Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Staff quits after Congressman switches party

A friend of mine listed this story from the Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/04/parker-griffith-staff-res_n_410280.html, on his Facebook page. The article discussed that every member of Rep. Parker Griffith's staff has quit because the Representative of Alabama's Fifth District decision to switch from the Democrat to the Republican Party. Chief of Staff Sharon Wheeler is quoted in the article as saying, "Alabama's Fifth District has deserved and has benefited from great Democratic conservative leadership since Reconstruction. And until now they had it. I appreciate Congressman Griffith's being a very dedicated congressman. But we believe he made a mistake – a well-intentioned but misguided mistake that is not in the interest of the great people of North Alabama who elected him a year ago as a Democrat." So let me get this right, since the Congressman switched political labels he suddenly lost his conservative leadership? This is exactly what is wrong with having political parties. Just as Arlen Specter (D-PA) made his leap last year, did anyone really think his ideals or principles flipped as well?

The move from one political party to another is not one of personal shift in ideology, at least it does not appear in this situation, and rather the move is for political survival. House Speaker Pelosi has already conceded that policies passed on the Hill will result in a net loss of Democrat seats in the House of Representatives and is giving all indications that she is okay with that. Wheeler goes on to say, "As his staff, we wish him only the best, and we will remain committed to the citizens of the Tennessee Valley. But we cannot, in good conscience, continue working for him. It is with deep sadness that we leave our work for the Fifth District. But because we are unwavering in our own principles, we have no choice but to move on." Really, "because we are unwavering in our own principles", what does that mean?

The man the staff went to work for was a Conservative Democrat (Blue Dog) and now he is a Conservative Republican. Someone, anyone please help me understand how the change in words – Democrat to Republican – breaks with Rep. Griffith's core beliefs and what most likely attracted the staff to work for him. For the staff to up and quit just displays how ideology rules the roast in Washington D.C., probably in politics in general, that if ones employer or candidate doesn't have a certain label then they must be the opposition. How shortsighted is the staff?

The type of ideological stance taken by the staff is the primary reason why I do not call myself a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or insert political affiliation. Instead I look at the candidate's stance on my core issues to determine if I will back that person or not. I have little time to care what their party affiliation is. Does one a change in party affiliation translate into a change in core beliefs of the candidate? Is the staff being true to the principles they signed up for by quitting? Or is the staff quitting a sign of ideology over principle in action?