I had a long conversation with a good friend on Friday about a certain senator. He’s long-tenured and quite powerful in the senate, but there is a growing (and has been for years) call to bring him home.
My friend was recently elected as a delegate to the state convention (congratulations!), and I asked for her opinion on this embattled senator. She agrees with the calls to bring him home for numerous reasons. I, for my own reasons, am actually not opposed to sending him back to the senate. I also would not necessarily oppose a replacement, but that is neither here nor there for the sake of this post.
As I looked over many of the reasons some offer for bringing him home, I recognized several that kind of bother me. And bother not because of inaccuracy in fact but rather what I see as a lack of recognition of circumstance.
Let me see if I can paint this any better…. Oh, and before I start, I’d just like to state that this is how I hope all people would view our politicians.
I notice that campaigns often focus on the question of What was done by a particular politician. We see that both negatively and positively. For example, Santorum frequently points out his work on Iran; Gingrich his work to balance the budget. Those are both positives. On the negative side, candidates often attack the What of their opponents. For example, pretty much everyone is bagging on Romney for the Massachusetts Healthcare Law. That’s a negative.
And all of those are focused on the What.
Most of the arguments against this particular senator are What arguments. “He did X, Y, and Z and for that he should be removed.”
But the question I want to know is the Why.
I think Why a politician does something is far more significant in the long run than What. And I also think it paints a much more accurate picture.
For example, Romney and Healthcare makes a lot more sense when you consider the circumstance of the situation, the will of the people in that area, and the general goals for the state. Romney himself has pointed to this situation numerous times by stating that the Massachusetts Healthcare Law was something that worked for Massachusetts and that he’d never propose that for the nation. He’s also stated that such a law should be left to the states.
And he’s right.
No, it would not work for many other states, but because it does work for Massachusetts and that was the circumstance, the Why of the choice makes perfect sense where the What does not.
As I look at this senator, I realize that much of what he is fighting is What-based arguments. When you look at the same arguments from the prospective of Why, many of them fail. Many of them simply don’t have the strength to stand the full spectrum of circumstance. I guess I just find it disappointing that a capable person who has served his country for so long would be discarded based on What. (Disclosure: I’m not saying he’s guiltless of all of them and that he hasn’t made mistakes.)
So the dream? Well, I would hope that all of us, as we work through this critical election season would consider the Why of all these choices and candidates. We’ll be better informed, more capable voters if we do that.
I think one critical benefit is understanding. As I look across the Why of the candidates, I find myself recognizing all of them (including Obama) as people. Real people with passions and emotions. When we recognize the Why, it becomes a little harder to see Obama as a Socialist driving this country into the grave. It becomes a little harder to see Romney as a heartless tycoon sucking all the money from the world. It becomes a little harder to see Santorum and Gingrich as religious radicals trying to move us all into madrassa-styled compounds.
By the way, and this is my enlightened moment of the day, but I think this is the real power that comes behind asking the Why: Personal responsibility. We’d be fools to fight against truth and understanding, but we are greater fools for not seeking it in the first place.