A politician has a few major considerations on which to base his vote: What will get me re-elected? What is good for my party? What is good for the country? What is good for democracy? The answer is not always the same for each question.
Profiles in Courage, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book written by President Kennedy, depicts a few cases where U.S. senators opted for a greater good and suffered politically because of it.
In the modern era, where party orthodoxy is stringent, most politicians believe that what is good for their party is good for the country, so that makes it easy to decide how to vote — especially if they represent a constituency that agrees with that view.
However, the highest criteria should be, “What is the best for democracy?” America’s history is one of widening democracy — of including women, including blacks, etc. The fundamental basis of America is the democratic principle that all citizens should have a voice in deciding their political fate.
Whenever politicians espouse a position that restricts voter participation, they are being unpatriotic and ignoring American values and history — even if it is the best thing for their party. More courage is needed.