June 09, 2004
Recently one of the people I work with made a statement that got me to thinking. We were chatting about the difference between the way the current administration and the Clinton Whitehouse made decisions. She felt the idea of taking a poll to determine if an idea was going to be popular was the wrong way to come up with a course of action. Now, I knew she was referring to the Clinton habit of putting polls in the field at least weekly to gauge the public response to current programs and future plans. I understand the thought process. If we had taken a poll on slavery in the mid-1800's Slaves wouldn't have been freed. Regardless of what people may think today, the vast majority of the country was very much against the idea carte blanche. And let's not forget suffrage, women may have never won the vote. These were issues that the better part of the voting public was against and the men (and women) that stood up and spoke out on these things weren't very popular. So when someone says "Governing by polls is a bad thing" I can see where they are coming from. That being said...We are a representative democracy, commonly referred to as a republic. Which is why I'm all in favor of at least taking the temperature of the public before basic policy decisions are made. I'd like to make a very scaled down analogy. 16 yrs old and you ask your parents if you can go to a party. They say that's fine and you can even take the car if you want, but no using drugs at this party, no sex at this party, and no drinking at this party. BEFORE you arrive at the party you have a few beers. AFTER the party you drop acid and have unprotected sex. You go home hammered and tell your dad about the great piece of a** you just nailed. But, you can't understand why he seems so angry. "I said no drinking at the party!""Dad, we drank BEFORE the party...""I said no sex or drugs at the party!""Dad, that was AFTER the party..."Seems pretty dumb don't it...Well, that's essentially what our public officials are doing if they don't take the time to ask us if something is o.k. Four years is a long time and to think that because the American people saw the logic in something in Nov they wouldn't see if differently a year later is very Naive. Would anyone had supported attacking Afghanistan on Sep 10th? (Just for the record I've been watching the Afghan thing for years and I supported doing something about the Taliban about the time they started blowing up Buddhas). Now, I'll admit that the unpopular choices I mentioned above, Slaves & and Women's rights, wouldn't have passed the litmus test of a poll. But using the same example as above, If your parents had told you not to pick up strangers and you came upon a man that had been shot would you leave him there to die? We put our leaders in positions of leadership and expect them to act on our behalf. That doesn't, however, mean that they shouldn't ask if something is o.k. with us more than every 4 years. And if you don't agree with me on that...That's cool, but remember that when politicians do something you don't like, well, who asked you?