Reader John Lynch writes with the following thoughts about winning elections:
Let us, for a moment only, take it seriously that Congress and elected officials in general “work for us.” If so, we have a responsibility. The responsibility of management. When hired to do a job, we are expected to understand the nature of the job we are to perform. We are expected to bring the skills necessary to perform that job. Moreover, we are expected to take direction from our managers in prioritizing the tasks and performing up to standards.
We, as employers, have responsibilities as well. We are required to be clear, as can be given ambiguities, on the expectations: of the job, the tasks, and the standards. Similar to management in a corporation, we have limited means by which to communicate our expectations. Tar and feathers are, alas, no longer acceptable means – for employees or our congressional representatives.
What are our means of communicating our expectations?
Well, first are opinion polls. In these, we can as a collective voice our opinions. These are frequently imperfect as the pollster may oversample one constituency over another, or slant the questions, or otherwise obfuscate our directions to our representatives. However an imperfect vehicle this may be, it does occasionally provide our direction clearly enough that our representatives should hear us. Recent examples: healthcare, immigration and taxes.
Secondly, phone and electronic direct communication. Calling or emailing our representatives provides direct instruction. However, it is then left to the representative to collate our multiple diverse voices into a collective set of instructions.
Third, town hall meetings and other group events such as rallies, dinners, etc. While these are sometime susceptible to stage-managing, they provide venues where it is difficult to escape the voiced opinion of the crowd. The usual counter to these venues is that such events are only for the angry activist, thus not representative of the represented at large.
Fourth, and most effective, is the election process. While our congress can ignore, or play political calculus with our other forms of communicating our expectations, they cannot ignore a defeat in election. Or, rather, it no longer matters if they ignore us as they are no longer in power. Short of defeat, there remains a value in a challenged election: communication of our displeasure.
We do not get to give annual performance reviews. We do not get to call our representatives into our offices or homes and abrade them on their performance. It is any wonder that they feel they can operate with impunity to our desires? Is it any wonder that they feel they can safely ignore us?
In times when our satisfaction with their performance is not unusually bad, we may let it suffice that our calls, emails and opinions guide them. In times like these however, we use the more direct, and forceful means of communicating our expectations. Primary challenges, directed contributions, political activism, and enthusiasm in elections are all a part of setting our expectations.
It is silly to abrogate our responsibilities in expressing our expectations. It is silly to speak of “purging”. We are not “purging” – we are firing those who do not perform. We do so, both for removal of the unwanted, but also as direction and relief for those who remain. To do otherwise is abrogating our responsibilities. To do other is to let our employees: congress and other elected officials, substitute their will for ours. To do other is not democracy.
We are expected to act; to act as directors of our own future; to act as selectors of our representatives; and, to act as responsible managers.
The premise of this argument is that political leaders will pay attention to the voters’ will. If voters reject a Mike Castle in the primary, leaders will listen to that message and choose a more conservative candidate in future races.
Which I think is a pretty good argument, and the most defensible argument for rejecting Castle. Except, I just have one question.
What happens when the voters reject a Christine O’Donnell in the general election? Will that send a message to party leaders? And if so, what will that message be?
If you firmly believe that the defeat of Mike Castle sent a message that we won’t tolerate RINOs, what message will the defeat of Christine O’Donnell send?
In unrelated news, here is her latest ad. At least I think it’s her latest ad, and not the first one again. She’s still you.