When I think of politicians in general, I think of lemmings all heading mindlessly over the cliff because that’s what the ones in front are doing. Many politicians nowadays shy away from taking a stand on principle that will cause them to break away from the pack. They don’t lead the people they represent to a hopefully higher plane of thought and aspiration. Instead, they wait for the latest poll to come in and then cater to the lowest possible denominator.
That’s why someone like Lisa Murkowski is such a breath of fresh air. She actually seems to have principles that guide her actions. She is willing to vote her conscience. But what awes me most of all is that she is willing to break from her father and make her own choices even when these conflict with his.
Maybe that’s why I find all this talk of the horror of the governor appointing his own daughter to his senate seat a bit disturbing. It’s not as though he placed his brother, an attorney who had never actually practiced law or tried a case, into the position of United States Attorney General. Lisa may not be the most experienced politician or the most dynamic leader in this state. But she has stood up for her beliefs against some pretty persuasive people, like her dad, and stood strong.
Now any of us who had fathers we adored, fathers who were strong men and influences in our lives, know how hard that can be to do in private, let alone in public. I was always happy that my mom was the one I had the arguments and confrontations with as a rebellious youth. I was glad they never figured out that if dad had weighed in on the arguments I would have been lost. So the fact that Lisa Murkowski can publicly and with all respect to her father forge her own path in making decisions as a legislator is rather awesome to me. At a minimum, she has proven she is no one’s puppet.
I wasn’t surprised when the governor selected her as his successor. In a fair world where the decision to be made was made based on merits alone, and where the choices came from a list of candidates that represented the governor’s party only, Lisa certainly could hold her own when comparisons were made. Would she have been at the top if the governor’s list has included Democrats, Independents and Greenies? I can’t say for sure because I don’t know who all would have been on that list. But I do believe that no matter how many names there were, she would have been somewhere in the top.
I guess I should make it clear that I am not a Republican or Democrat. I am an independent with a small i. Over 35 years of voting in municipal, state and national elections, I have found myself much more comfortable choosing the candidate based on what they stood for rather than the party they represented. In actual fact, this has probably meant I have voted for more Democrats than Republicans, more Republicans than Greens and more Greens than Independents. But I’ve never been one who liked being boxed into some sort of knee jerk reaction vote based on the initial after the candidate’s name on the ballot. Lisa Murkowski’s willingness to reach out across party lines when that was what she felt was in the best interest of this state is exactly why I like to keep my options open. No one party has the monopoly on good candidates.
The governor’s appointment is only for two years. After that Lisa will face an election she will have to win on her own merit. I can’t believe her father’s love for her blinded him to this fact. And knowing this, I can’t believe he would not have selected someone he thought could do the job now and run a credible campaign that will keep the seat within his party.
And if he’s wrong and Lisa can’t measure up, Alaskans will have their opportunity to make a change then. For now, I’m happy that the governor did not let his relationship with Lisa cause him to eliminate her for fear of bad publicity. He chose a good person to fill his position in Washington. She now has two years to prove to us she deserves it on her own. I’m betting she’ll succeed.