20 Nov Political Turkeys of the Year
If you ever watch wild turkeys, you know that they walk, almost nonstop. Step, peck, step, peck, step, peck, step. They rest only occasionally. Turkeys certainly log more than 10,000 steps per day on their health apps.
Political Turkeys, on the other hand, commonly refuse to step. Some, like fraudulent Congressman George Santos, will not step down. Others (e.g., Amy Klobuchar and Gavin Newsom) are viable Democrats who will not step up to challenge the incumbent president. Neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden will step away, for the good of the country; nor will party “leaders” step in to help. And Congress certainly will not step above the mudslinging long enough to govern effectively.
As a result, the United States of America cannot step forward.
2023 Top Turkeys
In the spirit of the annual Thanksgiving “election” conducted by Minnesota sportswriter Patrick Reusse, today’s blog post will present a slate of nominees for Turkey of the Year in politics. You will notice that many of the obvious ones, like those mentioned above, spend too much time preening and not enough time actually taking steps. Tough as it will be to choose, Principle Based Politics will conclude by naming our “winner” for 2023.
We start by deliberately omitting Biden and Trump, both of whom are sitting ducks and Lame Ducks in a competition like this, such that selecting them would be as easy as shooting ducks in a barrel. Therefore, since ducks do not qualify as turkeys at Thanksgiving, our nominees are:
Matt Gaetz. He led the handful of obstructionists who shut down the federal government by ousting the Speaker of the House, with no idea how to replace him.
Ilhan Omar. As part of a pattern, this Minnesotan recently voted against a U.S. House resolution that condemned Hamas and backed Israel. Her House colleague, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, one of eight others who voted against the same resolution, also got herself censured – in a rare bipartisan vote – for her rhetoric following the Hamas attack and appearing to support the destruction of Israel.
Lauren Bobert. Among other embarrassing positions she takes, Representative Bobert’s antics in a Denver theater were the most.
John Fetterman. He is a United States Senator, yet Mr. Fetterman wants to wear a hooded sweatshirt and shorts to work at the U.S. Capitol Building.
Vivek Ramaswamy. Desperately seeking attention in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, he prejudged all of the criminal cases against Donald Trump and pandered to Trumpians by promising to pardon Trump, calling on all other candidates to make the same vow.
Tim Walz. The Governor belittled his fellow Minnesota Democrat, Rep. Dean Phillips, simply for pointing out that their party’s man in the White House is a very poor candidate who could lose to Mr. Trump (or to other Republicans).
Markwayne Mullin. In the middle of a committee hearing last week, this U.S. Senator from Oklahoma challenged a witness to a fist fight. The witness accepted, and the physical bout was prevented only when the committee chair intervened.
Bob Menendez. This Senator from New Jersey was indicted for accepting bribes – in the form of gold bars – and helping Egypt when it is illegal for an American public official to do so.
House Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans, stymied by petty infighter Gaetz and overly fearful of Donald Trump and his base, could not agree on a Speaker of the House. In turn, the Democratic members steadfastly refused to vote for the incumbent or any of the replacement nominees – or even to abstain – preferring to let the Republicans, the Senate, the White House, and the nation as a whole squirm while the government sat idle for a month. When they finally did elect a new Speaker, they could pass only a temporary funding bill that does not cut spending, yet provides no military aid for Israel or Ukraine.
With a slate of nominees like this, it is difficult to choose the 2023 Political Turkey of the Year. Ultimately, we decided the “honor” must be given to House Republicans and Democrats.
Political Things for which PBP is Thankful
This is the third annual Thanksgiving post by Principle Based Politics. In the first, Thankful for Modern Politics? (Nov. 23, 2021), we expressed thanks in somewhat of a backhanded way, as indicated by the question mark at the end of our headline. Last year, we were positive in writing A Gratitudinal Attitude (Nov. 22, 2022). Admittedly, we are more cynical and negative this year.
This is not to say there is nothing to appreciate about politicians or politics in 2023. Voters do express their opinions, and they vote. American voters, for example, continue to nominate and elect enough good candidates, and those good candidates continue to make themselves available and serve to the best of their abilities, which makes it difficult for the bad ones to do more harm than they do. Our courts continue to apply the law to the facts. The press goes out of its way to shine light on any bad things that politicians do, which light actually does help disinfect our politics.
And our country remains the strongest, best, longest-lived democracy in world history. As the election year of 2024 approaches, all of us must redouble our efforts to keep it that way so that when next Thanksgiving comes around, we can continue to be thankful for living in a great democratic nation.
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.