An essential aspect of good leadership is good judgment. I met Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick during his first primary season in 2016 at one of his “Ice Cream Socials” in Levittown. I remember having an extended conversation with him about the peril our country would face if Donald Trump were elected president. Since we both had careers in the federal government (he had worked for the FBI and I had risen to the ranks of the Senior Executive Service in the Department of Treasury), I appealed to his sense of public service and argued that this reality TV show host who had led a life of selfish narcissism and moral depravity would be unfit to lead our great nation where the priority of public service needed to be embedded in our first leader’s character. As usual, he was ambivalent and failed to express his point of view. I later learned though that he said he did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016 and I felt that my conversation with him had perhaps made a difference. As a fellow public servant, I was willing to give Fitzpatrick the benefit of the doubt.
Let me cut to 2020 when I learned an astounding fact about Fitzpatrick that to this day is inexplicable to me. I read an interview where Fitzpatrick admitted that he indeed voted for Donald Trump in 2020.
I was astounded.
How could a leader who continually markets himself as independent and moderate have exercised such poor judgment on this most essential aspect of our democracy; namely, the choosing of the most powerful leader in our country, and even the world? Did not Fitzpatrick hear his words in Helsinki when he publicly expressed more trust in Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence agencies? As a former FBI agent, was he not appalled by that allegiance to our sworn enemy? Did Fitzpatrick not hear his words about Charlottesville when he said that the murderous Nazi demonstrators were among the “good people” on both sides? Did he have a chance to re-listen to his misogynistic Access Hollywood videotape? How did Fitzpatrick feel about the cruelty to the kids in cages at the border? Who did Fitzpatrick hold responsible for the thousands of needless COVID deaths that occurred in our country due to his politicization of the public health crisis? Trump’s poor selfish ignorant leadership helped convince thousands of people to seek bogus remedies and refusals to get vaccinations that continue to this day causing needless suffering and death. How did Fitzpatrick feel about his constant lying, insults, and name calling? How was it even possible for a responsible, moderate Congressperson to vote for Donald Trump after witnessing four long years where this man weakened democratic norms and government institutions for his own selfish and ignorant objectives? Yet he did indeed exercise such poor judgment and was proud to reveal such poor judgment to his constituents.
It would have made more sense for Fitzpatrick to have voted for this political newcomer with no track record in 2016 and not voted for him in 2020. But he did the exact opposite. After witnessing the havoc Trump wrought on our beloved country for four long years, he judged him fit for another four years and cast his vote for him in 2020. Really?
But after witnessing Fitzpatrick’s votes, words and actions for the almost six years he has been our Congressman, looking back it actually makes sense.
I have also seen Fitzpatrick’s poor judgment in so many other critical affairs and votes. I have sadly come to see him not as a person of principle, but as an all too often visible cliche in American politics; namely, the party hack. He has lost sight of the concept of public service and has instead found the principle of practical expediency serving his Republican Party and the perpetuation of his own political power over Country. He chose not to have real dialog with his constituents in town halls to ascertain their needs and concerns, but instead chose to have endless photo-ops with his constituents to market an image (not the substance) of accessibility.
When it counted, he voted with the radical heartless Trump agenda. For example, he eagerly voted for tax breaks for the rich, but against the COVID relief package that would eventually help millions of Americans in need in the midst of the worst public health crisis in over a century. I could go on and on about his poor votes, words, and actions, but there is not enough space in this column to do so. Most significantly though, he towed the Party line on two critical votes: he failed twice to impeach the president who was so obviously unfit for office. And then he voted for him in 2020.
Even now, Fitzpatrick shows poor judgment in his silence about what happened after the 2020 election. Fitzpatrick fails to express outrage about Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election. He says nothing about his continuing communication and monetization of the Big Lie which ultimately led to the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol (his very own workplace) to obstruct the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Fitzpatrick has remained silent so far as well about January 6 House Committee hearings. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney is a profile in courage, risking her power, her position, and her Party for love of country as she vigorously pursues the bipartisan January 6 investigation. Sadly, Fitzpatrick has made the judgment to travel the less brave, more ignominious route of silent complicity.
We have had six long years of Fitzpatrick’s poor judgment, but have a chance to choose a new leader soon. Please vote for Democrat Ashley Ehasz in November to be our next Congressperson here in Pennsylvania District 01. We deserve better than two more years of Fitzpatrick’s poor judgment.