One of the lamest arguments put forward to oppose supporting a candidate for office who has never held office before is the one that tells us: “But we have no idea if he’ll vote the same way he is campaigning. Better to stick with the devil we know than risk everything on the devil we don’t know.”
The argument is a fatuous one because it is made in a vacuum that assumes we know nothing about the candidate who has never held office or the principles he embraces and that he is just as bad – if not worse – than the other candidate.
In the present case of the GOP primary for the 7th Congressional District, the incumbent, Rep. Leonard Lance, is “the devil we know,” so to speak. He represents what is arguably the most conservative district in the state and yet has a demonstrable track record of wandering off the conservative path and into the brambles of big government: he was one of a handful of Republican Representatives who voted in favor of Cap & Trade – and this is just one of the most egregious examples of how this RINO Republican votes in Congress.
Mr. Lance is being challenged by David Larsen, a businessman from Tewksbury who opposed him in the 2010 primary. Mr. Larsen’s argument is a simple one: he is a candidate who embraces the fundamental principles of Reagan conservatism and has vowed he will cleave to those principles if elected.
But why should we believe him – much less vote for him?
I’ll tell you why: Because David Larsen is a man of integrity.
Integrity is generally defined as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”An expanded definition explains that
Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy, in that it regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs.
The word “integrity” stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.
By these criteria, integrity becomes the ultimate litmus test of qualification for any position of leadership, be it in the private sector or the public sector.
A man of integrity is first and foremost true to himself – and if the reflection in the mirror of his own mind is not identical to that which he knows he truly is, then he has become a liar – and worse, he knows he is a liar because the very first falsehood is silently uttered to himself.
A man of integrity does not fear following the dual pathways of empirical and moral truth to whatever destination they lead him – for truth is reality and the denial of such, a corrosive fantasy that further damages an already disfigured visage in the mirror of his own mind.
A man of integrity is willing to engage the hard choices that he inevitably encounters while traveling the pathway of the truth and, upon encountering a fork in the road, does not recoil when asked to make a decision based on the facts in a sincere effort to do good and avoid evil. If his decision is demonstrated to be erroneous, he will have the humility and spiritual fortitude to admit the error and choose the correct road.
A man of integrity does not dwell on the proverbial fence, trying to have it both ways in an effort to avoid making hard choices or to benefit from either playing both sides against the middle or one side against another. He accepts that it’s a far better thing to make a decision and live with consequences that may lead him to the pasture of obscurity than it is to be everything to everyone and don a plastic laurel wreath of shallow public acclamation or indulge himself in the rotted fruit of personal aggrandizement.
It is the difference between a man who, if asked to choose between two radically different flavors of ice cream, declares, “My favorite flavor is this one because it is sweet and pleasing to the palate while the other is rancid and tastes like crap” from the man who says, “You are asking me to choose between two flavors of ice cream, and I won’t because I like them both.”
The former is a man of integrity who is known for his principles, the value of his word and his steadfast refusal to compromise either. The latter is a flip-flopping weasel.
So how does one determine if a candidate for office has integrity? That’s easy: observe how he responds to a question on a subject with which he is unfamiliar: