Last year during the election hardly a week went by without someone lamenting the lack of good people in politics. “They’re all crooked!” someone would groan, and everyone within earshot would agree grimly.
Everyone but yours truly, that is, because they aren’t really all crooked. There are a few out there who’re in politics for the right reason and are doing the right thing. It’s easy to paint them all with one broad brush, but in doing so you’d be doing a disservice to the handful of upstanding politicians out there.
Upstanding politicians like my own state senator, Konni Burton. We spend so much time looking at corruption and perfidy that it’s worth a few moments to think about the refreshing examples of faithfulness and honesty in government.
In 2013 Texas Senate District 10 found itself in the unenviable position of being the home of the charismatic and well spoken Wendy Davis, one of the most liberal state senators in Austin. Davis stood to filibuster SB5, a bill designed to regulate abortion clinics according to the set of recommendations given by the grand jury in the Kermit Gosnell case. It was not a radical bill; it merely required, as the grand jury recommended to prevent monsters like Gosnell from being able to murder at will, that abortion clinics be regulated like other ambulatory (outpatient) surgery centers. It also would have brought Texas up to the same standard as most of Europe and banned abortion after 20 weeks, when some studies indicate that the unborn child can feel pain and when many premature infants would survive. None of that mattered to Davis.
Davis stopped the bill in the regular session (but only barely, because the vote wasn’t certified in time). Even though it passed in a special session, to those in SD10 who didn’t share Davis’s radical pro-abortion agenda, the episode was a wake-up call. Konni answered it.
Where the last two Republican candidates had run on personality and barely touched the issues, Konni ran a campaign on a vision for smaller government and greater personal liberty. Davis was an incumbent and a formidable candidate with a formidable warchest, but Konni took her on head-on. When Davis dropped out to lose the governor’s race, Konni kept on running, and after a bruising primary comfortably defeated Davis’s hand-picked liberal successor.
Once elected, she wasted no time in following through on exactly what she promised. In her first term her commitment to liberty earned her a place as the second-most conservative member of the Texas Senate and the ire of the business-as-usual Republicans who’d lost SD10 to the Democrats in the first place. She quickly showed that she was willing to stand up to anyone to oppose government overreach, and despite opposition from the establishment, managed to get bits and pieces of her vision through the Senate.
This year, her second term has started much the same way, with bills that would protect parental rights and end civil assert forfeiture, the unconstitutional seizure of property without a criminal conviction, in Texas. (That last earned her the opposition of President Trump, but it’s a safe bet she’ll stay the course anyway.)
Austin isn’t a friendly environment for conservatives. The established Republican Party is hardly friendlier to liberty than the Democrats, and there’s plenty of room for politicians who talk the talk before the election to have difficulty walking the walk. Konni didn’t, though, because she isn’t in politics for the power or prestige. Ask her and she’ll tell you: running against one of the most charismatic and well-funded Democrats in the legislator wasn’t her first choice, but as an activist already she was uniquely positioned to take on Davis, and she stepped up. When she did, SD10 didn’t get another politician who says what it takes to get elected; instead, one who really believes what she’s saying–believes it enough to step into a race that wasn’t supposed to be winnable because someone needed to, to take on whoever and whatever needs to be to advance liberty. Those of us who know her and follow Texas politics have come to expect, even take for granted, her steady commitment to principle, and that’s exactly what we need more of in government.
So no, they aren’t all corrupt. Most of them are, sure, but those few shining lights are worth taking the time to object to the sweeping statement and to take the time to recognize when we’ve found one of the good ones.