I'm a Pundit Too

Sunday, May 6, 2007

What Do The Candidates Really Believe?

As we watch the political season heat up earlier each election cycle, we are treated to the video and audio clips of the candidates making speeches in a variety of locations, before a variety of audiences. One aspect of every speech seems to be the same, no matter where the speech takes place or who it is in front of. Most candidates seem to not only adjust their views, but, in some cases, even their accents.

On March 4 of this year, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both made appearances at churches in Selma, Al. to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the march for voting rights that led to “Bloody Sunday”. In our politically charged world, we have come to expect politicians to show up at any event to exploit the occasion for their political benefit. Hillary Clinton adopted a southern drawl in her speech that sounded like a bad comedy skit. Barack Obama also adopted a new “dialect” in his speech patterns that gave the impression of a fiery African-American evangelical preacher. Clinton also adopted her “accent” during a speech before Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network on April 20. I realize that she lived in Arkansas for about 20 years, but why would she only speak with southern accent in front of African-American audiences? Why does Obama need to change his speaking style when before African-Americans?

Politicians routinely appear in churches throughout the country to speak to the congregations before elections. You are almost guaranteed to hear the candidates quoting from the Bible as though they just read the scripture that morning during their devotions. I have no doubt that some of these politicians may actually be sincere, but too many times it is all too clear that a speech writer added the scriptural references to try to appeal to the congregation.

John Edwards constantly points out the two Americas that he sees today. Pointing out that there are two distinct classes in our country, the “haves” and the “have nots”. This is almost laughable when you see the pictures of his 28,000 square foot house, complete with an indoor pool, basketball and squash courts. Edwards has every right to have a house this large, but it seems a bit hypocritical. Edward’s wife was quoted as saying their neighbor’s property was “slummy”. That is an odd way to describe a neighbor who definitely would not be considered a member of the “haves”.

Rudy Giulani has emerged as the front runner in many polls for the Republican nomination. He has taken some criticism for his views on abortion and gun control while mayor of New York City. His reaction to the criticism has been to try to explain away his stands on these issues. If he believes in gun control than stand up and say you do and why you support it. Explain to us your reasons for your views on abortion. He is not the only candidate on either side to use this tactic to try to curry favor with the voters, but he is a good example. Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic candidate with whom I disagree on almost every issue, stands behind every view and decision. I believe he is wrong about everything, but I have to respect that he has the courage of his convictions. John Kerry during the 2004 campaign uttered the now famous statement, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.” This one statement epitomizes what most politicians will say or do to win your vote.

Politicians will say or do whatever their audience wants to hear or see, just to get their approval. In every campaign there are instances where a candidate will directly contradict themselves from an earlier speech. The campaign staff will scramble to come up with a “logical” explanation of what their candidate actually meant to say, and we all nod our heads in agreement. Why do we accept politicians that talk out of both sides of their mouths just to get votes? It is a forgone conclusion that a politician will promise you the world, but will never, ever deliver; but yet the voting public sheepishly follows along and hopes that this time it will be different.

I believe it is time we demand more of our candidates. We must realize that their will never be the perfect candidate that we agree with on every issue. We are going to disagree on some issues, we deserve an explanation of their view, and then it is up to us to make an informed decision. We should be calling the candidates on their obvious attempts of patronization. I believe we deserve candidates that have the courage of their convictions, who are willing to take a stand and accept the consequences or rewards for that stand. It is up to everyone of us on both sides of the political spectrum to hold the politicians accountable for the views and opinions.

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