Bryan Griffin: Seeking Authenticity From Public Officials

Jan 9, 2019

Whatever happened to elected political officials openly articulating their ideological vales to the public? I’m not just waxing poetic here about the lost age of statesmanship over politics, I mean it as a serious question. What do people whom we have elected to office actually believe in and what are they doing to advance those beliefs?

Are we even asking those questions anymore? 

Nearly every headline about the 116th U.S. Congress praises the new body for the way its members look. Or the groups they identify with. Diversity is great, and equality is an ideal enshrined in the American conscience. But have we forsaken everything else that elected officials have to offer their constituents? What about the content of their character?

On the left, these are almost fighting words. Should any observer dare to do anything other than praise the new Congress for its unique diversity, they’ll be thrown in the lion’s den with the other bigots, racists, and undesirables. The political left, vis a vis their talking heads, is so taken with identity politics, no room remains for substantive political debate. The Democratic Party held a position on the ideological spectrum that once had boundaries both to its right and to its left. Democrats were the party of government-based solutions, but to a degree. In the post-Bernie political landscape, Socialism is a mainstream, celebrated political badge to Democrats. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can suggest a 70 percent tax rate, as she recently did, and experience little to no pushback on it from her own side. Not one Democrat in Congress objected to her proposal.

Where are the principled whistleblowers?

Now, don’t get me wrong. My observations here are in reference to the elected left. I still believe many everyday Americans on the left wish their elected representatives would draw some lines in the sand and stand in the way of the most extreme Democrats dragging their entire party off the furthest leftist cliff.

We on the right also long for a public representative who can articulate conservative ideals in a principled and coherent manner. I support Donald Trump, but he doesn’t put much stock in this. Likewise, Mitch McConnell doesn’t appear eager to use his time on the Senate floor to explain to the American public how and why Republicans’ policy positions are better for the American people than what Democrats have to offer.

And I believe there are strong cases to be made there.

I for one, like many on my side, am tired of the “own-the-libs” firebrand mentality of some of the right’s most prominent mouthpieces.

Political ideologies are important, because they are a set of principles that inform the decisionmaking of an elected decisionmaker. The voting public can only truly rely on principled officials if principles still matter, and if decisionmaking is still achieved through a structured set of understood values.

As a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, I want to make the case to my generation, and to the American public, that conservative values can better achieve the things that people care most about. Taken a step further, I believe conservative values and policies can better-advance those things that young, left-leaning voters care about, including equality, civil rights, helping the less fortunate, and even protecting the environment.

I very much look forward to participating as a WAMC commentator and the opportunity to make this case to you the listener.

Bryan Griffin of the London Center for Policy Research is a lawyer and author who specializes in american policy in the middle east.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.