Let us bury Pat Tiberi’s political career, not praise it

I awoke to the news that my congressman, Pat Tiberi, is planning on resigning this week, less than halfway through his ninth term. 

Since turning this site’s attention from personal to more political matters early this year, I’ve spent considerable time criticizing him for his political cowardice, his lockstep association with Paul Ryan and the manner in which he’s allowed himself to be a useful idiot for Donald Trump. If you hit the “politics” tab over to the right, you’ll find no shortage of criticism of my soon-to-be former congressman. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of his. 

Normally at times like this, however, people will lower their rhetorical weapons and talk about the outgoing politician’s good works and good qualities, giving his political obituary the same positive, soft-focus treatment one sees in actual obituaries. Indeed, in the coming days I expect there will be no shortage of “Pat was a decent man and tried to do the right thing,” talk both from his political allies and political adversaries.

I have no interest in that.

Yes, from afar Pat Tiberi always seemed to be a nice and basically decent fellow and I can recall no scandals, political or otherwise, attaching to him. That, however, should be the most basic expectation of a public servant. Contrary to what the professional political class believes, one does not earn kudos for simply avoiding infamy or for not being a crook. 

Politics is not — or at least should not be — about any one public official’s personal values or qualities, his friendships or even his character. Politics is about one thing: using the democratic process to implement policies and provide the sort of governance which make life better for people. Politicians should be judged based on what they have done to advance the interests of the men, women and children they represent and to make our world a better place. They should also be judged, negatively, based on what they have done to harm those interests and to advance the agenda of those whose interests conflict with the betterment of society as a whole. 

On that score, Pat Tiberi is a failure and should be remembered as a failure. He has taken millions from the health insurance industry, the financial sector, pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists and he has made it his mission to do their bidding. Time and time again he made it his top priority to advance the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the most vulnerable. He has steadfastly refused to make himself accessible to his constituents and he has largely gotten away with it because his district is one of the more heavily gerrymandered districts you’re likely to come across. 

Among the things Pat Tiberi never did, and what his successor must be committed to doing: 

  • Protecting the civil rights and liberties of all Americans and all persons who wish to make America their home; 
  • Enacting policies which help restore the value of work in America by encouraging companies to invest in their workforces, give workers more power in the workplace and help provide for a secure retirement; 
  • Enacting policies which help ensure that all men, women and children receive the health care they need and to which they are entitled as a basic human right; 
  • Commit to strengthening and, where necessary, rebuilding America’s infrastructure and transportation systems;
  • Ensure that the financial markets and financial sector operate in a manner that is fair, efficient,  and transparent; 
  • Fight to protect and conserve our natural resources, make our air cleaner to breathe and our water safer to drink and restore America’s commitment to understanding and combatting climate change in concert with the global community; and
  • Whenever any of these efforts lead one to have to choose sides between the interests of businesses, the wealthy and the powerful on the one hand, and individuals, the less fortunate and the vulnerable on the other, stand on the side of the latter over the former. 

If Pat Tiberi’s political career had even attempted to embody any of these values and ideals, I’d be sad at learning about his impending resignation. He has, unfortunately, sought to undermine these values and ideals, often aggressively so.

As such I am quite happy to see him go and eager to welcome anyone who will take his seat and use it to make America a better place. 

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at Craigcalcaterra.com. He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.