I'm not sure if it's ironic, comic or just sad how some (or maybe a lot) of politicians seem to change their stance on issues depending on the polls.
Now compromise is part and partial in the world of politics but there is a difference between compromising and compromising your principles. And many elected officials don't seem to care about the difference just so long as they win that next election.
Now this malady strikes Democrats and Republicans alike and I know that most of you can cite examples of folks that seem to sway in the political wind just to get that coveted vote. And, many times the stance that they take depends on whether they are the challenger or the incumbent.
Take for instance our president and his position on the federal deficit. I was working out at the Y the other day and caught a news clip of then candidate Obama in 2008. He was at some campaign event and was railing on about President Bush's 9 trillion dollar deficit. He called it "irresponsible and unpatriotic" and spoke passionately about how our kids and grandkids were going to have to pay off that debt.
Now, fast forward five years and President Obama is presiding over an almost 17 trillion dollar deficit. Even with my limited math skills I know that that is nearly a 50 percent increase in the deficit in his first term alone. Now he is saying that he isn't interested in balancing the budget in the next 10 years — that the level of the deficit is manageable.
So what has changed in the last 5 years? Candidate Obama thinks 9 trillion is unpatriotic and irresponsible but that 17 trillion is manageable. Can you spot the difference — in 2008 he was the challenger and in 2013 he's the incumbent. Funny how your perspective changes isn't it?
Now, let's look at another high profile candidate — Hillary Clinton. First off, I don't want anyone to try to argue that she isn't a candidate for President in 2016. She may not be an announced candidate but I don't think anyone in the country believes that she doesn't want to be the President and is positioning herself for a campaign. So, with that being said, let's look at a major change in one of her stances
In 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act which basically said that the federal government would not recognize marriages between same sex couples for the purposes of federal programs. He was quite proud of the act and bragged about it. And Hillary publicly supported him wholeheartedly in that action. Now he thinks that the law should be repealed. And she has just endorsed the concept of gay marriages.
What has changed in the last few years? In 1996 less than 40 percent of the American public was in favor of gay marriages and no one can ever accuse Bill Clinton of not being politically astute so it was no surprise that he took the side of the majority of Americans in protecting traditional marriages. Now the polls have went the other way and somewhere between 50-60 percent of Americans think that gay marriages should be legal. Surely this can't have anything to do with Hillary's future political aspirations.
Page 2 of 2 - Like I said earlier, compromise is part of politics and quite frankly some views do evolve and change over time. Maybe President Obama and the Clintons have truly had an epiphany and now believe that their original views were incorrect. An optimist would like to think that; but the cynic would say that their views changed because it was the politically correct thing for them to do. No one can truly know what's in someone else's heart but I do have to say that the timing is sure interesting.
All I do know is that if we are true to ourselves (not just politicians but each and every one of us) then we will never compromise the core values that define who we are as a person — regardless of the ramifications. I may not agree with someone's political views but I can sure respect them if I think that they are holding true to their beliefs and not just swaying in the political wind of popular opinion.
I will end with this quote – "what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular." Words that we all need to live by.
Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.