Ideology first, governance later helps nobody

As the world was focused on the antics of Congress and the White House last month, something significant happened in Texas that points to part of the problem in Washington.

At a Tarrant County gathering of tea party Republicans, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, locked in a contentious bid for re-election, declared that he believed President Barack Obama should be impeached from office.

We find such declarations highly troubling — particularly coming from an office holder who once had the courage to act on more moderate principles.

Anyone who recalls the impact of former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment by the U.S. House and subsequent trial and acquittal by the U.S. Senate could not responsibly desire to put our country through such bitter divisiveness once again.

In fact, much of the great political chasm that exists in Washington today can be traced to that ill-fated impeachment venture in the first place.

We understand Dewhurst may still be smarting from his defeat by tea party darling Ted Cruz when the establishment backed Dewhurst in his own bid for U.S. Senate.

But Dewhurst should take from the lessons of Mitt Romney, another moderate Republican, who tried to play the chameleon and convince hard-core conservatives that he’s one of them.

It simply doesn’t work. And the poisonous rhetoric that accompanies such a political sleight of hand only contributes to dangerous discourse that had Washington paralyzed for 16 days in October.

Early in his career as lieutenant governor, Dewhurst showed courage and leadership when he bucked the likes of Rick Perry and then-U.S. Rep. Tom Delay and worked toward building a bipartisan coalition in the Texas Senate.

But each year since, our lieutenant governor has demonstrated a remarkable lack of spine in his zeal to prove he is a true conservative.

Which all leads to recent comments in Tarrant County. His words may have resonated with the tea party crowd, but for the second-ranking state elected official, it was irresponsible — particularly coming at a time when Washington was demonstrating how dangerous purely partisan rhetoric can be to this country.

Vitriol should be unwelcome in our political process because it inflames the passions of the ignorant. But the type of vitriol displayed by Lt. Gov. Dewhurst in his desire to prove he’s the most conservative candidate represents a diminution of the great office that he occupies and we strongly condemn his words.

 

— The Monitor of McAllen

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