close down the Supreme Court, and make it a great cathedral, or mausoleum, we’d be better-off.
In such times, we yearn for a “statesman” who’ll champion the interest of the citizenry, not political calculations, benefiting career politicians. Stephen Tonsor, wrote, “One way in which the state can limit its actions to those which benefit the society as a whole is to refuse any actions which can be performed by other institutions or groups within society.” Few of us have been offered an outright bribe-money for our vote. It’s much more subtle. More like, “What liberties would you be willing to voluntarily, temporarily surrender, for security heretofore unknown, enhancing your existence?” What price are we willing to pay to deliver us from this evil? Quick fixes and vacuous campaign slogans? We need a candidate who understands John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Some evangelicals whisper, “Give us constitutionally, fiscally sound, law-and-order leadership; it’s our job to fix the moral compass.” Can any of the GOP hopefuls reverse the palpable disregard for the US Constitution? We’d do well to recall that “campaign rhetoric” rarely matches governance policy. Is there an “exit ramp” off this “freeway to constitutional suicide?” We must discipline ourselves to resist selling our vote for a bowl of “political porridge.“ No more political poltroons, who routinely govern in a way that’s inimical to our best interest. Let’s skip the serendipitous approach to elections. There’s a way back. The road is long and arduous. Polls never vote. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org