I attended an unusual fundraiser for a U.S. Senate seat candidate a few weeks ago. Unusual because the candidate’s an Armenian who leads the Washington incumbent in all the polls despite a perceived lack of political experience, but who’s locked in a tight race as the Republican nominee for Harry Reid’s Nevada Senate.
The host explained why he supports the candidate—Danny Tarkanian—despite the latter’s lack of experience. While in college, Danny was the leader of a prominent Division 1 basketball team (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) coached by his father, Jerry. In Danny’s senior year, the team won 24 consecutive games, no mean feat. The crux of what the host said in his introduction was that Danny’s court leadership, vision, and ball hawking (he led the team in assists and steals) wouldn’t help him to be a good statesman or representative of his constituents, but his competitiveness, determination, perseverance, dedication, discipline, and ability to work effectively in the context of a team goal did eminently qualify him. They’re qualifications that are indicative of a character and integrity that currently may be sorely deficient in the capital these days. I couldn’t agree more. As for intelligence, Tarkanian graduated college magna cum laude, and law school third in his class.
Perhaps more importantly, innocence in the minefield of U.S. politics could be a benefit to a candidate today. It means he comes in clean, beholden only to his Nevada constituents rather than any special interest groups that had supported him in the past. As you may have heard, Scott Brown, another fiscal conservative, rode the same formula to success over a traditionally Democrat seat in liberal Massachusetts, in the race for the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.
The reason? It may be because on many votes concerning public policy, health, and education, the abortion question, military expenditures and policy, homeland security, and other issues, his constituents will be divided. For example, 55/45 or some such number. Some will be pleased by his position, others disappointed. It’s impossible for any candidate to please all his constituents, all the time. But a Senator with character and integrity will have the personal strength to remain constant with regard to principles of fiscal sanity and, particularly, personal freedom, responsibility, and accountability—the foundations on which the Constitution was written and this country was built. Unless we want that to go away, that’s the type of individual we ought to put in office, regardless of which party he represents.