I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Is Liberal A Dirty Word?

The National Journal recently released their ratings of members of Congress. They rated Senator Clinton as the 16th most liberal senator, while Senator Obama was rated as the most liberal senator in the United States Senate. The trends show that over the past 3 years, from his first year in the senate until 2007 when he was trying to win the support of the Democratic base support, his voting record shifted dramatically to the left. His rating went from a middle of the road 16th, to number one in 3 short years. Senator Clinton on the other hand started out as a middle of the road liberal and rose to number 8 in the ratings in 2003 and then dropped back in the pack again. It appears that Senator Clinton has been positioning herself as more of a moderate to win broader appeal for a general election, while Senator Obama has positioned himself as a staunch liberal to win the primary election. The question to be posed is this, if the candidates will sell their voting souls for a political victory, what will they do once they are elected?

How do we really know where they stand on any issue? If we can’t look at their voting records as an indication of what they believe, then what can we look into to educate ourselves? Should we listen to what they say on the political trail? As politicians, they will say anything in order to get elected. After all, former President Clinton promised to cut taxes in his first term and to allow homosexuals to openly serve in the military. The first President Bush made his infamous promise during the 1988 campaign, “Read my lips, no new taxes”. Politicians make careers out of promising everything to everybody, and then blaming the opposition for blocking their fruition of their promises.

The talented politicians are able to remain popular even after they fail to live up to a large percentage of their promises. President Clinton still remains very popular, even though he did not follow through on many of his promises. His supporters point to the “evil” Newt Gingrich for Clinton’s failings. President Reagan is revered by the conservative base of the Republican party, but he did sign an amnesty bill for illegal immigrants and was unable to control the congressional spending. Clinton is loved, in part, because of his never-ending fight with Gingrich and the Republicans. Reagan is loved because of his strong support for the military and his cutting of the tax rate from over 75% down to 28%.
As this political campaign whittles the field down to 2 major candidates, we are left to wade through the charismatic speeches, the political rhetoric, and the campaign promises to try to decide who will bring about the political progress that most closely resembles our own beliefs. We have to decide whether a candidate that pledges to withdraw all troops out of Iraq, regardless of the chaos that would surely ensue is the best to lead our country. Or do we choose a candidate that would keep our troops in Iraq until the Iraqis are able to maintain their own security. By the way, all reports show that the Iraqi security forces are rapidly taking over control of their own security. Do we choose a candidate that proposes to talk to any third world dictator without any prerequisites? Or do we choose a candidate who understands the naiveté of such a policy? Do we choose a candidate based solely on personality and charisma? Or do we choose a candidate that understands what it takes to be a President? Do we choose an untested and inexperienced senator from Illinois? Or do we choose a war hero and a seasoned senator from Arizona?

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