“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” — Matthew 7:16
Can we judge a politician by their voting record? That depends upon whether we grant that if a politician is a tree, then their voting record is the fruit they produce.
Every Congressional bill is a conglomeration of absurd contradictions. If you vote “Yes” because you are in favor of a one part of a bill, you’ll be blamed for another part that you were against. The only way out of this dilemma is to never vote, which isn’t a solution.
There is no perfection in politics, only compromise. If you stay in office long enough, you’ll eventually have (technically) voted for everything, which tells us nothing.
A vote in congress is not a fruit, it is hardly even a gesture. A vote is the end of a long process of negotiation, the details of which we are rarely privy to. And yet it is in those details where we will find the fruit we need to judge the tree.
The fruit that a politician bears are soft skills: actions taken in the development of a bill, the skill of convincing your colleges, the ability to compromise on the small stuff in order to push through the big stuff, etc.
These soft skills are not recorded in easy-to-Google snippets, you can’t slip them into campaign speeches, you can’t make memes out of them and post them onto Twitter — and they always backfire on the campaign trail.
Soft skills leave no physical traces and their echoes die the death only silence can bring. And yet… Politics is a people-person game. How personable is your candidate?
Now go lift something heavy,