Bruell column: Vote for integrity this November

Debbie Bruell

One thing most of us can agree on is that we want leaders with integrity: leaders who are honest, principled, and genuinely believe the words they speak.

Unfortunately, we can find elected officials across the political spectrum who have been less than virtuous. But until recently, candidates and legislators who were caught lying to or manipulating the public were typically called out by members of their own party.

In 2017, Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA), a member of the Republican Pro-Life Caucus, resigned just hours after the story broke that he pressured a woman who he was having an affair with to get an abortion. The National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman referred to Murphy’s hypocrisy as “extremely disappointing.”

Contrast that response to Republican leaders today who are rallying around Herschel Walker, the staunchly anti-abortion Georgia senate candidate who allegedly paid for his ex-girlfriend’s abortion. Walker initially claimed he did not know the woman, then acknowledged that she is the mother of one of his children. Walker now admits he gave this woman a check for $700, but claims he did not intend it as reimbursement for her abortion procedure.

What I find most disturbing about this whole story is that Republican leaders are asserting that it doesn’t matter if Walker is lying. Stephen Law, president of the Republican Senate Leadership Fund said, “Herschel Walker will make things better… Anything else is a distraction.”

A distraction? Walker supports forced birth even in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. The insistence that it’s immaterial if Walker is lying or if his personal actions contradict his radical views is disgraceful.

Dana Loesch, former NRA spokesperson and Breitbart writer went even further, stating, “I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles. I want control of the Senate… Winning is a virtue.” This idea that all that matters is winning — at any cost, even lying — is pervasive among current leaders of the Republican Party.

Donald Trump’s advisors and top Republican officials gave hours of sworn testimony during the Jan. 6 Hearings admitting they knew Biden legitimately won the 2020 election. Under oath, these Republicans, including Trump Attorney General William Barr, stated they repeatedly informed then-President Trump there was no evidence of massive voter fraud. There is no way Trump did not know he had lost the election.

There are plenty of Republican voters who have not fallen for Trump’s Big Lie. Nevertheless, the pro-Trump, win-at-all-costs, lying-doesn’t-matter wing of the Republican Party is now in charge and has put election-denier candidates on this November’s ballot.

The majority of Republican candidates for the House, Senate and important state offices this November are election deniers [Washington Post]. Some have openly stated they will not accept the election results if they don’t win. They are pushing the narrative that if Democrats win, it can only be because they cheated in the election.

The fact is, Democrats continue to gain in popularity because they have delivered on many popular wins for hardworking, middle class families. Biden and Democratic legislators are taking on the price-fixing of big pharma, bringing overseas manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., working to address climate change, and enacting other policies that level the playing field for hardworking, middle class Americans. Democrats understand that American workers are the economic engine of our nation.

In contrast, the Republican approach of giving ever more tax breaks to the wealthiest individuals and corporations has only served to make the ultra-rich richer and shrink the middle class. Since their policies have not helped the average American, Republicans have resorted to campaigning on fears around inflation, which they blame on Biden. In fact, a major source of inflation is the fact that some of the wealthiest U.S. corporations have been using the excuse of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine to raise prices, even though they’ve been raking in record-breaking profits since the pandemic began.

Republicans are becoming less popular both because their economic policies hurt middle class families and because the extreme wing of their party is focused on “accruing control for its own sake,” according to Republican and former U.S. Representative Peter Smith (New York Times). He goes on to say, “If the Republican Party cannot be an instrument of democracy, independent-minded moderates will do what we’ve always done: Vote our conscience, and vote for someone else.”

Republican State Senator Don Coram has endorsed Democrat Adam Frisch over Lauren Boebert. Rifle Republican and former speaker of the State House of Representatives Russ George, along with Republican and former County Treasurer Karla Bagley, have endorsed Democrat Aron Diaz for County Treasurer.

When you vote this year, consider not just the integrity of each candidate, but the integrity of the party to which they belong.

Debbie Bruell of Carbondale chairs the Garfield County Democrats and is a past member of the Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education.

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