I had to take a day off for an attitude check. The death penalty repeal was frustrating. I can tell you from some long conversations that we have good senators who opposed it from honest conviction (aka be careful who you beat up over the vote). Still, it’s a good tutorial and a glimpse of where we’re headed unless we refuse to give up on changing the people in Lincoln.
The death penalty is a good example because it is a moral issue. The command for life to be accountable for life goes back to Noah. Before he even received the mandate on how his new world should function, he was warned to keep a tight rein on evil (Gen. 9:5,6). Moral issues aren’t based on logic; they’re based on commands or long-held truths that have proven themselves over a few thousand years. The argument that “you can’t legislate morality” is a total lie. In truth, all you can legislate is morality. Every law we enact (and nearly every opinion you possess) is based on some version of what is right. We vote on whether we agree. If enough do, it becomes law.
More to the point, our nation arose from moral truth. Liberty is a moral idea. The concept of freedom is based solely on morals. When the Founders framed our government they had only experience and belief to guide them. They had plenty of experience with tyranny to see the wrong. The Bible was the basis of their belief and morals. From that contrast, morals became a constitution, which guided a nation that became a spectacle like no other. Argue as you will on the basics; there is no arguing on the end result.
There are 2 lessons that seem to come from this Unicameral session:
We should all be deeply troubled that “social” issues (like homosexual job preference or the death penalty) are not seen to be as important as fiscal or political.
Social issues are the fences that protect us. When we’ve been protected by a fence long enough, we forget why it’s needed. “Logic” sets in to tell us that there is no threat. We update our thinking to the times, ignoring history, looking only at the present and seeing no danger. That’s the problem with the death penalty repeal. It ignores the proven history of punishment – statements like the one from Dilulio’s Princeton study “If not for our tremendous imprisonment rate (the highest of any major industrialized nation in the world), the aggravated assault rate and the murder rate would both be far higher.” The death penalty, likewise, is a proven deterrent and punishment. But it’s easier to repeal it than to fix the process we’ve allowed to be corrupted.
Even more ominous, Ernie’s LB 173 would have handcuffed judges and sentencing, as well as reducing prison sentences. Add that to the DP repeal and you’ve torn down enough fences to let the wolves in. And don’t kid yourself. They’re still there, as you’re seeing in Baltimore.
How do you find a candidate who will maintain moral values, while being fiscally and politically responsible? Kathy Hoelkeboer, with the Voter Information Project, will tell you that the best, single predictor of how any candidate will vote is his view on abortion. Interesting that a moral view valuing human life predicts how they will vote on the issues affecting life.
Bottom Line: We need to readjust our thinking. Until we get our view – and votes – right on the social issues we’re not likely to get much right politically or fiscally. Maintaining our moral base, even if the execution is flawed, keeps us off the slippery slope.
I THINK we just learned the lesson of Unicameral leadership:
Only the most naive or disconnected still believe the Unicameral is non-partisan. And a good friend pointed out the reason we have likely lost so much ground this session. A couple of key leaders were term-limited out in ’14. That’s bad news. But the good news is a solid class of conservative freshman senators, who are gaining the experience to step in and back the seasoned conservative leaders still there. I believe we’ll feel a lot better at this time next year.
And that makes it a good time to do an attitude check. Before you read any further, open this document, take a look and see what you think:
I’ll wager you did what I did: you started at the top, looked at the 100% ratings, then scrolled down and became increasingly frustrated. Wrong approach. We’re not going to make any headway (or give our senators the support they need) until we accept the fact that not all conservatives will vote “right” 100% of the time. Anything above 40% is at least a moderate.
And you’re looking at it wrong (like I did). You should be starting up from the bottom and asking how we get rid of the obvious misfits. THAT’S where we need to spend our time.
Ratings like this are very useful. But when you use them to criticize a moderate or play the “better than” game of comparison, you’ve become the classic, divisive conservative. You may be right but all you do is split us and hurt the cause.
Bottom Line: Give our leadership time to develop and stop focusing on who isn’t perfect. Focus on the districts that are obviously bad and change those. We have good people still willing to lead if we’ll get out of their way.