Thursday, September 18, 2008

What does voting mean?

Or, upon what basis do we choose someone for political office?

Mr. Jeff Culbreath, explains his preference for the American Independent Party over the Constitution Party:

My objection to the CP platform is that it says too much about too many things. It’s a political straightjacket and the CP will forever remain a tiny party for that reason. I can’t imagine CP primary debates, for example, because if the candidates sign off on the platform there is nothing left to debate.
In contrast,
The AIP platform is brief and to the point, leaving room, as it explicitly says, “for debate over prudential policy matters within certain parameters of fundamental American political thought and a framework of ordered liberty.”

I agree with him on this point:
And the preface is creepy. This country was not “founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ” in point of fact. The language of a Republic “rooted in biblical law” reeks of Rushdooneyism. (from the Preamble to the National Platform)
Not that it is creepy, but it seems to be historically untrue. Without accepting the criticism offered by some Catholics that the United States is a project of the Enlightenment (or the propaganda offered by some nationalists that we should be looking to the Declaration of Independence and its proclamation of rights of divine origin as the foundation of the 'proposition nation'), I think that if we are talking about the federation established by the Constitution (or the Articles of Confederation, for that matter), then we should be looking more to the Anglo-American political tradition for the primary inspiration, rather than to Christianity.

(Is the CP more "pure" in its embrace of conservative principles at least, even if its history is a bit faulty?)

In contrast, saying that one state in the union or another has a Christian foundation--that seems ok, as some of the colonies were settled by believers, and some even had official state churches.

It got me thinking about the debates leading up to nominating convention (for certain Federal offices?). Historically, was the platform decided at the convention? How much variation was there for different offices? How were candidates selected in the past? Did the party vet its own members? Is it possible to practice this more "personal" kind of politics when the territory is too large, and the people are not familiar with one another?

How do debates between the candidates match up with the will of the people on various issues? Should there not be agreement on the general principles of the party; what should be prohibited (abortion, for the Church, is non-negotiable, unlike, perhaps prostitution)?

Some questions may be settled only by prudence and cannot be addressed properly in the abstract. So then beyond general principles, should we not be looking for people who respect law and authority and embody justice to hold office? Personality and character do matter. The platform is meaningless if the candidate is lying and will not implement it. And hence the need, first of all, for honesty and trustworthiness in our candidates, and the possession of the moral virtues.

As for the third party candidates: Baldwin or Barr (or even Nader) -- I know nothing about their personal qualities. Are they nonetheless "safe bets"? Voting for a third-party candidate is a concession to the circumstances, if it isn't misplaced trust. I will admit that this is not the best way to proceed with respect to civic life, but if one cannot vote for any of the candidates because one does not have sufficient knowledge of who they are, then one cannot vote. Even if they all turn out to be bad, then is it possible that the one who is the most correct regarding general principles and policies/solutions is the least evil? And one should prevent someone who is worse in this regard from taking office, to prevent greater evils from taking place?
(For example, some have claimed that McCain is better than Obama, if we consider mainly the sort of people they would nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court.)

But the fact that someone mouths the correct principles does not mean that he is the most "virtuous" or qualified to rule.

Americans need to practice being neighbors first (and running a household), before attempting to shape the community by engaging in politics?

What would the anti-Federalists say and do?

Yesterday was Constitution Day (recognized by the Constitution Party). Someone at Facebook, and a contributor to CHT, asked us to remember the Articles of Confederation.

Constitution Center--Constitution Day

What happened to the Reform Party?

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