An Independent political perspective: Vote your conscience … but vote

Daniel Cortez 2By Daniel P. Cortez

Tomorrow brings the dawn of another election day. Another opportunity to send a message to candidates “the people choose so they may be better served.”

After the concession calls and victory speeches, political drama continues, hopefully, with new players. These men and women regardless of voter turnout become the people’s representatives. And the term is “representative” … not dictators. Granted many won’t get the message. But we can say later we knew them before they became omnipotent.

Our great democracy established through constitutional allowances suggests majority rule with respect of minority opinions. Yet history has confirmed one party rule insufficiently represents the diversity of the nation with our multifaceted cultures and nationalities. But there does remain a need for interdigitation of our national identity as patriotic Americans strong on national defense while promoting entrepreneurial advance, freedom of association, religion, and respect for our cultural differences. Along with that are needed compassion and social responsibility by elected representatives.

It can be debated that our social responsibility is religious in precedence to aid the impoverished and those impugned by greed and graft. A cry for a more politically humanistic presentation is a given by more liberal candidates. Tomorrow’s elections also hopefully demonstrate a desire to promote nationalism over globalism, at least for conservatives. Nevertheless, a global conscience must be part of our political evolution.

As a former card carrying Republican and Democrat who supported concepts of libertarians and the tea party movement, I sadly acknowledge no one party or movement is a panacea. The collective failure to respect minority concerns aside from the nation’s difficult racial and immigration history have jaded me to the point where I refuse to endorse any party or movement in totality.

I suggest the aspect of independence, promoted by our founding fathers, promotes independent political thought and support to advance collective concerns. Nevertheless, it remains part of our maturation process to recognize and support select concepts from all political organizations while keeping a jaundiced eye out for those who claim divine providence as the “chosen ones” to represent us while they politically fleece the flock. I make no apologies for my politically jaded commentary.

In my lifetime I have been blessed to have worked for or with representatives who truly understand the need to reach across the aisle regardless of Election Day outcome and work for common cause. Our fine former Governor and Senator George Allen and First District Congressman Rob Wittman make that short list as do Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, and Bush 41 and 43. All these men were known by me personally or my family. President Johnson, who saw first-hand the struggle of Hispanics and blacks in my state of Texas as an educator prior to joining the political fray, was genuine in his compassion and action as were President Reagan and Bush father and son.

Today there are individuals who just may have the temerity to be Virginia’s or the nation’s compassionate future. Barbara Comstock is one such individual as is Wittman. Tomorrow Wittman should have no problem becoming reelected to his third term in congress. Expect to see him in the senate one day.

Comstock representing the 10th District has the bona fides to not only serve honorably in congress but one day become the first female governor of the Commonwealth. Guided and mentored by Allen and his wife Susan, Comstock has run an almost flawless campaign and, once elected, becomes Virginia’s most visible conservative politician along with the distinguished State Senator Mark Obenshain who lost his bid for attorney general last election. Expect to see those two names again on the ballot in the not too distant future as candidates of a conservative gubernatorial slate.

Other possible candidates of interest are business entrepreneur Pete Snyder of northern Virginia who, along with his “Pig Rig” to feed potential voters, has become a staple in conservative circles this election cycle. No doubt Snyder, who failed at his first attempt to secure the nomination for Republican Lt. Governor last year, may try again. Snyder, who has never held elected office, is attempting to cultivate political allies and future supporters at every conservative level. Perhaps he would go farther if his enthusiasm and generosity would be more visible in the independent and minority communities he would need to actually win an election regardless of the position he seeks. Nevertheless, his ambitious intentions appear to be honorable on the surface.

Then there’s the former military artilleryman Scott Lingamfelter, the Prince William County delegate. The retired army officer with the fire and brimstone George Patton presentation has been pounding the pavement lately in his district as a difficult reelection campaign perhaps awaits him. Democratic officials in Richmond have indicated Lingamfelter, who won last year by less than one percent of the vote, is thought to be a political target of opportunity. Expect to see a seasoned veteran Democratic challenger to take on Lingamfelter.

And it may take one to defeat him as those of us who have served in the military and felt the sting of battle defending our way of life have seen first-hand what occurs when diplomacy and civility break down. Men such as Lingamfelter bring military credibility to the General Assembly in a district that is home to a large veteran population. His short-lived attempt to also gain the nomination for Lt. Governor last year did little to dampen his desire for higher office.

As did former Stafford supervisor and tea party supporter Susan Stimpson of Stafford. She, like Lingamfelter and Snyder, came up short in an attempt to secure the Lt. Governor nod at last year’s Republican convention. Stimpson, in spite of great gains expected to be made for women by candidates like Comstock, does not have across-the-board support, perhaps because of her strong tea party ties which have divided Virginia’s Republican strength.

Establishment conservatives privately argue tea party-leaning candidates like Stimpson and former tea party federation darling Jamie Radtke cost them the governor’s mansion and last year’s senate race. At a recent political event for Comstock in Alexandria with the leading ladies of Virginia’s National Federation of Republican Women, the suggestion of Stimpson as a future candidate caused them to roll their eyes with disapproval.

There are other names on the lips of both sides of the aisle as the future. Certainly, if Republican candidate Ed Gillespie can pull an upset victory over incumbent Senator Mark Warner, he along with Comstock move to the front of the conservative class.

Sadly, the expected victory tomorrow of David Brat in the 7th Congressional District after his defeat of Eric Cantor in the primary will be short lived. Cantor had courted Hispanic leaders and opinions, seeing the need to move forward with a compassionate conservative immigration reform platform.

Brat’s hard-hearted tea party comments and lack of minority concerns have again driven away possible conservative converts, worse than Virginia Speaker William Howell in the Hispanic community, a community Cantor had courted that was on the verge of leaning conservative due to his planned legislation.

Seeing no movement to resolve immigration reform with a Brat-type mentality in congress, President Obama has all but assured the nation he will implement immigration reform via presidential fiat after the election. That will make Brat’s probable victory a shallow one indeed.

With the needed national goal for Republicans to grow the party in the badly needed minority community, expect candidates such as Delegate Ron Villanueva of Virginia Beach or future candidate for the Occoquan District of Prince William County Donald Scoggins to demonstrate greater outreach in the black and Hispanic communities. More such candidates are needed.

Off-year elections present surprises and a generally low turnout. How refreshing it would be for a record turnout and serious consideration for present and future candidates. Irrespective of party or platform, vote tomorrow and vote your conscience. Let the people choose … so we can be better served. And we would be better served with Ed Gillespie and Barbara Comstock in office.

Daniel Cortez, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and award winning writer/broadcaster, is active in veterans and political affairs with an independent voter perspective. He can be reached at

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One thought on “An Independent political perspective: Vote your conscience … but vote

  1. […] We live in a free country where men and women have fought to protect our freedom to vote. As contributor Daniel Cortez wrote yesterday,  An Independent Political Perspective: Vote your conscience … but vote. […]

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