Priorities shine a light on one’s principles

“Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.” – Edmund Burke

The father of modern conservatism is absolutely right, in so many ways. Far too often, we look for politicians who talk a good game, and who appear to be leading the charge for our principles, and then forget to ensure they deliver on their promises.

When he ran for Governor of Wisconsin in 2010, Scott Walker – a man I greatly admire and respect – campaigned hard as a staunch, pro-life-without-exceptions candidate. That was a position, one of many, that put a target on his back with government-by-referendum liberal-socialist-progressive-statists in his state.

He survived a recall effort, but I think that process resulted in a schism of Scott Walker. There was Scott Walker the man, a good man. And then there was Scott Walker the politician, who will say whatever he must to retain his position.

I have little doubt that Scott Walker is still a very pro-life man. But, when he launched his re-election campaign in 2013, we began to see a different politician. In December of last year, he told the people of Wisconsin that he was “proudly pro-life,” but he was going to “focus on fiscal issues” in his campaign.

“Proudly pro-life” is a statement that has taken on new meaning in recent years. Previously, it was the mantra of Christians and others who opposed abortion. For many pro-life groups around the country, it still is.

But more recently, it has become a catchphrase for politicians who want to address the issue without really addressing it.

Like Gov. Mitt Romney, who touted he was “proudly pro-life,” but signed into law taxpayer-funded abortions in Massachusetts.

Or, Gov. Charlie Crist, who was “proudly pro-life,” pro-gun, and pro-traditional marriage … when he was a Republican … who’s views have “evolved” since he became a Democrat.

Again, particularly to my Wisconsin friends, I’m absolutely certain Scott Walker would stand behind his words with regard to life. But you have to admit that his handling of another important “social issue” is more than a little disconcerting.

Wisconsin was one of several states in which the people voted and enacted bans on homosexual “marriage,” only to have a federal judge strike it down as unconstitutional (the logic behind that will have to be a subject for another day). The matter went through the appeals process, all the way up for consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Then, last week, the nation’s top court punted, refusing to take up any of the cases, and in effect, allowing the lower court decisions to stand. Here was Scott Walker’s response:

“For us, it’s over in Wisconsin … I’d rather be talking in the future now more about our jobs plan and our plan for the future of the state. I think that’s what matters to the kids. It’s not this issue.”

Never mind the decades of extensive research that shows conclusively that children from two-parent, mother-father families are substantially more likely to thrive. The most troubling part of that statement is the absolute surrender on what had been – up to that point – one of his core principles.

It’s even more troubling when you consider the fight he’s still willing to wage over the do-or-die issue of voter fraud. Just a couple days after refusing to take up Wisconsin’s fight for traditional marriage, the Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 decision to block the state’s voter I.D. law.

On this matter, Scott Walker went to the mattresses in a recent debate with his opponent, saying voter I.D. was critical and necessary, even if it prevented just one fraudulent vote:

“It doesn’t matter if it’s one, 100, or 1,000. Amongst us, who would be that one person who would like to have our vote canceled by a vote that was cast illegally?”

I agree that voter fraud is troubling, but I have a very difficult time putting it ahead of matters of life and the sanctity of marriage. Whether that was intended to be the message or not, that’s exactly what he conveyed to the nation this past week.

Scott Walker is widely expected to pursue the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2016. The early jockeying for frontrunner status is already underway. And in several of the early states in the primary/caucus process – particularly my home state, Iowa, and South Carolina – the issue of traditional marriage will be very important.

Surrendering to judicial tyranny won’t play well. Especially when it’s done selectively, and even more so when he surrenders on a cornerstone of our society.