Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Snow Day! Let's talk Politics.

I was struck by an article today about the Florida Governor, Rick Scott.

We had a lot of fun poking fun at the guy in the election, and excoriating him for his anti-democratic voting laws, among other things.

But, this article notes that in recent weeks, he has made some surprising 180 degree turns on several subjects, including the ACA and Medicaid expansion.  One thing he cited as a reason (one of several, he said) for changing his mind was his mother, who died last year.  Apparently, they were poor, and poor enough his mother at least considered putting him up for adoption at one point.

One of the comments to the article was a terrible recounting of his past actions in favor of the Tea Party, and saying that nobody should believe his turnabout, etc., etc.

Yes, the article does recount how he endorsed the TP in his first year.  Don't forget, the TP was in its ascendancy then, and it was, in a lot of places, fairly popular.  Such things attract politicians, as they carry votes they need to win.  Today, not so much, and Scott's popularity ranking is basically in the toilet.

Accordingly, he is going around endorsing the Medicaid expansion he has decided for, early voting periods and several other much more center of the road positions he was against last year.

Horrors!  The man changed his positions!  He must be a - gasp! - flip-flopper!

Actually, I can admire a man ((or woman) who can reasonably tell the voters that circumstances - and the voters - have changed his/her mind about something.  A person who cannot or will not change their mind upon encountering either new information or hard and fast opposition is called a hard liner and is usually too stubborn for anybody's good.

Don't get me wrong, someone who changes their minds to follow however the wind blows whether from new information or not is nobody to follow either, but there is a difference here.  One can be a principled person with reasonable beliefs and be able to change one's mind upon being presented with new information or upon being persuaded by someone else with a good argument.  That is a good thing, and is something every politician should be encouraged to do.  It's called being a good skeptic with an open mind.

The main thing I want to talk about is that we have, supposedly, a democracy.  It is a representative form of government that is technically a federal system.  The representatives are elected to represent their constituents' interests in a body we call a Congress, or a legislature.  The President and VP are also elected to represent us in their Federal and centralized positions.

In this kind of system, instead of being sent there to represent themselves and their own interests, they are supposed to represent ours.  Yes, we like principled people with strong morals, but - and this is a big but - we expect them to do what WE want them to do, not what monied interests would pay them to do or what they want as members of a political party in opposition to our wishes as their constituents.

So, when a politician stands up and supports positions that are different from previous policies he has taken and those new positions are obviously popular ones, why do we tend to look down on that person?  Isn't that what we expect them to do?  Especially a sitting Governor!  If he is asked by a reporter, "Did you take these positions to get re-elected?" I would fully expect him to answer honestly, "Yes!  I did, because these are the things that are important to my constituents and I want to do what is good for them!"  That is an honest answer, and one I would be impressed to hear.

What are your thoughts?


Don Wharton said...

Post it on the DC Atheist Meetup and see if you get discussion going.

Robert Ahrens said...