Editorial: Could Congress vote conscience over caucus?
“Our Independent Voice.”
That’s how a Bucks County congressman’s official website describes him.
It takes digging on Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s website to uncover his GOP affiliation. You can find that he’s a former FBI agent and an attorney, a CPA and an EMT. It shows he is on his second term and his committee assignments. But on the main page, the party names appear only in a day-old tweet.
“The Hatfield versus McCoy brand of politics must end. Democrats and Republicans need to start treating each other respectfully and like human beings. We are all created in the image and likeness of God,” he wrote.
The language and tone being used by so many in our country needs to change. The Hatfield versus McCoy brand of politics must end. Democrats and Republicans need to start treating each other respectfully and like human beings. We are all created in the image and likeness of God.
— Brian Fitzpatrick (@RepBrianFitz) July 16, 2019
It’s a narrow path Fitzpatrick negotiates in his tweet and on that page. He tries hard not to offend his constituents, not to offend his party and not to stand openly against the president. With that one word — independent — he doesn’t so much take a stand as keep his distance.
Fitzpatrick, like Amash, voted Tuesday to rebuke President Trump for racist tweets about four congresswomen. Fitzpatrick was one of only four Republicans who stood with the Democratic majority.
That was a stand, and one that will not be forgotten by either party and certainly not by the president.
But the question is: Was it a stand against Trump’s tweets and their hotly debated meaning?
Or maybe Fitzpatrick was taking a stand for something both parties seem to have abandoned in recent years — the ability and responsibility to think for yourself, putting what is best for your constituents and conscience ahead of caucus and command structure.
Independence used to be something that America celebrated, and it wasn’t that long ago that it was seen as a reason to cleave to a candidate. It was why we were supposed to vote for John McCain. It was the selling point for the Trump campaign.
But now all Republicans are expected to march in lockstep. Democrats are pulling themselves apart trying to decide if the party line is a more winnable middle road or a more energizing left lane.
What if everyone just honestly said what they thought, put forth ideas they believed in and voted for what they felt was right, without checking with the person in charge to see what the vote was supposed to be?
That’s how the Constitution was written and why we don’t have a Declaration of Control.