As I have been searching today’s entire field of candidates, I have found two who have proven long-term track records that indicate they have bona fide integrity with regard to their stances on the issues: Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK), and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Although it also looks like Duncan Hunter may also have a consistent record, I feel the longevity of the careers of these other two men qualifies them for additional examination since they are such fine examples of character within the context of politics. (And yes, I am listing them here alphabetically.)
Senator Mike Gravel is a bona fide national hero. What makes him unique is that his heroism was not demonstrated on some battlefield in a distant land, but in the battlefield of the U.S. Congress while attempting to END the Vietnam War raging overseas. At one point, he went four days with no sleep as he fought singlehandedly in the Senate to end that illegal war during his one-man filibuster. (Note: Let me define that references to an “illegal war” herein refers to a war/military conflict in which the United States participates, but which has NOT been properly authorized by Congress through declaring war as the U.S. Constitution requires. By the way, “authorizing military force” is NOT the same thing as declaring war.)
As Mike Gravel’s brief campaign biography rightly states:
In 1971, he waged a successful one-man filibuster for five months that forced the Nixon administration to cut a deal, effectively ending the draft in the United States. He is most prominently known for his release of the Pentagon Papers, the secret official study that revealed the lies and manipulations of successive U.S. administrations that misled the country into the Vietnam War….From the floor of the senate, Gravel (a junior senator at the time) insisted that his constituents had a right to know the truth behind the war and proceeded to read 4,100 pages of the 7,000 page document into the senate record.
Senator Gravel’s presence in the Democratic debates ensured that his fellow Democratic candidates had to address the hard issues of today. He also held them accountable to their records explaining, “Do not tell me you oppose the Iraq war and yet can do nothing to end it. I know different! I’ll even tell you how to do it!”
Although I would not say I agree with Senator Gravel on every issue, one thing I know for sure: He genuinely means what he says, and will follow it up with passionate action. He is a true example of character being displayed in a public official. I would vote for him even though I do not completely agree with him, simply because I know what I am getting.
Congressman Ron Paul is another man of tremendous consistency and integrity. He began studying Austrian Economics some fifty years ago, and has held strongly to those principles during his twenty years of service in the U.S. Congress. His voting record is so consistent with his beliefs, that he has been nicknamed “Dr. No” by his colleagues due to his propensity to vote against any bill that violated his beliefs in the U.S. Constitution, sound monetary policy, free markets, abolition of the personal income tax, accountability and reduction of the Federal government, and individual liberty.
The only “inconsistency” to date that any reporter has been able to try and pin on Ron Paul is with regard to spending earmarks which he has put on bills he later voted against. In fact, Tim Russert of NBC assailed him hard over this issue on Meet The Press, and barely gave the man time to answer his questions. However, when one actually listens to Congressman Paul’s explanation, he again proves to be consistent to his beliefs. To paraphrase his various public responses to this issue:
I am against the corrupt system in Washington, but I realize I have to work with what we currently have in order to protect the interests of my constituents back home. So, while I am working to change the system, I will also occasionally place earmarks on bills to get my precinct back some of their tax money and help their communities. I consider it no different to a tax credit for my constituents. For example, even though I want to eliminate the IRS, I will still take every tax credit I can get as long as I still have to pay taxes.
Nevertheless, I then vote against that same bill because I have NEVER voted for any bill that contained any earmarks. But until the system is changed—and I am trying to change it—I will also do my duty to get some of the money returned to my district so that it can help the people.
Some still try to argue this point against Congressman Paul, but still it is the only point of contention regarding Ron Paul’s consistency to principle (a much better record than can be said about anyone else). Also, his answer seems to make perfect sense to many, even some media pundits.
Then there is the U.S. Constitution. While virtually all politicians claim to want to uphold the U.S. Constitution (and they swear to do so on a Bible when elected to office), their voting records and conduct typically betray their true anti-Constitutional agendas. But Ron Paul has the consistent voting record necessary to be considered a true Constitutionalist. He can even quote many parts of the Constitution from memory; so he has obviously studied the document extensively in his ongoing quest to see it truly followed as the “Supreme Law of the Land.”
Like Mike Gravel on the Democratic side, Ron Paul has forced his fellow Republican candidates to address issues in economics, the Iraq War (which he alone opposes among the Republican candidates), taxes, and individual liberties, that they might not have otherwise even touched.
Mike Huckabee, in fact, has recently changed some of his economic/tax rhetoric towards something more akin to Ron Paul’s more popular approach. Nevertheless, only Ron Paul has been studying these issues for fifty years. And he has the twenty-year-long voting record to backup what he says he will endeavor to do.
Ron Paul advocates many biblical principles in his approach to the issues. He is a professing Christian. He is also pro-life, giving his experience as a obstetrician as one reason he knows a fetus is a human being with legal rights. He evenly said in the recent ABC/Facebook Debate that he wants to apply the “Golden Rule” to our national foreign policy by treating other nations as we would like them to treat us. In this respect, he is also pro-Israel in that he proposes cutting aid to ALL the Middle-Eastern nations (including Israel, but the Arabs currently get three times more than Israel) and removing the U.S. from Israel’s political and military affairs—thereby allowing them to operate as a truly sovereign nation. Not surprisingly, Ron Paul also has a growing following among Christians. ChristiansforRonPaul.com and the Christians4Paul blog are only two of the growing number of Christian networks supporting his candidacy.
Like I said regarding Senator Gravel, I cannot say that I agree with Ron Paul on every “jot and tittle” of his policy positions (but I have come to agree with him on most of them after studying his positions in detail). However, regardless of how much I agree with him, he also is a person I could vote for just because I KNOW what I am getting when I do.
Interestingly, Mike Gravel and Ron Paul also agree on many points, including immediately ending the illegal Iraqi war, many foreign policy issues, and doing away with the current tax system in some way. Both have strong Conservative and pro-liberty tendencies. Both show true moral fiber within their proven characters—and as a Christian minister myself, let me point out that these two men are better examples of integrity than many of today’s preachers here in the United States. (There are some good ministers, of course… but way too few in my opinion. We should all be examples of righteous living, as Paul admonished Timothy.)
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:16-20, NKJV)
In the case of these two men, I can certainly see abundant good fruit in the categories of proven character and integrity. Again, we might not agree on every issue…but at least we know what we are getting if either of these two men are elected to the presidency.
Well, that is the way I see it. Digg it if you can.
Also, if any of you want to add to what I shared above, or have strong opinions about other candidates’ also qualifying as examples of true character demonstrated within the context of politics, let me know. The comment field is below.
See also my related article post: Is Huckabee Honest?