Manassas Journal Messenger | Non-partisan pretensions ill serve electorate

Frequently, it’s easy to confuse volume (as it relates to the intensity of sound) with both popularity and with intensity.

Witness, for example, recent tactics of Democrat partisans. No matter the cause, Democrat partisans repeat the mantra “far Right” or “Christian Right” to demonize Republicans and/ or conservatives, whether accurate or not (and usually, it’s not). Indeed, only infrequently has a phrase so little understood become so popular, and so misapplied.

But then, it’s so much easier to demonize your political opponents than to address and disassemble their political arguments, particularly when the latter are well-grounded in the American tradition of ordered liberty.

It’s a frequent scare tactic of Democrats, though, who have likewise pervaded the popular debate with the phrase “democracy,” as though the United States were one, and the Framers did not greatly fear it. But the United States is a Republic, and Article IV, section 3 of the Constitution guarantees each state not a “democracy,” but “a Republican Form of Government.”

But then, our Democrat friends have a keen ability to miscast or misstate basic governmental principals.? Whether it’s ignorance or intentional misrepresentation is sometimes hard to discern, for they, too, are victims of the educational system that their allies have hijacked. But as Judge Robert Bork observed in a speech to the Federalist Society’s 1988 National Student Convention at the University of Virginia Law School, “It’s not that they’re liberals. Nihilists, maybe,” and it’s difficult to believe that they could be so ignorant as to not know how far their rhetoric frequently departs from truth and basic common sense.

One of the more entertaining recent examples was Democrat National Chairman Terry McAuliffe decrying the recall effort against California Gov. Gray Davis as “anti-democratic.” While a good, principled case can be made that the voters who elected Davis to a four-year term should have to suffer for the full period as a consequence of their bad judgment, permitting a referendum on his continued tenure in office is anything but “anti-democratic.” Indeed, the legitimate criticism against it is in the fact that it may be an excessive exercise of the vox populi in a democratic republic.

Of course, ignorance in basic political principles is not limited to Democrats. Unfortunately, sometimes those who call themselves Republicans are equally ignorant, and/ or just as careless, in their use of political rhetoric.

Witness the recent debate over endorsements for school board candidates by the Prince William County Republican Committee. To be sure, there were plenty of errors to go around.

A mea culpa is in order here, for instance. Given the rules for voting published only hours before the meeting at which they were discussed and adopted – committee members could vote for a candidate or vote for “no endorsement” on the ballot, but endorsement required an absolute majority of those voting – your intrepid correspondent was gravely concerned that the committee’s endorsement in a number of the eight races could be blocked by a dedicated and well-motivated minority. It also appeared that this minority advocated the rule to create this happenstance even though they denied that it was a danger, concealing their illicit purpose until after the vote and the rules were adopted.

Well, it seems that I confused their volume with popularity and intensity for, as it turned out, the minority’s anti-endorsement position was soundly defeated at the county committee’s meeting last Monday, when the county GOP lent its endorsement to candidates in all eight races.

Notwithstanding my trepidation about voting process, the process as a whole had two notable and praiseworthy characteristics. First, it focused upon the ideas and policies upon which candidates were running. Second, it was open and public, with each candidate’s answers to a 15-part questionnaire published on the county GOP’s Web site, and distributed via e-mail to its members.

It compares favorably with the secretive process followed by other interest groups, such as the Democrat Party, and the teachers’ unions. Please pardon the redundancy. And only two – incumbents Julie Lucas (Neabsco) and unopposed Don Richardson (Gainesville) – also were endorsed by the Prince William Education Association, a teachers union.

Nevertheless, there are those – naturally, the losers and their partisans – who bemoan the results.? Interestingly, though, it seems they are doing so with the same disingenuous rhetoric which characterizes Democrats and their partisans.

A common thread ran through the themes adopted by some who sought, but did not obtain, the GOP endorsement. The incumbent school board chairman – who likewise sought but did not obtain the GOP endorsement in 1999, when she ran unopposed – echoed a number of candidates by claiming that hers (for now) “is not a political office.”

The notion that an elected office is and can somehow be non-political is rooted in the Democrats’ recognition, in the mid-1990s, of their waning hold on public office in Virginia.

Only if school board seats are run as officially “non-partisan” races could Democrats hope to be elected.? Parents can be forgiven for confusing Johnny’s beloved Miss DuBois with the radical, left-wing agenda of the National Education Association. After all, there are actually a few people out there who believe that the NEA and its state and local affiliates (like PWEA) are actually primarily interested in children and in quality education. Of course, as labor unions, they are and should be acting primarily in the interests of their own members, to increase their wages and improve their terms and conditions of employment and institutionally, to increase their own power and influence. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But it’s just dishonest for teachers’ unions to misrepresent themselves as advocates for children and quality education.

And it’s unforgivable for politicians either to be unaware of that canard, or to knowingly promote it.? Candidates who hold to that little nonsense are either too ignorant or too dishonest to hold public office. In either case, they have voluntarily disqualified themselves from doing so.

But then again, the incumbent school board chairman, who sought and obtained PWEA’s endorsement, also condemned the entire GOP for not considering “candidates for the children.”

That she could accept a teachers’ union endorsement and make that statement illustrates why Steve Keen is an order of magnitude superior to the estimable and undistinguished Lucy Beauchamp.

An attorney, Young lives with his wife and their two sons in Montclair.

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