I’m not sure American voters have ever faced as tough a moral dilemma as they did 128 years ago.
The election of 1884 pitted Grover Cleveland, the Democratic Governor of New York, against James G. Blaine, a Republican from Maine who had previously served as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Cleveland was known as “Grover the Good” and had quickly risen from Mayor of Buffalo to Governor of New York, mostly due to his willingness to attack the corruption and scandal within the Democratic political machine Tammany Hall. Blaine, on the other hand, had missed out on his party’s nomination in 1876 and 1880 due to his history of scandal. Blaine was particularly fond of selling his political influence to businesses in exchange for kick backs and sweet heart deals. Cleveland supporters chanted “Burn, burn, burn this letter!” and “Blaine, Blaine, the Continental liar from the State of Maine!” throughout the campaign. A faction of the Republican party (eventually known as the “Mugwumps”) were so dissatisfied with Blaine’s nomination that they actively campaigned for Cleveland.
Because of this stark contrast in moral character, the nation was stunned when The Buffalo Evening Telegraph published a story in July that Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock (commonplace now, but a huge deal in 1884) and that the child had been put in an orphanage after his mother was institutionalized. Cleveland’s campaign met the charges head on, admitting the affair and stating that Cleveland supported the child and gave him his surname despite a lack of proof that the child was his (the child’s mother did not exactly have a chaste reputation). The hope was that the scandal could be spun in way that showed Cleveland as a generous benefactor atoning for a mistake rather than as an adulterer and deadbeat dad. This did not stop Blaine supporters from chanting “Ma, Ma, where’s my pa?” for the remainder of the campaign.
Suddenly, voters were faced with a decision. Should they vote for Blaine, a man who was faithful to his wife but tainted with political scandal, or Cleveland, a man marked by integrity in his political life but unable to keep it in his pants? The remainder of the campaign was characterized by each side stating its case as to which type of integrity was more important. Continue reading We’re Going to Vote Like It’s 1884
When I saw the news that Newt had won the South Carolina primary, I couldn’t help but think, Are we really this desperate to nominate someone else besides Mitt Romney? I know I’m biased because I support Romney, but I can at least see the appeal of Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. And if either of them managed to win the Republican nomination, I wouldn’t have a big problem voting for them in the general election.
Newt, on the other hand, I just don’t get. Forget the fact that his conservative bona fides are far from impeccable (I mean, he filmed an alarmist global warming commercial with Nancy Pelosi) and some of his ideas sound more like Joe Biden’s infamous gaffes than legitimate conservative solutions. From a purely moral stand point, the Republican Party cannot possibly ask its base to support a Gingrich candidacy in the general election.
The GOP is, after all, the party many consider to be the home of most Evangelicals and social conservatives. It’s the party that claims to stand up for traditional family values. It’s the party that believed Bill Clinton and John Edwards were morally unfit to lead our country.
Before reading this, you might want to read my political disclaimers which explain why I would bother writing about politics and briefly outline my general beliefs about politics and the Christian’s responsibility.
Many of my Evangelical brethren have jumped onto the Rick Santorum bandwagon recently, and it’s not difficult to see why. I heard him speak at a fundraiser for Caring to Love Ministries, a local crisis pregnancy center, and I found him to be sincere and engaging, and honestly, the story of his personal journey to recognizing and protecting the sanctity of life left me in tears. I have no doubt that he is the candidate whose view on life issues most closely mirrors my own and whom I trust the most to stand for those issues once in office.
That being said, when it comes time for me to cast my ballot in the Republican primary, I will be voting for Mitt Romney, not Santorum or any of the other candidates that many Evangelicals also seem to prefer. I suspect that Romney’s Mormonism is a problem for many so here’s why I’m willing to overlook that. Continue reading Why Romney