Back to the Issue That Matter

Bill Neinast

The six bullet points on a resume with a job application are:

“Man of Faith”

  “Husband and Father”

  “Committed Conservative”

  “Pro-Life Leader, Endorsed            

    by Texas Alliance for Life


  “Defender of the 2nd 

  Amendment-- ‘A’ Rating

  from the NRA”

  “Proud Graduate of Texas

  A&M University”

If you assume that this application is for a church pastor’s position, you are wrong.  This is ¼ of the top of a one-page vote solicitation from Ryan Sitton.  He wants your help in getting him on the November ballot as a candidate for a commissioner’s seat on the Texas Railroad Commission.

He gets around to that in a short paragraph below the bullet points that reads, “But what qualifies him the most to serve as Railroad Commissioner is his experience as an oil and gas engineer who has worked in the energy industry his entire professional career.”

Of the four endorsements on the ad, only two deal exclusively with his qualifications to be a Railroad Commissioner.  The other two, both of which are at the top of the endorsements, emphasize his pro-life credentials.

Sitton may be the best qualified person to ever seek a seat on the Railroad Commission.  That determination cannot be made, however, from the ad that is the basis of this column.

Who is a man of faith?  In what religion does he have faith?  Is someone with faith in another religion less qualified than Sitton just because of their differences?  Is one without faith in any religion totally disqualified?

“Husband and Father” is code-speak that he is not homosexual and is opposed to same sex marriage.  Does this mean that homosexuals need not apply?

A “committed conservative” means what today?  Is he a Tea Partier?  A far right Republican?  A middle of the roader who can work with individuals with different views? What is this committed conservative’s opinion on fracking?  What does he think about the Keystone Pipeline?  What is his position on liquifying natural gas for export?

How does a pro-life and pro-gun ownership stance relate to making rules for drilling oil and gas wells?  Does this mean he would deny a drilling permit if Planned Parenthood had an acre or two of land in the 650 acres designated as the pool for an oil/gas well?

An overriding concern about this particular type of campaigning is that it is endemic in today’s Republican Party.  No matter what office is being sought, the “base” must be wooed first.

The courting involves convincing voters that the candidate is more conservative than his or her opponent.  Today, that means the candidate is more opposed to abortion, same sex marriage, and “amnesty” for undocumented visitors than the opponent.  Important issues like balanced budgets, elimination of the deficit, freedom from government intrusion in private matters. and similar concerns about Big Brother have to take a seat way back in the campaign.

This type of fratricide over who is the most conservative wrecked the last two Republican presidential campaigns and, because of idiotic statements about abortion by three Republican senatorial candidates, probably kept Republicans from winning control of the Senate.

Capturing the base, as discussed above, controlled the campaigning in the Republican runoff election yesterday.  There was also the usual mix of character assassination of opponents.  Discussions of real issues were rare.

Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Dr. Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon and pro-choice Republican, won the primary for an Oregon U.S. Senate seat. 

Wehby told a GOP forum that she was personally pro-life but did not want the government involved in a woman's decision on whether to have an abortion. She believes that abortion is a personal decision.

Her pro-choice stance did not keep her from out polling  four other Republican candidates.  Her opponents included a state representative and a former Republican county chair, one of whom was endorsed by the Oregon Right to Life organization.

Current polls indicate that she has an excellent chance of  winning the general election in November to take the seat of Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley 

This apostasy also had a nod of approval from another Republican currently in the headlines as a potential presidential candidate.  Dr. Ben Carson, also a neurosurgeon, said of Wehby. “She has a very good value system.  Now she is criticized by some because she's pro-choice. Personally, she's pro-life and does everything just like I do to try to preserve life, but she's pragmatic also and she knows that there’s no way you're going to win in Oregon with that stance." 

But win she did, even over allegations that she had “stalked” two former boyfriends.

So here’s the perspective. 

Maybe, hopefully, Republican candidates will get back to campaigning on issues instead of who is the most conservative.  

Maybe Dr. Wehby will teach them that they can win without the open support of the “base.”  By following in the doctor’s footsteps, they may learn that a discussion of real issues attracts more independents and “moderate” Republicans.

Those independents and moderates will more than offset the ultra conservative Republicans upset because there is no “conservative” candidate.  The ultra conservatives may stay away from the polls, but they will not even think of voting for a Democrat.

Let’s get back to the issues that matter.


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