There's a clear fact of electoral politics that, for me, has long been almost ungraspable. Bullies win. A Lot. Cheaters and their various subsets of liars, aldulterers, and swindlers win. Loudmouth bullies win. Unabashed, thinly veiled corporate shills and voracious pocket-liners win. And not because of lack of competition, either. Oftentimes there is one or more opponents standing up for reason and sound policy who fails to stem the flow of invective and fails at the polls.
I don't claim to understand all the hows and whys, but there seems to be a strong under-current of sink-or-swim fatalism about it, with a dash of us-vs.them to goose everyone along.
My deepest worries came true during the ACA debates with their accusations of "death panels," where tea-bagger protesters shouted down the Democrats and democratic voices got tasered and arrested. So, where does this desire to follow the hopelessly self-indulgent come from, and how to counter it?
The few solid factors behind it seem to boil down to your solid negatives, roughly stated as, "Yes, they are horrible people, but they're OUR horrible people." I believe our generally progressive population that values a higher minimum wage, the maintenance of our social safety nets, background checks for all gun purchases, access to affordable birth control and other such things that are routinely denied or threatened through the morass of modern politics continue to elect the worst of the bunch through a mis-placed trust that a strong fighter, even a dirty fighter will be a strong leader once in office.
Christie is a remarkable example. He "fought corruption" as a U S Attorney, with a brash, "This is going to happen MY way" style that he rode into the Governor's mansion. Which he apparently turned into a viper's nest of nepotism, clandestine back-scratching deals, political patronage, and vindictive retribution dealing. His policies on everything from Sandy reclamation to urban and infrastructure management range from ineffective to disastrous. He has shrugged off all accusations of abuse of power, and is continuing to gear up for a presidential bid, in what can only be described as an "I'm a big Jerk and you should vote for me." Because apparently, "I'm right. They're wrong."
The punchline, of course, is that he stands a high chance of getting the nomination. Oh, next to "I'm the Decider!'s" big brother.
. . .
So, Why? Why do people continue to make horrible choices at the ballot box? Why vote that guy who left his family, abandoned office, leaving the people of his state without an acting Governor, and flew to South America to have an affair, as your new US House member? Because he's sorry? Wait, what, I thought he still ditched ...well, everybody, and kept the mistress. "Sorry" works with all that?
Color me impressed!
It's time to attack the culture of empowering insolence, of rewarding disregard. Real policy is really important! These people are not principled, they're not conservative, they're not even vaguely interested in governing.
If a candidate stands for little or no government, they should not be taken seriously. This country runs on vast budgets on the state and federal level. Denying that responsibility as a party platform is an abrogation of the duty they claim to seek.
Our qualified candidates need to demand a return to civility in political discourse. Governing demands dialogue. Bullying is extortion of the will of the people. Vandalism and sabotage of the workings of society, often at the behest of monied interests, are masquerading as rigid principle and bottomless Rights.
It's time to cut through the noise.