Kindergarten Politics | Commentary by Bryan Caforio

This past weekend, Donald Trump once again showed us what kind of man he is and the kind of character he possesses. While most people paying attention had come to expect this type of behavior and rhetoric from the Republican presidential nominee, many Washington Republicans feigned enough shock to withdraw their support. Rep. Steve Knight was among them.

Over the past year and half, Donald Trump made it abundantly clear that he is unfit and unqualified to be president. Throughout his campaign, Trump has spewed sexist, racist and bigoted rhetoric. He insulted immigrants, he mocked the disabled, he disparaged the Gold Star Khan family, and now we all know he bragged about sexual assault. It’s a pattern of disrespect and behavior that Trump has made clear he won’t change.

Donald Trump didn’t become the Republican presidential nominee all on his own. Republicans like Steve Knight should have (and could have) stood up from the very beginning and made it clear they wouldn’t tolerate Trump’s ugliness. Instead, Knight stayed silent and watched his party encourage Trump’s rise.

Knight’s last-minute statement criticizing Trump just 30 days before Election Day wasn’t a brave moral choice; it was a calculated move to make a last-ditch effort to save his fading chances for reelection.

That’s why it’s so patronizing to hear some Republicans talk about principles and standards. To the rest of us, it seems like they care a lot more about partisanship and self-preservation. Knight and his fellow Republicans stuck with their party until they realized they were about to lose.

The way they act in Washington is no different. Their political party comes first, creating a never-ending cycle of obstruction and gridlock. Problem solving for the American people is an afterthought, if it’s even considered at all.

Steve Knight is the poster boy for partisanship. Knight said he wouldn’t be a “wishy-washy” Republican who would work with people with differing views. Knight even proudly proclaimed: “I hate the term ‘work across the aisle,’” and “partisan politics is not a bad thing.” The Ventura County Star wrote an entire editorial criticizing Knight’s lack of independence, but that didn’t stop him from taking party-line obstructionist votes directly affecting our communities.

In his short time in Congress, Knight has voted 28 times to block legislation to prevent potential terrorists from purchasing guns; voted eight times to block consideration of fully funding an emergency Zika response; and voted 11 times to repeal or dismantle the Affordable Care Act with no viable replacement.

That’s not the kind of leadership we need in Washington. Every day, we all face challenges, but we can’t just throw our hands in the air and call it quits because we don’t agree with someone. And we can’t sit idly by while watching group after group get bullied, attacked and insulted by the big kid with high ratings. We aren’t in kindergarten, and politicians need to stop acting like they are.

Now more than ever, we need to work together to beat back this ugliness and break through this gridlock. In Congress, I will represent our communities – all of them – and live up to the responsibility of an elected official.

Bryan Caforio is a candidate for Congress in California’s 25th District.

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