2020 federal dossier: Role of Government

This is the ninth part of a ten-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, role of government is the largest slice of the pie, worth 14 points. 

In this instance, I’m providing an overview of how I see the candidate serving as a member of the House or Senate. Instead of a randomized order I will begin with the two House contenders then do the Senate.

Matthew Morris (House)

Out of the four Republicans being considered to represent Delaware I would place Morris farthest to the left, perhaps even a little left of center. One thing I found admirable, though, is his devotion to be a representative.

“By holding town hall meetings across the state of Delaware, I will be able to hear the wants and needs of my constituents.  I will dedicate time to chair in person town hall meetings to speak to the constituents of the State of Delaware to ensure your voices are being heard.”

This comes from his experience organizing town hall meetings around his home region; however, I’d be really interested to see how his reception in the Laurel area where I live would be, as it’s very rural and conservative. So I’m not sure he could be truly representative of our views, and the question is more whether he could be persuasive enough to bring people to his side from the right. You see, when he talks about Millennials’ “abilities to think outside of the box, and reach across party lines to discuss true resolution” I think of how many times Republicans have reached across the aisle only to be beaten to a pulp with the bloody stump the Democrats ripped off. (If it truly worked both ways, we would still have somewhat limited government, and we don’t.)

The problem for Republicans trying to run in that lane is that liberal voters seldom vote for anything but the real thing. Know your opponent: she is a black Democrat who can get by with pretending to be centrist because she gets the cover of being a little short of Squad-left. But she’s very good at playing up the first woman to represent Delaware angle for all its worth.

Lee Murphy (House)

Lee is a very lucky guy. I don’t see him as a doctrinaire conservative; fortunately, in comparison to his opponent, running right down the center stripe can make Lee look like the second coming of Ronald Reagan and that may be good enough for Delaware Republicans. But then again…

One thing I did prior to writing this part was to look up where Lee stood on issues two years ago when he had a primary against a guy who had run as a Democrat two years prior and nailed illegal signs to trees, and lost. (I like that the internet is forever and he recycled the “gomurph” website. Because of this, I’ve supplemented some previous parts of this over the weekend.) I think he’s shifted a little bit to the left between 2018 and 2020.

As a Congressman, Lee would likely be one of those who we would like for about half his votes and wonder what he was thinking with the other half, particularly with the environmental issues. If he’s fortunate enough to prevail, he almost seems to me like a short-timer who would maybe get through a term or two, not passing anything that would be memorable for how it brought government to heel as it needs to be. In reading his platform and interacting with his campaign, Lee doesn’t come across as the stout conservative we need but more as the Republican whose most agreeable vote every two years may well be for Speaker of the House.

James DeMartino (Senate)

Here’s what I read:

“The two original documents, Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution both based upon God given certain inalienable rights to every and all individuals, establish the American system of government. Our government exists to protect our God given rights. I am a firm believer and supporter in our Constitution’s fundamental principles of limited government, separation of powers, individual liberty and the rule of law.”

Okay, so far so excellent. But then I cued up the tire screech of a car coming to a sudden stop:

“Our rights: freedom of speech, religion, the right to bear arms and the right of the people to be secure are not subject to interpretation by public opinion but rather by the Supreme Court.”

Wait, what…? (sighs) Not that old Marbury v. Madison trick again. You’re telling me inalienable rights endowed by our Creator are subject to the whims of nine people, some of whom believe the Constitution is as relevant and useful as the type of toilet paper they use? Ummm, no, these rights are non-negotiable. So I didn’t care as much about the next statement because I wasn’t quite sure he meant it:

“I will support the nomination of judges that interpret the constitution as written and intended by our founding fathers. The federal government exists to protect our rights as American citizens…It is time the federal government returns to a limited government relinquishing control of everyday life back to ‘We the People.'”

Yet I read through the dossier I’ve started on James and identified at least a half-dozen instances where he’s advocating for more government. My concern is that he would drift leftward like most Republicans do, and the fact he’s made more overtures toward the party faithful (the old “party over everything” crowd) than the rank-and-file Republicans leaves me concerned.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Compared to DeMartino and his questionable overtures toward limited government in citing the Constitution, we know where Lauren Witzke stands. She fits squarely into the mold of the “big-government conservative” and that strain of populism needs to be eyed suspiciously and kept in check wherever possible.

Those who inhabit Lauren’s corner of the political world are unapologetic about using government to achieve their ends, which to them justifies the means. If the size of the welfare program doesn’t change but the focus shifts to rewarding a different type of behavior, such as having kids in wedlock instead of out of wedlock, it’s considered a success.

This has always been an argument I fail to comprehend: a politician like Lauren believes the government is spending the money regardless of whether it achieves the goals of social conservatives, isolationists, and other strains of populist or not, so we are better off in spending it our way. Of course, the third option they don’t consider is that of bringing government closer to the people by letting states decide how they want to address issues (and spending less in the meantime.) Given their long-term decline in population, perhaps states in the Rust Belt would be very amenable to the style of family-friendly incentives Lauren is proposing at a federal level – something a place like Texas or Florida may not wish to embrace. But one size fits all to Uncle Sam, amirite?

I get that Lauren’s electoral strategy is to nationalize the race by tying herself to Donald Trump and advocating for his no-holds-barred approach to government. It’s just how Trump picked up the union blue-collar vote nationally and how Lauren hopes to spring the upset by attracting the union Democrats who help run New Castle County. It might just work, but is this what America needs in the long run?

With that, I have nearly reached the end of my look at these candidates. It’s comprehensive to be sure, but there are other things which have slipped through the cracks that I consider as part of my final piece: the intangibles.

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