Monday, October 31, 2016

Pat Toomey Shouldn't Have It Both Ways

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I've had a lot of opinions this weekend about James Comey's decision, on which I agree with Sen. Reid-it feels like a Hatch Act violation (if he's also investigating Donald Trump, then it IS a Hatch Act violation, and he must resign immediately).  However, since I've been spouting off on Twitter about that for a few days now, I wanted instead to talk about a different topic that's been in my gut during the election season, because we are only eight days out from the election-if you've got something to get off your chest before the election, now's the time to do it.

And so do it I shall, and we're going to start off with a bit of a discussion about the actions of one Sen. Pat Toomey.  Sen. Toomey, a Republican campaigning in a state that Hillary Clinton has been leading in for months now, is someone that has been conducting about as good of a race as one can under the circumstances.  The Republican senator has consistently outrun Donald Trump by about five points, and has made what I figured would end up a blowout about six weeks ago (it started to look like his Democratic challenger Katie McGinty would start breaking away) into one of the biggest tossups of Election Night.  That has to be commended-it's not easy to outrun the top-of-the-ticket, but one of the ways he's doing it is bothering me, and making me think that both the media and the voters of his state should demand more from their senator.

You see, Pat Toomey has not stated whether or not he will be voting for Donald Trump in eight days. He's also not said whether he's voting against Trump, or voting for Hillary Clinton, a third-party, a write-in, or just going to skip over that line on the ballot and head straight to voting for himself (he seems pretty clear he'll vote for himself).  He's not the only Republican office-holder that is doing this  (Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona is another), but because he's a GOP incumbent running for reelection in one of the most critical states in the country (both for the White House and for the Senate majority), he stands out as the most prominent person trying to have it both ways on this issue.

Now, I think, at the end of the day, if you're a lay citizen, it doesn't matter whom you're voting for, or at least it doesn't in the sense of it being any of my concern; the secrecy of the ballot box is sacred.  If Pat Toomey was simply a Republican on the streets, struggling with whom to cast his checkmark for, I'd say more power to him-he gets to decide that, and it's truly none of my business.  That's the great thing about American democracy-our rights to choose our leaders are private and thus fair.

However, Pat Toomey is not an average citizen on the street-he's a sitting US Senator.  He's not even retiring this year-he's asking the people of Pennsylvania to send him to Washington to work for six years on their behalf, many times working specifically with the person who will be our next president on a variety of issues.  As a result, he doesn't get the sanctity of the ballot box-he loses it because we should get to know whom he sees as the right leader for our country.  If he thinks that Donald Trump should be the next occupant of the Oval Office, he should say so-if he thinks it should be Hillary Clinton or Evan McMullin or he's one of those Republicans writing in Mike Pence's name, we deserve to know that as well.

The reason that this is is because Pat Toomey's decisions will affect tens of millions of people, and as a result he needs to be transparent about what he'd do, and whom he wants to work with; I feel the same way when a politician is like "vote for me and then when I'm in office I'll tell you how I'm going to fix that" (and yes, Mitt Romney, that dig was directed entirely at you).  We frequently complain about transparency in our politicians; it's in fact how we base our trust in them.  Were it not for transparency issues, Hillary Clinton would be winning in a blowout and probably campaigning in Dallas today.  And yet, Pennsylvania and Arizona don't seem to expect enough from their public officials.  Pat Toomey and Martha McSally should point blank say how they stand on this issue.  It is their duty to their constituents, and if I was one of their constituents, I'd have a hard time checking my name next to their ballot (for the record, you might quibble because I'm a Democrat here, but I feel the same way when my side does this-Jim Justice, for example, I'd want to know where he stands since he's not supporting Hillary).  I'm not saying it should be a deciding factor (given the alternatives, I may well vote for Justice if I lived in West Virginia), but it should be a factor.  As constituents, we deserve to know where our politicians stand-if Pat Toomey and Martha McSally don't have the backbone to at least put out there whom they're voting for for president, they don't deserve to be in Congress.  They're elected officials, people who are supposed to fight on behalf of their beliefs, but are so afraid of losing reelection that they won't even be honest with their voters.  If they don't support Trump (and I would imagine that's the case, since otherwise they'd just say it), then what makes you think they would back down on some of the heinous things that he's said that they have denounced?  The reality is that they likely wouldn't, because they wouldn't stand against his candidacy when it counted.  As a result, I could never entertain voting for them-whether or not they win, I'm curious to see, as it will show whether the people of Pennsylvania and Arizona truly value transparency in their elected officials.

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