The 2016 election cycle has taught us a lot about ambition, celebrity, substance, and policy. Elections shouldn’t be taken lightly nor treated as a reality show. Increasingly, though, they feel like these things.
This week when I mentioned my #NeverTrump stance on social media, someone responded by chastising me for choosing conservative principle over party. They even said “Good luck with that. You’re never going to see principles in a national candidate again.” Naturally, this bothered me. I don’t want to believe that the 2016 election has changed the political landscape so much that conservatism and its principles are on their way out for good.
The past few weeks have done much to shake my faith, however. Just this week, Senator Marco Rubio, who was my choice when Governor Scott Walker left the race after 71 days, showed some colors I never thought he would. USA Today reported:
In March, Marco Rubio dismissed Donald Trump as a “con artist” and “the most vulgar person ever to aspire to the presidency.”
This past week, the Florida senator told reporters he’ll not only vote for Trump, he’d be willing to speak on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised by his statements. After all, he is a career politician. He is young and most likely has his sights set on 2020 and beyond. Many have said we shouldn’t be so hard on Senator Rubio, Governor Perry, Governor Jindal, or Governor Walker. They all despised Trump when presenting themselves as candidates, but with Trump gaining the required delegates to make him the presumptive GOP nominee, they are all supportive of him to varying degrees. Should we be bothered by their backtracking? I think so. Along with that, we should also be more suspicious of politicians in general.
Candidates can never be treated or seen as infallible. We know that Trump is a loud, insulting, mistake-prone showman, but what of the others? Too many in conservative circles made the mistake these past few months of believing, for whatever reason, that their candidate was above usual politics. But politicians, whether they are new to the scene or are established, are always going to act like politicians. Running for office includes wanting to effect change, yes, but it also requires a great deal of ambition. We have to remember this grain of salt.
It’s clear that I’m quite involved in politics. I follow it, write about it, and enjoy doing so. I never believe that my candidate, or any candidate, is the answer for everything. However, it’s been easy this election cycle, given our frustration over the past 8 years, to grasp for saviors and lower our critical standards. Reagan was pretty darn great, but he wasn’t perfect. No candidate who ran in 2016 was perfect, either. When they fail to win the nomination or disappoint us by supporting the non-conservative who does, it reflects candidly upon them, but also upon us.
Psalm 146:3 says it all: “Put not your trust in princes…”