Friday, November 17, 2006 :::
My old friend John Taylor has never been a man to mince words. And at last week's TMG meeting (which I was unable to attend), he proved that once again.
Looking over his prepared remarks, there is one thing that stands out from the rest:
It is not our job to support political candidates. It is their job to earn our support. Period.
That flies in the face of just about everything we've all read in the political blogging world during this last election. Partisans from both sides took to their keyboards with a zeal that made the 2005 contest look like a debutante ball. The level of discourse was cartoonish, even for a hard-fought political campaign. And driving most of it was the over-arching desire to puff up one candidate against the other with barely a moment devoted to considering whether it was possible that the other guy might be saying something worthwhile, or even right.
Of course, partisans are supposed to be partisan. And one of the benefits of this is to make the distinctions between the candidates as clear as possible.
But something important has been lost along the road to partisanship: the notion that ideas, character, commitment and trust trump party labels. Neither party has a monopoly on any of these items. It is simply not possible. And it is through this lens that I will look at our new Senator. If he is, indeed, an independent thinker who will seek to do what his conscience and intellect -- coupled with the instruction of the people -- then he will have gone a long way in earning my support. If, however, he becomes a mere cog in the greater partisan machine, then he will have earned my derision. For now, I find Webb a curiosity -- a conservative in some ways, a populist in others. He is hardly cut from the traditional Democratic cloth and I do believe a keen sense of buyer's remorse will come to grip those who voted for him simply because he wasn't George Allen.
But going forward, it's important to keep in mind what John reiterated: It is not our duty to support politicians. It is their duty to earn our support. And in that light, the slate for Jim Webb clean. Let him begin to earn it.
Now as for the General Assembly...that's another matter entirely. Their slate is crammed and almost incomprehensible. I do not hold much hope that any of them will be able to earn my support. But several have gone out of their way to earn a one-way ticket back to private life. And many of them are Republicans.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 11/17/2006