I had the good fortune of meeting with Allan Kittleman for breakfast this morning. It doesn't take long talking with Allan before your hear about his father, Bob Kittleman. Allan and I are very similar in that we model ourselves after our Dads. My father is a business leader that is heavily involved in the community and has always impressed upon me that compassion is a root virtue that guides everything else. Allan's father told him that "being a politician is an honorable profession" and I don't think I am going too far into the realm of flattery to say that Allan has lived that maxim out.
While he may have never said it, Bob Kittleman also proved that "being a Republican is an honorable profession." Many people don't know this, but Bob Kittleman was president of the Howard County NAACP. In that position, he helped integrate schools in the 1960s, when that was not exactly a politically popular thing to do. In talking about his father's experience during this period, Allan said that they would have to move their beds away from the windows just in case someone threw something into the house. Nonetheless, he pressed on for what he believed was right.
Bob Kittleman was known for shunning lobbyists and giving people a government they could be proud to support. This was before "lobbyists" became the buzz term that a politician could use whenever he wanted to attack his opponent or prove his integrity.
By taking on social justice and enforcing good government, Bob Kittleman made the Republican party grow. He didn't hold up banners asking people "who they hell they think they are." He didn't threaten people with tax increases. He never pretended he was a political messiah. He merely offered himself as a plain-spoken man with personal convictions of right and wrong that wanted to make politics honorable. Most importantly, he knew who he was, and wasn't going to have that defined by others. For over two decades, that message resonated positively with the voters.
I think all elected officials can find a lot to aspire to in Bob Kittleman, but most importantly, I think Howard County Republicans need to go back to his message. Social justice is a primary goal of government. I will say that again, social justice is a primary goal of government. Taxing, spending, pensions, entitlements, etc., is all ancillary. Those aspects of government are easily corruptible and, in many cases, too complex for you or I to understand. We may think we do in a very Tarzan way: Tax bad, cuts good. However, unless you are an accountant or politician, you probably don't know what you're talking about once the nitty gritty comes into play. However, we all understand social justice. We all understand equality. Those things are what make monuments. They make us proud to be Americans. They give us a government we can be proud of. They make being a politician an honorable profession.
Bob Kittleman understood that. His son does too.