Party over people, politics over principle

Published 11:20 pm Monday, March 13, 2006

By By Tray Smith
After President Bush won re-election in 2004, I felt exalted at the tremendous conservative feat that had been accomplished. Yet, over a year later, I could not be more disappointed in his performance. The only thing that comforts me now is reminding myself how much worse things could be if John Kerry actually had won. But no one can be good because they are better than their opponent.
With control of both houses of Congress and the White House, the Republicans have used their power to accomplish very little. They have shelved both their signature Social Security and tax reform plans, and they have left us with a national energy policy that accomplishes very little. They have done this in fear of low poll numbers and loosing elections, and they should be ashamed.
Republicans should remember that you do not come up with policies to get elected, but you try to get elected because you want to implement policies that you believe in. Being in power has no value if, for the sake of staying in power, you do not do what led you to seek power in the first place.
Yet, continuously, we see our politicians putting their party over the people, and politics over principle. As bad as the Republicans may be about this, they shine in comparison to today's Democratic Party.
With the Democratic Party, it is politics over everything. They have no principles to put politics above. They simply blow with the political wind, using every headline everyday to bash the Bush administration while proposing no alternative set of beliefs and policies.
Even if the President has a politically popular stance on an issue, the Democrats relentlessly beat him on it in order to undermine his administration. The worst part about this is that the Democrats do not believe in everything they say. They know that following their recommendations on several issues would be bad for America. But they consistently take a negative approach in order to make President Bush suffer in popularity.
Iraq is a perfect example of Democratic politics. Pulling out of Iraq would be a disaster. It would create a chaotic situation that would put the entire world at risk of terrorism, including the United States. But Democrats in Congress continue to use the issue to hammer away at President Bush in order to score cheap political points.
The recent Dubai Ports World affair made headlines around the country as a Middle Eastern Company sought to operate U.S. port terminals. The country where Dubai Ports is headquartered, however, is a strong U.S. alley. It has helped supply us with vital intelligence, a Navy port, and critical support in an area where we have few friends. Letting a company located in that country conduct terminal operations at our ports while leaving all port security operations in the hands of the United States will not infringe on our homeland security. But the long-term benefits of our strategic relationship with the UAE will make us safer. Yet, Democrats led the charge to have that deal killed in order to be able to move to the right of President Bush on a security related issue. In reality, they weakened our relationship with a very critical Middle Eastern ally.
Social Security is another example of Democrats squawking at the idea of real reform because it would "weaken social security" when in reality it will go bankrupt if we do not make structural changes.
The main fault of Republican politicians is their weak spine. While the GOP is a party of great ideas and great principles, it has a hard time standing on those beliefs in the midst of bad poll numbers or negative press coverage. What Republicans fail to realize is that in the end good policy makes good politics, party unity creates a stronger message, and voters respect bold action. A party with no spine but many ideas is not worth anymore than a party with no spine and no ideas.
We should not have to choose between the lesser of two evils. We should be able to choose between candidates who express ideas and values that we can identify with the most. We should have candidates who take stands based on their beliefs and not on polls. Most importantly, we should have politicians who understand as soon as they put their party above their country, democracy fails and they cease to be viable leaders.
That is the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a freshman at Escambia Academy. He writes a political column for the Atmore Advance. He can be reached for comment at column appears weekly.

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