I met last week with a former TX legislator who has tremendous passion for our kids and for the well-being of all citizens in the State of Texas (unlike some of those in Austin). We were discussing the mess that is Austin, primarily in the Senate, when it comes to discussions about our public schools and she mentioned the phrase, "policy over party"; what a great way to think about how we vote.
I grew up in a strong Republican household and my dad was involved in politics at both the state and federal level. So it was pretty easy for me to conclude that voting for Republicans was the right (no pun intended) thing to do. And to be honest, that is pretty much how I have voted my entire life. If an individual had an "R" behind their name, that made them a candidate of choice for me, with very few exceptions.
But the movement of some of the Republican Party from a more moderate position to the extreme right embodied by the Tea Party certainly has shifted the way in which I cast my vote each election. However, I have to admit that not wanting to vote for a Tea Party candidate didn't necessarily mean that I cast a vote for a Democrat. In fact, in the last race for Lt. Governor, I voted for neither candidate. I also didn't cast a vote for a gubernatorial candidate, largely because I thought that there was no good Republican candidate. In both races, sadly, it looks like I was right. Of course, not casting a vote for any candidate is no different than not voting although I did cast a ballot for all other positions.
So back to "policy over party". Over the past 3-4 years, and increasingly since the beginning of the 85th session in January, I have started to look at where candidates stand relative to public education before peeling back the onion to see where they stand on other issues facing all of us. What I have found is that doing so by eliminating the D, R, I or other party affiliation causes me to really look at the candidate and their policy perspectives.