11/01/06 — Pick a side, please: For some candidates, principles swing any way polls blow

View Archive

Pick a side, please: For some candidates, principles swing any way polls blow

The winds of change are blowing through the country again — just in time for the mid-term elections.

And, as usual, it is not just the voters who are thinking about jettisoning some of the old to make room for a few new.

Just listen to a few speeches from the hopefuls and the not-so-hopefuls who are hitting the campaign trail.

Every election season, it is almost uncanny how many politicians who spoke so eloquently for a position — or for their president — just a few short months ago are now ready to part company completely with that association they fought for so passionately.

In fact, it seems like some of the Republicans who stood and cheered President George W. Bush on in January are now sliding under their desks if he comes near their campaign headquarters.

And the same is true for some candidates’ positions on some of the most important issues the U.S. faces today as well.

How many times has an incumbent — Republican or Democrat — flipped when the political wind changed during a re-election campaign? Just look at a few prominent Democrats’ positions on the war in Iraq and following the bouncing rhetorical ball.

And then take a look at the calls for smaller government and lower taxes — and check to see who stood up and said no when the pork was passed this past year.

Although it is surprising how often they change, the chameleon-like policies of the candidates are nothing new to the political game. In fact, policy-making by polling is becoming a real factor in how elections are managed and how this country is governed.

What would be refreshing is to see someone — anyone — stick to his or her guns from Election Day until he or she gives up his or her seat in Congress or his or her desk in the Oval Office.

One set of policies, principles and answers is much easier to maintain and much cheaper to defend.

But to make that sort of stick-to-your guns philosophy work, barring the occasional need to adjust based on new information or facts other than poll numbers, we as a constituency have to demand it.

The problem is, we are fickle sometimes, too. What is important one week might not catch the electorate’s attention the next. And all of that could be eclipsed by one good campaign ad or Hollywood name-drop.

If we want substance and commitment to principle, we have to quite reacting to those who tell us what we want to hear. That will get their attention.

Published in Editorials on November 1, 2006 11:42 AM