Transactional politics

by | Oct 7, 2020 | Editor's Blog | 3 comments

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.


  1. JAMES

    I said this and I will keep on saying it that thom tillis vote for the tax cut to make us poor and to make sure that the people of NC don’t have a chance to get medicaid and that he will vote for anything that the repubs say also how many hospitals down east have closed because of the repubs refusing to give money to keep them open tillis has to go also he was talking about not going along with trump and before he get it out and the ink dried he had chicken out and sided with trump tillis has to go

  2. Norma Munn

    I will still vote for Cunningham, but I am really mad. What an idiotic thing to do at any time, but in the middle of his campaign? He made me regret breaking my decades long “rule” to only support women candidates. His lack of judgement does not bode well for his performance in office. Or perhaps we will get lucky and he will have learned that personal behavior does matter to voters. I am also convinced that a great deal of his lead just disappeared and this election is far closer than it was a few days ago.

  3. j bengel

    I could be less interested in Cunningham’s peccadilloes, but I’m not. To be blunt, if Tillis were running unposed, I would write in my Labrador Retriever. Tonka would make a better senator despite being (a) a dog, and (b) three years dead. Fortunately Tillis is NOT running unopposed, and Cunningham would have to do a lot worse than he has to lose my vote. Because if we discovered that Cal was a serial killer, I figure he’s pretty well going to be out of circulation and unable to continue. But it’d still write in Tonka.

    Put another way, I hated every single thing Jesse Helms ever stood for. Even before he was elected to the Senate. I can remember his editorials on WRAL when I was a kid, and the rage that he sent my father into with his racist spew. He was anathema to everything I was taught, and all that I believed in. His ideology was as hateful as any I have ever witnessed, but at least he had one. Tillis stands for NOTHING, a characteristic he shares with Burr. As long as the contributions keep rolling in, Thom the Tool is perfectly happy to tickle the horns of Mammon with his left hand, whilst his right, to proud to know it’s partner’s business, takes in the fee. He is the definitive empty suit, raising fecklessness to an art form. And the sooner we are shut of him the better.

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