Friday, September 12, 2008

Actions Have Consequences

This is perhaps one of the most difficult posts I have ever had to write, because it concerns someone who I consider a friend, who I have supported politically, and who I believe has a heart of gold. It is especially disheartening because I have wholeheartedly believed in what this person has been trying to accomplish in the 4th Senate District all these many months.

The news broke this morning that Mike Faulk has had an affair with the now-former head of the Hawkins County Young Republicans, Ms. Kelli Walker. Since this has become public, I can tell you that I have known about this for several days, hiding the story even (as I am sure she will be keen to remind me) from my wife-Faulk has always been very good to both my wife and myself. I was told of the affair by a very reliable source who is well-connected within the Tennessee Republican Party who I do not believe for a second would lie to me, and whose political support of Faulk, like my own, cannot be questioned.

Mike Faulk has not officially responded to the allegations, and based on my conversation with the above-mentioned source nearly a week before the story broke, I believe that the story is true.

Knowing that is a hard and bitter pill to swallow for those of us who have supported Faulk since well before he ever officially announced that he was running for the State Senate. Many of us believe in the things Mike stands for, and have come to appreciate his outgoing personality and willingness to communicate with his supporters directly. Those of us who've supported his Senate bid have done so in good faith, believing that he had the resources and the political experience to take on a well-connected and lobbyist-funded foe in Senator Mike Williams.

Mike Faulk does have political experience. He was heavily involved in Lamar Alexander's successful 1974 campaign for Governor, and ran the 1978 campaign in House District 91 (Memphis). He has served on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, on the Hawkins County Commission, and he once ran for State Republican Chairman. In short, Mike Faulk knows what he is doing, and he knows how to win.

What makes this situation so baffling is precisely that reality: Faulk has been around politics enough to know that engaging in morally inappropriate or questionable behavior will be easily capitalized upon by one's opponents and be found out by the press. He is aware, surely, that such behavior can and will ruin someone's political career, and somewhere in the back of his mind he had to know that his own was at risk by his actions. Yet he risked his career and reputation on what St. Paul called "the pleasures of sin for a season."

Everyone in this earthly walk is a sinner, of course, and if I chose my friends solely based on whether or not they were morally pure, or whether they lived up to either my standards or God's standards, I would have very few friends in this life. Christ can forgive Faulk for what he has done, and perhaps He already has. Faulk's friends and political supporters may be able to forgive him. Perhaps someday even the young lady at the center of the storm can forgive Faulk for, she says, not acknowledging his role in the affair publicly or the role she says the relationship played in bringing down her marriage. Forgiveness, however, does not negate consequences.

In Catholic theology, we have something we call "the temporal punishment due to sin." Put in the most simplistic terms, this means that while God has forgiven a person of their sin, their actions still have consequences and they must pay them. Forgiveness does not remove the action of the sin or the consequences of the sin, it merely means that God will not hold that sin to your charge when you stand before Him at the Judgment. The consequences of a person's wrongdoing still must be dealt with.

In Mike Faulk's case, the reality that he knew what the consequences of his actions could be, yet continued engaging in morally deviant behavior speaks to his judgment. Were Faulk not involved in politics, what he did would still be equally heinous, but would be a private matter with sad but private consequences. In public life, the kind of behavior Faulk is accused of is a private matter that has very public consequences-it could cost Faulk not only the election, but what appeared to be a very bright political future.

I still consider Mike Faulk a friend, and I probably always will. His saving grace may be that his opponent also has a chequered past , but I'm not sure it is wise to make who can out-philander whom the central issue of an election campaign. Merely because he is a friend does not mean that Mike Faulk deserves victory. He himself has undermined his opportunity and has let down not only his supporters, but the people of the 4th District who deserve much better representation than what we currently enjoy.

Mike Faulk's "temporal punishment due to sin" may be that he can get the good Lord's forgiveness, and even the forgiveness of his political friends, but must pay for his actions with his political career.

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5 Comments:

At Saturday, September 13, 2008 9:16:00 AM, Blogger Jackie in the Holler said...

This is a gentle but strong message about the importance of moral values. Well said, Oatney.

It is sad that Mike Faulk has failed to step up to truth, and has instead layered on to his earlier and apparently false denials with words that seek to shift the blame to Kelli Walker.

It is even sadder that Ron Ramsey has side-stepped and failed to come our for truth and moral values in this case. Ron, please pray on this and join in speaking truth. This is one of those teaching moments. It is not worth it to sacrifice morality and eternal truth for earthly political power.

 
At Saturday, September 13, 2008 1:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post.

People are quick to dismiss this as a "what happens in the bedroom" yadayadayada non of my business. I too am Catholic and married. If my marriage is troubled at times well then we are normal. However, for someone outside of that marriage to make a judgment involving themselves between God's bond speaks volumes on character. When I got married the preacher (non-catholic wedding, I know)said "What God has put together may no man come between." She may have wanted to cheat but Mike should have removed himself from any involvement. Ron, please don't sell your self out for Mike's mistake.

 
At Saturday, September 13, 2008 1:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave,

I respect you more than words can express. You are extending your friendship to Faulk while also stating that your own belief system will not allow you to support his campaign any longer. If only our Lt Gov. could do the same thing. I live in this district, and have no need for a lying senator who can't be honest even when everyone knows the truth.

I posted anonymously on this matter some months ago, and you retorted to me about gossip and being a Williams supporter. I am neither, but did have proof this affair was true.For the sake of Kelli's marriage and 2 young children, I thought Faulk should have withdrawn from the race. He chose not to and now everyone except him is reaping the consequences. As voters, we have no choice but to help him accept personal responsiblity by voting his rear end right back to Kingsport.

Vera

 
At Sunday, September 14, 2008 6:37:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Vera;
In fairness, the deadline for him to withdraw (remember, he had to qualify for the ballot by February for the Primary) has long since passed, so he really has not been in a position to withdraw.

Just FYI

-DMO

 
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