Russell Pearce gaff holds valuable lessons for midterm voters

Updated: May 26, 2015

Most of you probably never heard of Russell Pearce before this week, or perhaps you are still unfamiliar. In any event, he is the latest in a string of Republican casualties brought on by the changing tide of the American demographic. Pearce is the vice-chairman of Arizona’s Republican party, or at least he was until he got a little too candid with his views during his radio program.

Pearce fell into the now-familiar trap of talking about a woman’s reproductive rights despite being a man – it’s a play that’s almost always sure to end badly in today’s PR climate. Pearce said that every women that uses Medicare should be required to use birth control and get their tubes tied. These remarks were part of a larger call on his part to “test [Medicare] recipients for drugs and alcohol.” Pearce went on to say, “If you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”

The latter half of Pearce’s comments actually have validity, from a logical point of view. Where Pearce fumbled was in his failure to keep his fingers on the national pulse. His delivery came off as far too strict, even cruel. What could have been a tactful and inspiring call to personal responsibility now lies at the public’s feet as a scandal in need of punishment. Pearce’s intentions were good, but as we’re seeing more and more in today’s republicans, he couldn’t figure out how to rewrap his old-fashioned conservative principles into a minority/woman-friendly package.

After his controversial broadcast, Pearce came under fire from members of his own party. Republicans denounced his remarks in an attempt at damage control. Does it strike no one else as counter-productive for republicans to attack one of their own for views that they themselves have, simply because those views were expressed in a callous way? Instead of punishing politicians for having the courage to speak plainly about their views, we need to educate them on how to speak more tactfully. This will ensure that their message does not get lost in translation, so to speak.

Here’s a link to a Politico article that details Pearce’s defense of his actions: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/09/russell-pearce-resigns-110959.html

I will be voting Republican in the upcoming midterm elections, but not in defense of Pearce – quite the opposite. I will be voting republican despite Pearce’s comments, because I can see past them to their intended meaning. I know that we as a nation will benefit more from a republican majority in Congress during the last two years of President Obama’s term. Not because republicans have better ideas than the president and his party, but because republicans have a much better chance of taking control of the Senate than the democrats do of taking control of the House.

It should be clear to everyone by now that members of Congress will only vote along party lines, so the only way to ensure that legislation actually be passed is to give one party control of both chambers. Thanks to the republican’s redistricting in 2010, it  will be far easier for them to win a majority in Congress than it will be for the democrats. But not everyone knows this. What’s worse is that swing voters (who get all their information from media pundits and TV ads) are usually swayed from one candidate to another by gaffs such as Pearce’s.

It is a sad day for democracy when parents can explain party platforms to their kids better than politicians can to their constituents. But that is why I agree with what Pearce said, despite his ham-handed delivery. My parents taught me all about the republican party, what stances it takes, and why it takes them. As a registered American Independent, I am grateful that I’m able to understand the positions of both parties without having a bias toward one or the other. That is the key to voters making a difference: being able to see through the haze of flowery and inflammatory speech and onto the real issues.

Photo credit to Politico.com

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