Monday, May 17, 2010
Lee over Bridgewater: The Abridged Version
Some people thanked me for the length and detail of my previous post. Some people asked for a shorter version, and here it is.
[In my previous post, I explained my decision to support US Senate candidate Mike Lee over fellow Republican Tim Bridgewater in the current primary. I wrote with more regard for thoroughness and detail than for length, and the result was over 2500 words. Several regular readers made a point to thank me for the detail; only two complaints about the length came back to me. Brevity itself is a virtue, however, and there have been a few requests for a much shorter explanation. The following may not suit everyone, but it is more than 2000 words shorter. You're still welcome to read the long version, too.]
Now that we have a Senate primary race between two more-or-less mainstream conservatives, Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater, I am not scrutinizing the pair in an effort to decide which is more conservative. I'm not going through a checklist of issues, to see who passes more little conservative litmus tests. I am looking ahead as best I can to the times which seem to be coming, and attempting to discern which of the two candidates is best suited to such times.
I am looking at our growing constitutional and economic crises, projecting both into the future, and judging that the constitutional crisis is both greater and more fundamental. The two crises are related, to be sure; neither the Constitution nor our economic freedom and prosperity could long survive the total collapse of the other. But it is not clear to me that pursuing prosperity will resolve our constitutional crisis; too many factions promise some sort of economic advantage for someone, often enough in the name of freedom and responsibility, but at the expense of limited, constitutional government. The Constitution itself -- a reasonably careful, historically aware reading of its text -- has fewer advocates, especially on Capitol Hill. But surely a serious effort to push federal power back toward its proper constitutional limits would not only relieve our constitutional crisis, but also go a long way toward mitigating our economic crisis.
I don't doubt Tim Bridgewater's commitment to the US Constitution, and I agree that the voice of small business needs to be heard again in Washington. But under the present circumstances, and looking ahead, I want to send the conservative to Washington who knows that Constitution, its history, its principles, and more than two centuries of relevant case law inside and out.
I concede that there is some appeal in Bridgewater's humble roots, but in the coming years I want the man in Washington who grew up discussing the Constitution at the dinner table with great minds who were steeped in it for decades, including his estimable father, US Solicitor General, law school dean, and university president Rex Lee. To worry that the food, the place settings, and the table itself might have cost more in the Lee home than in the Bridgewater trailer strikes me as a trivial preoccupation, wholly inappropriate to serious times.
I want for a senator the one who sees most readily and can argue with the greatest credibility that a given policy is wrong not just because it is based on bad economics, or because it's bad for business, but, more fundamentally, because the Constitution does not grant the federal government jurisdiction over that part of our lives.
In this respect Mike Lee is not only the more satisfactory of the two candidates left in the race; he is the best candidate I have seen in any race in which I could vote in a long time. I want, and I think we very much need, minds like his in the Senate chamber. Therefore, with me it is Mike Lee for Senate. End of story.
Copyright 2010 by David Rodeback.