The Character and the Cause . . .

Two-thirds of the staff of Senator Ben Nighthorse
Campbell (Colorado) are looking for other
employment.  No! Senator Campbell did not lose a
recent election; he has simply switched parties. 
After growing discontent with the agenda of the
Democratic Party, Senator Campbell has decided he
will be more at home in the Republican camp.   In
announcing the decision to switch, Senator Campbell
stated that he would not be defending some issues
and initiatives he previously supported as a
Democrat, like the assault weapons ban and
continued affirmative action; but acknowledged that
for the most part he expects to remain an
independent thinker, difficult to pigeonhole.  
     So why are two-thirds of his staff looking for
other employment?
     Clearly the loyalty of Senator Campbell's
staff is to the Democratic Party, not to Senator
Campbell or Colorado.  And there is good  reason.  A
staffer to any congressman or senator is only as
effective as his or her contacts with staffers of
other congressmen and senators.  Staffers must
trust one another that sensitive information will not
be leaked to the detriment of the agenda being
pursued.   A staffer loyal to a Democratic agenda
rather than a Republican agenda could cause all
matter of harm to the betrayed party. 
Congressional staffers see their futures tied to
the party, which explains the ineffectiveness of our
representative system.  Congressional staffers
generally do the hard work to effect the wishes of
the electorate while the incumbent or candidate
continues to entertain the masses that huddle at
press clubs, graduations, and fund raisers. 
Professional congressional staffers have great
impact on legislation proposed and considered by
the Congress.  Staffers research the issues,
prepare preliminary opinions and positions, and
draft speeches supporting or opposing legislation
offered.  Staffers also participate in the delicate
negotiations (or horse trading) which make
legislation possible.  
     Is there any reason to wonder why voters do
not get the legislation they have elected their
representatives to deliver?  Senators and
Representatives go to Congress to represent the
people but wind up representing the party.  This is
confirmed by recent efforts of Senate Republicans
to sanction Senator Democratic Mark Hatfield of
Oregon for not voting with Republicans to pass the
balanced budget amendment.   Senator Hatfield,
unthinkingly voted his conscience as expected by his
constituents rather than the Republican line.  (See
March 1-15 issue; vol.7, No 5.)
     Party politics discriminate against anyone or
group of people who do not belong to one of the two
dominant parties in U.S. politics.  And party politics
discriminate against any thinking party member whose
views are not those of the group at large. The
consequence is that individuals within the party are
either influenced to adopt the party view, are
coerced into the party view, or are silenced within
the party--the views and values of the individual
are suppressed for the "good" of the party. 
Consequently, chameleon-like candidates are put
before us as long-awaited leaders.  
     In this specific instance, it appears that
Senator Campbell did stand for something, although
ever so slightly.  Yet it is clear that we cannot look
to major parties for leaders or character. 
Character is a virtue that has no political
allegiance, and exists with difficulty within modern
political confines.  We must cease expecting
politicians to set the moral tone for this country--
it's no longer in their job descriptions!
Matthew 5:13 states clearly that you and I are the
salt of the earth.  By our witness we purify and
preserve that which would otherwise be lost.  But
more importantly, if we continue to let others set
the moral tone of our nation we will cease to have a
useful purpose; and Matthew 5:13 also speaks to
that issue, " Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the
salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be
salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to
be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." 

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