Friday, September 30, 2005

Losing Sight of the Mission: Values and Power

It’s quite a disgrace that so many Democratic Senators (22 actually) voted to confirm John G. Roberts, Jr. as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. People who follow politics are aware that Roberts is a conservative protégé of the late radical "movement conservative" Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. One possible reason the Senators voted for Roberts is that they do not want to infuriate conservatives in their state. As such the Democratic Senators have, I believe, put their reelection concerns above their core values and they forgot why they were elected to the Senate in the first place: that is, to further the causes and concerns of Democrats in their state who hold the same values; that’s what elections are about. In short, citizens who care about social justice, the environment, due process, fair taxation, vote for Democratic Senators. The Senators sold the folks in their state who voted for them, to use a phrase from the 1850’s slave-holding South, “down the river.”

Moreover, politics is about the competition of values; that quickly becomes a quest for power in order to implement values in society. In the end, politics becomes, as political scientist David Easton wrote, "[An] authoritative allocation of values." To be sure, there is a huge difference between the values and mores of conservatives and liberals/progressives in America. Politically speaking, Southern California Democratic activist, Charles Ara PhD, who walked with Caesar Chavez and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960’s has very little in common with, let’s say, indicted Congressman Tom DeLay from Texas. That’s why the Democratic Senators who voted for confirmation have not only let their Democratic values down but they have let down the people who put them in power, and in the end, America; they forgot they are in competition, representing the citizens who voted for them, with the Republicans for those values and which ones get authoritatively implemented in society. As members of the Labor Party in Britain would say in unison, “Shame, shame, shame.”

More about how these Senators will rue the day they voted for Roberts in my next posting.

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