A Lineup of Principled Politicians

A Lineup of Principled Politicians

Your blogger, like a lot of people in the Upper Midwest, has an October birthday. When he was in the second grade, the big day came to turn eight, and his all-knowing teacher remarked at the beginning of school, “I bet this is the best day of the whole year for one of our students!” She was looking right at the cute little future blogger, who demurred, “No, Mrs. Klesath, the best day of the year actually is tomorrow, because the World Series starts then.”

Safe to say, this blogger has prioritized baseball for a very long time. And the 2021 World Series starts today, which remains an exciting thing.

In honor of the auspicious occasion, this post will use baseball to make a point about politics.

Our Lineup Card

The team that will win the World Series likely will be the one that is best balanced. Good pitching and good hitting. As skilled in the field as in the batter’s box. Able to hit both left-handed and right-handed pitchers, both fastballs and curves. Veteran experience and youthful enthusiasm. A mixture of speed on the bases, homerun power, and keen batting eyes. Solid starting rotation and bullpen. No gaping holes in the lineup. A bench full of useful reserves.*

*Re-reading this paragraph, it becomes clear why the beloved Minnesota Twins did not even make the playoffs this year (instead, finishing last in their division!). Sigh.

So, too, with our federal government. To be successful, our nation needs a well-balanced House of Representatives, senators, and a president who knit themselves together for the best interests of the country.

Each individual on the U.S. team indeed must have talent, but, even more so, they must put the team first. They must work together cohesively and collectively for the good of the team.

To do so, political leaders must base their decisions and actions on principles, rather than partisanship, selfishness, tribalism, and extremism.

With baseball on the mind, let’s try to imagine which politicians in our lifetime (with a couple of old-time ringers) could be included in such a winning roster. Here’s our starting lineup:

Dwight Eisenhower, first base. With a heroic military background, the 34th President was considered a “moderate conservative” who ran as a Republican but continued the New Deal, enforced civil rights, and expanded Social Security, while also building the interstate highway system, opposing McCarthyism, and disdaining budget deficits. Eisenhower best demonstrated the leadership principle of service.

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, second base. These Democratic senators from West Virginia and Arizona can split the job at this position. At 38.5% and 33.1% respectively, Manchin and Sinema have proved a rare willingness to vote against their party lines. Currently, their principled limited government approach has prevented trillions in excessive federal spending.

Martin Luther King, Jr., shortstop. While he never had the opportunity to run for federal office, MLK espoused the crucial principles of peace, dignity, and respect. He was not a member of any political party, instead advocating for non-partisan American values of freedom, protecting the vulnerable, and equality. He deserves a key spot on the team.

John McCain, third base. McCain rejected an offer to be freed from the prisoner of war camp in Hanoi until longer-term fellow prisoners were released. As a politician, McCain, a Republican, also rejected conformity with his party leaders’ wishes when it violated his principles.

Liz Cheney, Tim Scott, and Mitt Romney, outfielders. All are Republicans (from Wyoming, South Carolina, and Utah) who put principles of integrity, law, and justice above the personal wishes of the former president, who was a member of their own party.

Abraham Lincoln, pitcher. The controversial and extremely painful battles he selflessly fought to end slavery and preserve the union earn Lincoln the honor of the most important position on any team. He was the epitome of a principled politician who lost his life as a result. If only we had someone like him in our lifetime.

George Washington, designated hitter. Although definitely not “recent”—baseball was not even invented in his days—the guy could really swing an ax, so we assume he could swing a bat, too.* More relevantly, Washington famously demonstrated principles like integrity and honesty.

*The folk tale that Washington threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River must be false, given that the river is a mile wide at the spot in question. He may have had a strong arm, but we are slotting George at DH until our scouts provide better proof of his throwing ability.

* * *

The above all are political players who have demonstrated principles. Constructing a well-balanced roster with leaders like this can help America reach its full potential.

The Front of the Uniform

Wise coaches often tell their players that it is the name on the front of the uniform jersey (the team name) that matters, not the name on the back (the player’s own name). The front of our political jersey says United States, not R, Not D, and certainly not Me, Me, Me.

Play Ball!

Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics. 

Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.

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