Mission creep, according to Miriam-Webster is: “the gradual broadening of the original objectives of a mission or organization.”
This term originated because of the U.S. involvement in Somalia back in the early 1990s. President George H.W. Bush sent American soldiers to Somalia to feed the starving people in that war-torn country.
Over time the goal of that humanitarian effort gradually changed to nation-building under President Bill Clinton where the U.S. became involved in getting rid of a warlord and attempting to set up a stable government. The result was the shoot-down of an American Blackhawk helicopter and the death of several American soldiers. The U.S. pulled out of Somalia shortly thereafter.
I am reflecting on a Republican flier I got in the mail last week endorsing both Republican candidates and three nonpartisan candidates in the city of Enumclaw and on the Plateau. Along with Reagan Dunn, Phil Fortunato and Morgan Irwin’s names were mayoral candidate Jan Molinaro, Enumclaw City Council candidate Steven Cadematori and fire commissioner Paul Fisher.
My reaction was that the local Republican Party was involved in mission creep.
Molinaro, Cadematori and Fisher are all running for nonpartisan positions. What is the Republican Party doing endorsing three nonpartisan candidates?
I sent an email to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission to see if this was permitted. I got a quick response that it was perfectly legal. This information troubled me deeply. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it ethical or moral.
The local Republican Party has crossed the line of morality. I had been given a warning that the Republicans were thinking about doing this early in the campaign, so I decided to check it out with the local Republican precinct committee chair. I was told that endorsing or supporting nonpartisan candidates was not permitted.
Only when I saw the names and faces of nonpartisan candidates on the Republican flier did I realize the precinct chair was mistaken. Republicans have crossed a red line.
Nationally, the Republican Party is at war with itself. Their Republican president is at odds with several in his own party in the Senate, McCain and Corker to name two. These men have been roundly criticized in presidential tweets. They have responded with just as caustic tweets and comments.
Steve Bannon, former presidential adviser, is on a campaign to unseat establishment Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and replace him and others with alt-right candidates.
Democrats are only a little healthier while they struggle to redefine themselves as a political party. There are some who want to move to the left and follow the lead of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Others want to stay in the center, which seems to be fast disappearing.
Both political parties are so caught up their internal civil wars and battles with their opponents, they have forgotten that the job of elected officials is to serve the common good.
Examples: The unsuccessful attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump is attempting to demolish it by refusing to fund the program, potentially causing it to collapse under its own weight, leaving millions of Americans without medical insurance.
Republicans in Congress are gearing up to pass massive tax cuts that will balloon the deficit. During President Barack Obama’s administration, Republicans demanded a balanced budget. Now that they are in power that mantra has been replaced by tax cuts that will mainly help the wealthy.
So why are local Republicans now trying to influence small-town elections by endorsing nonpartisan positions? Are they trying to spread their sickness further down the political food chain? Shouldn’t the Republicans be working to get their state and national candidates elected and let local government be free from partisan politics?
Republicans might argue that former independent Democratic State Rep. Chris Hurst sent out an endorsement flier of four Enumclaw city council candidates. That’s comparing apples to oranges. Hurst endorsed candidates he preferred with his own money. He does not represent the Democratic Party. The Republican argument doesn’t hold water.
We are seeing Republican mission creep in nonpartisan local elections. When we saw mission creep in Somalia, it ended in disaster. Local Republicans need to rein in themselves and not copy their national Republican counterparts – for the good of the nation and the good of the party. It may be legal according to the PDC, but it is neither moral, ethical nor good for small-town politics.