Out There

my gen-x response to uncle ted and politics in general

Posted in politics by Pete on October 31, 2008

Let me start by saying I’m an independent voter.  I’ve voted for Republican, Democratic, and independent candidates, although prior to moving to Alaska I considered myself somewhat right of center.  Upon moving here I realized I hadn’t moved, but my political environment had.

Ever since the FBI investigation into corruption in Alaska politics burst into view, Alaskans have been waiting to see what would transpire with the big boys: Don Young and Ted Stevens.  Alaskans generally hold Stevens in higher regard than Young in terms of his character and especially his accomplishments.  So I sort of thought Stevens would be the last guy to go down.  He helped bring about enormous change in Alaska, and his influence on the young state is hard to overstate.  Even now at age 84 and convicted on 7 felony counts, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, the “lion of the senate,” “Uncle Ted,” “The king of pork,” “senator for life,” and self-proclaimed “meanest SOB in Washington” isn’t going quietly.

Leaders from across the political spectrum are calling on him to resign, but he is unbowed, unrepentant, and defiantly proclaims that his conviction will be overturned on appeal.  This quote from that last link I find particularly revealing:

The Republican Party of Alaska is urging voters to support Stevens anyway as he returns to Alaska today to make a final push before Tuesday’s election. The message: If Stevens wins and then resigns or is expelled from the Senate, there would be a special election giving Republicans another opportunity to keep the seat out of Democratic hands.

“If it’s not Sen. Stevens, we need the choice to have someone else,” said McHugh Pierre, the Alaska party spokesman. “But right now Sen. Stevens is our candidate, we’re behind him 100 percent, he says he’s innocent, he’s going to fight these charges, I believe he’s innocent and we’re going to make sure that our membership and other conservative Alaskans can find it in them to vote for him and prolong their options.” Both the Stevens campaign and the state GOP suggested that Palin, who characterizes herself as a reformer as she campaigns for vice president, is saying what she needs to say to get votes in the Lower 48 and Alaska voters should not listen.

I hate politics.  It combines people-pleasing with an obsession with appearances, together with an unhealthy-dose of inevitably corrupting power and wealth.  The grease that enables the wheels of democracy to turn is said to be compromise.  Is that the compromising of hard-line positions for the greater good, or the compromise of integrity and honesty? If you had to name Gen-X values, antipathy toward dishonesty (especially hypocrisy) and the abuse of leadership/power would surely be toward the top of the list.  And concern over image consciousness would follow not far behind.

The clincher is I think Uncle Ted truly believes that he is innocent.  He stands alone as a giant of Alaska history, but he has been blinded by his power, his legacy undone, his fortune lost and birthright squandered on a bowl of soup.  Or a massage chair.

I have far less sympathy for the fools pursuing power for power’s sake, such as McHugh Pierre and Randy Ruedrich (state GOP bigwigs).  “…Vote for him and prolong (our) options?”  Yuck.  How about voting for the best candidate?  If the state GOP wants to tie their fortunes to Stevens, then they will rise or fall with him.  Saying “We’re with him, unless he loses and then we’ll take anyone else with an “R” after their name over his opponent,” lame lame lame.  Culture wars and partisanship sucks.  Can we have a real discussion, and have our leaders serve?  Yeah, call me Pollyanna.  The GOP could have just endorsed someone other than Uncle Ted before the primaries.  It’s cynical, but probably true, that just about any decent Alaskan who pledged to vote as Ted would have could have beaten Begich (a democratshiver!).

Quoting the ADN, which is quoting the National Review:

“The party’s future may ultimately depend as much on regaining its ethical bearings as it does on retaining 41 seats in the Senate. Had Republicans urged Stevens to step aside months ago, those two goals would not be in conflict. Should Stevens’ conviction be instrumental in handing Senate Democrats a filibuster-proof majority, Republicans will have reaped what they have sown.” — National Review editorial

I couldn’t have said it better.  I used to regard the GOP as the party of integrity, but upon moving to AK in July of 2001 it took about 3 months to figure out that wasn’t the case here.

Final quotes from the article quoted earlier:

Other prominent Republicans, including Anchorage Baptist Temple pastor Jerry Prevo, said they are sticking with Stevens, who has represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate since 1968.

“Based on all that he’s done and being a pastor, pastors are a little bit, their tendency is to extend forgiveness and preach forgiveness, so that would just be a natural thing,” Prevo said.

State House Speaker John Harris, a Republican from Valdez, said he’s supporting Stevens, but only because there isn’t enough time to get another Republican on the ballot.

“Had this trial taken place significantly before the election, I’d say he ought to step down. Now, there isn’t enough time,” Harris said. “I hope he wins, and we’ll see what happens after that.”

I long to live as Christ did, and I’m all for forgiveness.  I am.  Ted’s sins are no worse than my own, and I believe they separate him from God just as everyone’s do.  I believe we all should forgive him.  But that doesn’t mean we show the poor judgement to reelect him.  Did Prevo have the same stance toward Bill Clinton when he finally owned up to his scandalous behavior?  I…kind of doubt it.  That is the kind of hypocrisy that just turns my stomach.  I’ve avoided taking shots at the Anchorage Baptist Temple, and I’ll try and continue to resist now, but it’s hard sometimes.

And Harris just comes across as such a spineless partisan.  What about doing what is right?  I’ll say it again.  Let’s vote for the best candidate. Now I’ve written way too much, and I haven’t even started on Don Young.  Oh well, I’m done.