Candidates Should Put Their Political Philosophy on the Table

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In baseball, three strikes — three whiffs — and you’re out.

The Republican nomination for president is still adrift because none of the three Republican winners of the three early states has stepped up to the plate with a clear political philosophy of governance. As a result, they may all go down in history as 2008 one-state wonders.

Just in case, let’s be clear: calling for “change” is not a philosophy; polling and placating the locals is not a philosophy; not even some good and creative policy is a philosophy of governance.

On Monday, I outlined my concern with the way we are going about choosing the nominees for both parties. We seem more concerned with mantras, tears, polls, momentum and one-liners, than with discovering what makes these people tick — the PRINCIPLES that will mold their decision-making on both domestic and foreign policy, as soon as they take the oath and get the power.

Yesterday’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas proved me wrong, at least with regard to Democrats. They get it. They have decided they are all liberals first and everything else follows. I don’t mean “liberal” in a pejorative sense, just a political one, as enshrined in the Democratic Party platforms of recent memory. Tactical differences aside, Clinton, Obama and Edwards all hang their hat on the government’s "moral" obligation to rectify social inequality by engineering the re-distribution of wealth. See, it’s a philosophy. Tactical differences aside, they all pledge to use their power to redefine traditional morality. It’s part and parcel of the same unified philosophy.

This unity of ideas contrasts with the 2008 Republican hodgepodge. With perhaps one exception, the viable Republican candidates (Thompson, McCain, Romney, Giuliani, Huckabee) have thrown philosophy to the wind and have focused instead on their sometimes decent plans for fixing local realities, or on a particular stellar quality of their own personality, record, or creed. If these men were running for the job of mayor, state legislator, U.S. senator, or even governor they might be on message. Local jobs need elbow grease.

But the White House needs more than that.

An EFFECTIVE president, Democratic or Republican, is not necessarily a policy wonk. He is a visionary who inspires positive action from the bottom up and all around him. He is a political philosopher who outlines a framework of ideas for the country, knows how to apply those ideas to our varied national interests and sell them to open-minded people everywhere.

An EFFECTIVE and GOOD president does all of that and more. He not only moves people, he moves them in the right direction, toward personal responsibility and initiative. He empowers OTHERS to rectify social inequality, not by beating down the most successful, but rather by creating opportunities for the disadvantaged to help themselves. To do this, he respects and encourages the primordial role of good families and good neighbors who are always best at lending a helping hand. A good and effective president also promotes a culture of morality, charity, justice and self-regulated moderation as rudiments of a healthy society.

Unless this Saturday South Carolinians give someone else a chance to go to bat — a man with a philosophy — or force one of the previous batters to try, try again, come November you can bet the Democratic philosophy will triumph, because at least it is philosophy and not campaign gook.

We’re looking for beef — politicians with a positive, political philosophy.

Substance is always more dependable than the best of promises.

God bless, Father Jonathan
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P.S. A challenge to the candidates: can you produce a 15 minute video that outlines your political philosophy for the American people? It would be fascinating and you could put it on the Internet.

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