When we go to the polls to vote for a candidate for elected office, what is it we are looking for in a candidate? I have pondered this ever since the beginning of this year, when I ran for Kyle City Council here in Texas. When I had decided to run, I found out another member of the local congregation of my church was also going to run. I had spoken with him about politics and city issues before and found out that we were politically, and philosophically aligned in general about what needed to be done in the city. I coordinated (at least I thought so at the time) with him, to make sure we didn't run for the same seat, because we did agree on many issues and I thought we could support each other in what needed to be done.
It turned out that there was one sticking point that came out, that caused him to decide to support my opponent, who was politically opposite from myself, and him as well. This took me completely by surprise, and caused me to seek an answer as to what was this issue that drove a political ally to support someone who would oppose his ideas. It turns out that it comes down to a difference we have philosophically about the proper role of an elected official in a representative republic.
I have come to see three different philosophies that direct how different people govern when elected to office, and it is important when voting to know what philosophy a candidate holds.
The first is, I believe, what the majority of politicians and elected officials are today. I use, in my title of this post, the symbol of a sheep to represent this elected official. This is the philosophy that the other member of my congregation holds. The sheep elected official believes that their job is to do whatever the majority of the citizens they represent want them to do, and is frequently influenced strongly by the highly vocal lions. They believe that their morals, and judgment are subservient to the will of the people. They see their role as that of a barometer, which judges what the majority of the people want, and votes that way.
The second philosophy is represented in office today by a very vocal, and aggressive minority, and I use the symbol of a lion. The lion elected official believes that their job is to make society the best that it can be through whatever means necessary, and that they can make it so through direct control. They believe the ends justify the means, and they know what is best for us. They believe that they can make everybody see their way through government force. Their way is the right way and the will of the people is secondary to their will. Morality to them is only judged in terms of the end result, but disregarded during the process of reaching those ends. I think this philosophy is what the other member of my congregation believes I hold, but only because I don't think he understands the third philosophy.
The third philosophy was represented for the first 100 years of our countries history very well, and has since been almost completely lost at the federal, state and local levels of government, with a few exceptions here and there. I use the symbol of a guard dog to represent the philosophy of these elected officials. They believe their job is to be a guardian of the basic natural rights of each individual citizen against the lion, and the masses of sheep. They hold their own liberty and freedom, and that of the citizens they represent as a sacred trust. They believe that there is a moral code that cannot be crossed, even if all but one citizen want that thing done. They believe that the ends do NOT justify the means, and violating the rights of one citizen does not justify the outcome of the "greater good".
The Sheep has no will of its own, only what others tell it, the Lion seeks greater, and ever increasing power and control over the citizens, the Guard Dog seeks to diminish the power and control of the lions and the sheep, and seeks only to protect the natural, self-evident rights of each individual citizen.
A great illustration of the dynamic of these three philosophies is the recent health care debate. Here you have a lion seeking to use government force to control what we do as individual citizens because the ends, in the mind of the lion, are just and moral. The sheep are pointing to how unpopular the legislation is as the reason it should not pass, and how it is not the will of the people. There have only been glimpses of the guard dog who, instead of making the "will of the people" argument, stands in front of the people whose rights are being violated, and with its teeth bared, makes the argument on principles of freedom, liberty, natural rights. The guard dog understands that even if the majority of the people wanted this, it would still violate the rights of citizens and should be repelled.
I am a guard dog, and will only vote for guard dogs. I will no longer vote for the lesser of two evils, which is almost always a contest between two lions, or a lion and a sheep. Find the guardians of our Constitution, and our liberties, and get them into office. Lets put some ferocious guard dogs in office that will keep the lions at bay and control the sheep.