A few days ago, somebody wrote on twitter that the evangelical and pro-life groups have become a mature political force. They see politics as transactional and not personal. They vote for Donald Trump because he will deliver what they want, nothing more nothing less. They don’t care about his personal failings or his abusive behavior as long as he does what he promises. And they’ve gotten three Supreme Court Justices to their liking.
Progressives would be wise to take that tack when it comes to Cal Cunningham. Sure, Cunningham is a cad. He’s let down his family and done damage to another one. Outside of that, though, he’s still a far better choice for Senate than Thom Tillis. He will vote to improve our health care. He will support a fairer tax code. He will fight discrimination. He will reject the Trumpisim embraced by Thom Tillis. Cunningham will give progressives and Democrats the results they want in the U.S. Senate.
Thom Tillis is an enabler in a political party that has rejected American ideals. He sat silent while the President of the United States called white supremacists “very fine people.” He may not have lied about marital fidelity but he clearly lied about voting for a Supreme Court justice in an election year. Four years ago, after Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, almost eleven months before his term ended, and eight months before the election, Tillis told us, “We are in the middle of a presidential election, and the Senate majority is giving the American people a voice to determine the direction of the Supreme Court…This is about principle, not the person.”
Today, he’s violating his own principles, just like he did when he wrote that op-ed. Remember that? Tillis published an op-ed in the Washington Post opposing Trump’s executive order to build a wall because it was also “about principle.” Just a week later, Tillis voted against his own principles, supporting the executive order because he couldn’t withstand the political pressure. He stands for little besides his own political fortunes.
In the aftermath of that episode, Tillis went full Trump, shedding any of the moderate personae he had nurtured beforehand. He fawned over Trump, sitting silent, at one point, as Trump ridiculed him in front of the GOP caucus. He became one of the staunchest defenders of a president who has made it clear he only represents part of the country, not all of it. Tillis is part of the problem that threatens our nation and keeps us divided.
Over the last twenty five years, I’ve worked with a lot of political candidates. Like the rest of us, they are all flawed. Some have problems with marital fidelity. Many treat staffers and subordinates poorly. Some lack any motivation other than self-interest or self-promotion. Others have less obvious or personally damaging quirks, but none of them are perfect. The choice we make should be more about political views than personal behavior.
The choice in this Senate contest should be who will best represent your interests. For Democrats and progressives, that’s Cal Cunningham, regardless of how salacious the details of his affair may be. Thom Tillis has no discernible core values other than to get re-elected. He fully embraced Trumpism and refused to stand up for either his own self-proclaimed values or against a president willing to encourage national division for his own re-election.
The choice should be abundantly clear. The choice is not between who will be most faithful to his spouse, but who will deliver the legislative agenda we need in Congress. For progressives or anybody who believes the country needs to move in a new direction, Cal Cunningham is the only option.