What New York's Elections could say about Democrats: The Party of Morality vs. The Party of Marital Infidelity

Anthony Weiner is fading in the polls, and for Democrats this is a good thing. Regardless of Mr. Weiner’s capacity to lead New York City as mayor, if the Democrats elect him to office, it will hurt them in other elections. The last thing the Democrats need right now is to be seen as the Party that is indifferent toward morality. Electing Weiner to the mayor’s office, or Eliot Spitzer to the Comptroller’s Office, will give Republicans a chance to argue that Democrats, and their policy positions, lack a moral grounding.

Republicans are the Party of faith and family values. The Democratic Party supports gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, and is pro-choice. Republicans ground their positions in a deeper moral imperative. Republicans argue that laws are merely the instantiation of a deeper held moral conviction. When there is no moral conviction undergirding the laws, the laws lose their direction, relevance and validity. This has quite a bit to do with the Christian principles most Republicans adhere to. George Washington was right when he wrote:

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them….Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?...Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

I think most Republicans would agree with Washington’s sentiment.

Democrats on the other hand fall back on secular principles like equality to support their policies and make very few references, if any, to underlying principles of morality or religion. This is not to say that Democrats are necessarily immoral, or that their policies are evil, simply that Democrats are the Party of ‘Yes,' Yes—to non-traditional values.

If Democrats want to cast off this image, they cannot vote for Anthony Weiner or Eliot Spitzer. Electing either of these two to office will not only reinforce the idea that Democrats do not care about morality, but they will undoubtedly draw parallels to Bill Clinton. Republicans will argue that marital infidelity is not only excused, but endorsed by Democrats. In toss-up elections in 2014, particularly in the Northeast, this message will resonate among independents and swing voters. Clever Republicans will be able to then link the positions of Democrats to the moral dispositions of their elected officials. I’m sure you can hear it now, “Democrats support gay marriage because they do not respect the sanctity of marriage, just ask Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer or Bill Clinton.” Most importantly, Republicans would be right in their condemnation.

The best thing for Republicans is for Weiner and Spitzer to win their respective elections.

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