Last week, a liberal Democrat voiced his opposition to the health care bill for electoral reasons. This week, a moderate Republican voiced his opposition to the health care bill as a matter of principle. Conservatives pine for leaders who place principle above pragmatism. Rep. Joseph Cao is acting like such a man.
Cao was undecided on the health care bill. Cao won his heavily African-American and heavily Democratic distict because of the ethically challenged William Jefferson. Cao is an extremely vulnerable Republican. Even so, Cao voted against the 'stimulus' and he voted against 'cap and tax'. Now, with a heavy heart, Cao plans to vote against the health care bill. Why the heavy heart? Because Cao believes that his vote will be the death of his political career.
As eloquently stated by Cao:
“Being a Jesuit, I very much adhere to the notion of social justice,” Cao said. “I do fully understand the need of providing everyone with access to health care, but to me personally, I cannot be privy to a law that will allow the potential of destroying thousands of innocent lives,” he explained to the Louisiana newspaper.
“I know that voting against the health care bill will probably be the death of my political career,” Cao said, “but I have to live with myself, and I always reflect on the phrase of the New Testament, ‘How does it profit a man's life to gain the world but to lose his soul.’”
Cao is one of seven Republicans being targeted by the DCCC with radio ads. He is also a primary target for the Democrats in 2010. I was inspired by Cao’s words. This is exactly what so many conservatives say they want; someone who puts principle above politics and pragmatism.
In a Blue district, there are two options for a conservative; straddle the fence, pick your battles and survive or follow your principles and fall on the proverbial sword. Cao has chosen the latter; to fall on his sword.
But Cao is not dead yet and I’ll be glad to support him in 2010. Regardless of what happens in 2010, Louisiana is a conservative state and I’m sure Cao has a bright future if he ever decides to run for a state wide office. We need people like him. Here.