Duty. Honor. Country. Civic Responsibility.

-By Frank Salvato

A good friend of mine, a retired firefighter and Korean War Era Marine – a fine and good American if there ever was one, recently sent me an email on the realization that John McCain was the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. In it he espoused the exact sentiment that I fear most going into the November elections. In essence, he said that if McCain wins the nomination he will not be voting…period. I have heard this pronouncement coming from the talk radio elite as well. While it is appropriate to thrash out intra-party ideological differences in the primary elections it is thoroughly irresponsible to abdicate civic responsibility by narcissistically refusing to protect the country from the lesser of the two candidates offered in November.

The battle to convince litmus test voters that theirs is a constitutional obligation to vote for the better of the two candidates presented in November is not an easy one. Over the years politicians, both genuine and opportunistic, have pounded the idea into our heads that we must always choose the best candidate. But what happens when the best candidate isn’t offered on the final ballot? What happens when a political faction’s “darling” doesn’t make the cut? Many true Conservatives are in that very position today.

The fact of the matter is that we have never – ever – voted for the best candidate in any election. Each and every politician who has ever run for office has had their weak points and their detractors, whether legitimate or contrived. In reality, each election that our country holds, whether local, county, state or national, is a contest in which the better candidate is selected. This being said, it is understandable why many political analysts recognize that it is easier to get voters to the polls to vote against something than to vote for something.

The truth be told, our national elections should be less about the political parties, complete with their power-hunger candidates, eager to take the reigns of power for four more years of the status quo and more about executing the civic responsibility of constitutional stewardship. The reason the political process of elections has become a parade of Madison Avenue bumper-sticker sound bytes, devoid of substance and only peppered with honesty is because our education system has failed on so many levels that critical thinking skills in the United States are abysmal. I blame this on special interest groups who have moved our education system away from actually teaching the core courses, non-agendized, accurate American history and the skill of critical thinking. But that is a weighty subject for another time.

The US Constitution is a covenant, a contract, between the people and their government. In order to steward the Constitution (we don’t really steward the government in a Democratic Representative Republic – we can petition, redress and impeach but we cannot steward) we must realize that an election is not – and never has been – the validation of the best candidate, it is the acknowledgement of the better candidate.

The primaries are when each individual political party puts forth their arguments for their best candidate, although with the inclusion of cross-over voters in many of the early primary states one must contend that true Conservatives are continually disenfranchised by osmosis. Often times, many will be disappointed in the outcome but the fact remains, the majority has bestowed the nomination. At that point it becomes a contest to select, nationally, the better candidate, not the best.

The fallacy of a national election serving to elect the best candidate is proven so in the fact that a candidate cannot (it is an impossibility) be all things to all people. Reagan didn’t achieve it. Lincoln didn’t achieve it. Jefferson didn’t achieve it. And neither did Washington.

By definition, if a civically responsible person realizes that a certain candidate is bad for the country they have a constitutional duty to vote against that candidate, even if it means voting for someone with which they agree on very few things. To simply “sit out” an election as an ideological protest is to neglect civic responsibility. This makes those who do delinquent as Americans. This makes them – literally – unpatriotic because of their neglect to steward and honor our Constitution. This is a legitimate declaration for the simple fact that the vote is the greatest gift bequeathed by the Founders and the Framers to the citizens of the United States of America.

Ergo, those who sit out the election because their candidate didn’t win are the true RINOs (Republicans in Name Only); narcissistic, self-destructive, litmus-test politicking cry-babies unworthy of citizenship.

As the political cycle lumbers on toward November, each of us must remember that it is more important to keep the lesser candidate from taking office than it is to see the best candidate on the ballot. To deny the constitutional obligation to protect our Democratic Representative Republic – our country – and the Constitution is to deny one’s civic responsibility; to diminish our nation for sheer selfishness and pigheadedness.

Duty. Honor. Country. Civic Responsibility. Constitutional Stewardship.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal . He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at oped@newmediajournal.us

Copyright Publius Forum 2001