For most of the press and pundits and, certainly, the party establishments, last week’s election was a numbers game.
It wasn’t so much about personalities and candidates and ideas as it was about how many seats it took for a change in power in the House and Senate.
For many, lost in the power politics of Election Day was the fact that some very good men lost their jobs – and with those lost seats, the American people lost dedication, experience and principle.
Anyone who knows me understands that I do not suffer fools nor have much patience with politicians. There are few who can even command respect from me.
At any given time, I have often said, there are no more than 10 members of Congress who understand the Constitution and abide by it. And last week we lost three.
Let’s name names:
Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., my co-author on a book called “This Land Is Our Land,” a property rights manifesto published in 1996. Pombo is chairman of the House Resources Committee, where he spent much of his time trying to overhaul one of the most ridiculous pieces of legislation in the history of our country – the Endangered Species Act.
Pombo was targeted with millions of dollars by environmentalist extremist groups that don’t really care about conservation or endangered animals but do care about government control and political power.
After all the shock expressed by Americans over eminent domain in the last two years, men like Pombo, who have been fighting for personal property rights for decades, should have been returned to power, not turned out. But this was a strange election cycle, indeed. It was quite an upset.
He is a good man. He will be missed not just by people in his congressional district, but by all freedom-loving Americans.
Another tough loss to take was Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind. I don’t believe I have ever actually met the congressmen, but he did appear on my radio show and I had great admiration for his understanding of the Constitution.
He had an idea to use Congress to rein in our out-of-control judiciary. Most of his colleagues never understood that is the one and only constitutional prescription for judicial reform. It is the only way the federal courts are kept accountable to the people. But, incredibly, most Americans and most members of Congress have bought into the extra-constitutional lie that America has three “co-equal” branches of government.
We don’t. We never have. And, if we follow the Constitution, we never will. Congress is clearly pre-eminent in our form of government. Hostettler knew it and tried hard to educate his colleagues.
Another thing I really admire is his steadfast refusal to accept a congressional pension – despite being personally in debt, having no job prospects once he is out of office and little personal wealth of any kind. How many people would turn down a government pension out of principle?
Lastly, there is Sen. Rick Santorum. This was perhaps the least unexpected of the defeats. For some reason, Santorum got behind in the polls early and was never able to make up the gap – even though, to be perfectly blunt, he was running against an empty suit.
Santorum is clearly one of the most dynamic, articulate and principled men in the U.S. Senate – a place where principle is in exceedingly short supply.
We probably won’t see Pombo and Hostettler back in politics. Pombo plans to head back to his Northern California ranch. Hostettler will need to put his little-used engineering degree to use to earn some money. But I hope we have not seen the last of Santorum.
There’s no shortage of politicians who want to make Washington their home. But Santorum is a man of vision who is acutely aware of both the internal and external threats America faces today.
We need a lot more men like Santorum, Hostettler and Pombo in government – not fewer. It is the loss of their seats that grieves me even more than the power shift in the House and Senate.
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