Just got this press release:
Dear Brad Warthen:
I write to inform you of the release of a new public opinion poll on whether leaders should listen to public opinion. In sharp contrast to views recently expressed by Vice President Cheney, this poll finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe government leaders should pay attention to public opinion polls and that the public should generally have more influence over government leaders than it does
These findings are part of a larger international poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, an international research project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. The poll of 975 Americans was fielded from January 18 to 27 by Knowledge Networks. The margin of error was +/-3.2 percent.
Please find the press release pasted below. You may access the press release, charts and a questionnaire at: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/
If you would like to speak with the principal researcher of this study, please contact Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org…
Program on International Policy Attitudes
Of course, I couldn’t resist answering the e-mail, as follows:
I disagree. I don’t know what Cheney said [and don’t much care to know, frankly], but it’s been my observation that the republic is being undermined by finger-in-the-wind governance. We elect people to do what 300 million people can’t all do — go to the capital, study issues, listen to people who disagree with them, and make the best decision they are capable of making. If they go by the gut, unconsidered reactions of people responding to "yes" or "no" questions, we get … well, we get the hyperpartisan, polarized, dumbed-down sort of governance we now have.
I didn’t even get into the fact that, if one thinks we shouldn’t govern by polls, why would one be persuaded otherwise by the result of a poll disagreeing with us? I felt sort of like I’d made my point without that.
I don’t think we elect people into positions to “do what we can’t all do…” blah blah blah. In this day and time we have way too much independent thinking by politicians that manifests itself in the form of rather wholesale abandonment of the electorate and any campaign promises made to it purely as a means of getting the politicians into office. Given that this happens over and over, it shouldn’t be too surprising that people feel their voices ought to be heard through polls. They don’t feel they are getting heard any other way.
We elect people to represent us. That essentially means we elect people to go either to the state capital or Washington DC and steer the state or the country in the direction we want it steered. I think many many more people in the population feel this way about it than feel as you do Brad that they are voting for people to go and act independently. This is precisely why there has been so much outrage at Lindsey Gramnesty. This is why John F’ing McCain has essentially no staunch conservative following. It is why George Bush lost on the Harriet Myers thing, and why the amnesty bill was turned around in a public rout.
I think you’re all wet. People elect candidates whom they think will carry their values and convictions into office and stick with them. I know I do. David
See, I don’t think your model gives the american public enough credit. This is not the 1940s, when people really didn’t know much about things and really did depend on their elected officials to do as you say.
People are very well informed today. We can inform ourselves on issues and then expect to elect people we believe will govern in accordance with our wishes. The fact that we are so well informed is exactly why we are so outraged when we send people like Graham up there and he stabs us in the back.
Politicians cannot be trusted as much as you’d like them to be. They have proven it over and over. It is that simple. Dvaid
We may elect them to do what you think they do, but they do a WHOLE lot more than that:
Work deals in their best financial interest, trade favors for power and prestige, set up family members and friends in patronage jobs, accept gifts, trips, and other perks from lobbyists, etc.
It’s the way that Rudy Guiliani increased his net worth 40 fold after leaving office… same for the Clintons… It’s why someone like Dick Cheney would give up a multi-million dollar salary… if you think it’s about public service and sacrifice, you are dead wrong.
The best solution would be term limits combined with line item veto. If eight years is enough for a governor or President, it certainly is enough for any other office.
By the way, I have been hearing Gramnestys’ reelection ads on WVOC during the last week. My gosh these ads are SUCH patronizing and insulting drivel! Every time I hear one of these abominations I get mad, because it reminds me of his duplicity and arrogance about judges and about amnesty for illegals. I am reminded that I was called one of the “loud” people by this snake-in-the-grass because I believe in a secure border.
Keep it up Lindsey. Every time I hear you attempt to rewrite your record in one of these ads you A) prove Brad wrong and B) remind me about what I have to do in November: Vote you out. David
Brad, I thought about you immediately when I saw the Cheney clip on TV, figuring that you would applaud Cheney’s line about not being “blown off course by fluctuations in the public opinion polls.”
It sounds like you didn’t actually see the clip; what you missed was the look on Cheney’s face in the following exchange:
RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.
CHENEY: So? (accompanied by classic Cheney sneer)
I basically agree with you that we elect leaders to make decisions and not necessarily follow the “blowing winds” of public opinion on every single issue at every single moment.
On the other hand, when our highest elected leaders take us in a direction so opposite to a strong majority view, dismissive, sneering disdain along the lines of “So?” is not the mark of great statesmanship, leadership, or unifying cross-partisanship. Cheney’s answer was the great summing-up of this administration’s approach to governance.
You said, “If they go by the gut, unconsidered reactions of people responding to “yes” or “no” questions, we get … well, we get the hyperpartisan, polarized, dumbed-down sort of governance we now have.”
But Bush/Cheney supposedly did NOT “go by the polls” in their pursuit of this Iraq experiment. So then how do you explain how we’ve STILL ended up with this “hyperpartisan, polarized” governance? It’s one thing to not follow public opinion. It’s another thing entirely to be actually hostile and contemptuous of sincerely held views of the majority of Americans.
Incidentally, as many others have pointed out, Cheney’s reference to “fluctuations” in the polls is baloney. Opposition to the war has remained a majority viewpoint for a length of time nearly as old as the war itself.
Gee Brad, isn’t that thing called an election we have at least every two years sort of an opinion poll? Maybe Brad thinks another model of “governance” is better, say maybe Stalin’s or Moussolini’s. Oh, that’s right, when we have some warmongering, coke-head, dry-drunk, liar invading countries who are no threat and dishonoring the United States, Brad knows which side he’s on.
At least in his first sentence, Steve in SC is right, Brad. An election is a poll. In fact, we vote at the polls. By definition, a democratic republic is governed by poll. There’s no way around it. The system is “finger-in-the-wind governance” every couple of years or every four or every six.
Here’s some more information regarding our beloved straight-talk Senator from Arizona. What is running for anyway, president of the Hypocrits of the World club?:
WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate John McCain has condemned the influence of “special interest lobbyists,” yet dozens of lobbyists have political and financial ties to his presidential campaign — particularly from telecommunications companies, an industry he helps oversee in the Senate.
Of the 66 current or former lobbyists working for the Arizona senator or raising money for his presidential campaign, 23 have lobbied for telecommunications companies in the past decade, Senate lobbying disclosures show.
MORE: McCain pushed tax ban backed by telecoms
McCain has netted about $765,000 in political donations from those telecom lobbyists, their spouses, colleagues at their firms and their telecom clients during the past decade, a USA TODAY analysis of campaign-finance records shows.
Tell you what, Bud. If you’re going to switch subjects to McCain, I’ll talk about your girl and your guy.
How ’bout Hillary turning out not to have the experience in foreign affairs she said she had?
How ’bout Obama turning out to be just another black candidate after all?