OPINION — Do you want to know why so many Americans identify as independent or, here in Utah, unaffiliated voters? The reason is that partisanship never serves the common good. By its very nature, partisanship is insular, exclusionary and selfish. It encourages bad behavior in the name of a perverse sense of loyalty and it does not serve the public interest.
Of course, the best current example of how partisanship turns otherwise intelligent people into flaming idiots is the Roy Moore candidacy in Alabama. The Republican Senate candidate is accused of gross improprieties with underage girls. The accusations are numerous, detailed and verified – so blatant, in fact, that there is little doubt about their veracity. Politics is not a court of law. It is the court of public opinion. Roy Moore should quit his race. But he won’t. Furthermore, Republican faithful, from the White House to the local courthouse, stand by their man.
For decades, at least since the Reagan era, the Republican Party has identified with public and private virtue. They were the Moral Majority. They voted to impeach a philandering Bill Clinton. They pressed for Barney Frank to be expelled from Congress. With each new scandal, Republicans jumped all over their opponents. But, when it comes to dealing with their own, Republicans are filled with nothing but patience, process and compassion. In the case of Roy Moore, such fealty has become enabling and is protecting a disgusting hypocrite.
Democratic leaders have become the new pillars of virtue by insisting that their scoundrels resign from Congress. On the other hand, Republicans defend a blustering, bragging, misogynistic Donald Trump, along with a Bible-thumping alleged pedophile.
And just when you think partisanship cannot give birth to anything more depraved, Orrin Hatch, of all people, has just pushed the threshold of partisanship to new lows. In one week, Hatch not only defended Trump’s endorsement of Moore but also hypocritically used fiscal responsibility as his excuse to not fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Hatch said, “We don’t have any more money.”
His hypocrisy rightly has been widely criticized. There is no money for CHIP because of the partisan Republican tax bill. Regardless of the policy, understand what Hatch is really saying. He is saying adding a trillion dollars of debt on the backs of the very same children for whom he now refuses to provide health care is good for America. Hatch can add a trillion dollars to the national debt but not one cent more? Aren’t we glad he is on the fiscal watchtower looking out for our best interests? We might say he is adding insult to injury if it were not for the real insult with which Hatch hit these kids in partisan defense of his tax bill.
After saying there was no more money, Hatch then said, “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything …[people] who believe everything they are or ever hope to be depend on the federal government rather than the opportunities that this great country grants them.”
What? Can that statement be any more unintelligent? Who needs a dog when you have Orrin Hatch?
Human beings naturally seek to belong to groups and, because of this penchant, we often are loyal to a fault. We see this especially in family life. But a political party, a corporation and even a religion are not a family and the inherent problem inside these groups is how a culture imbued with a perverse sense of loyalty often overwhelms common sense, decency, truth and the greater good.
Loyalty, in these cases, often feels like prison ethics – snitches get stitches. Inside these organizations the idea of the common good only selfishly and, as a result, detrimentally serves the organization, not a broader cause. That is a perversion of loyalty. It is loyalty for hire and people who play this game are the true deplorables.
I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.
Paul Mero is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.