Tuesday, July 11, 2006
In her June 30 column, Susan Estrich argues Hillary Clinton's position on flag-burning is part of an essential strategy for Democrats to win back the Congress and the White House. She praises Mrs. Clinton for redeploying her husband's "triangulation" strategy.
What Estrich is basically advocating is that politicians prostitute their beliefs to whatever political winds will win the election. Having a spine or a clear set of core beliefs is a distant second to political power. Many Democratic activists are rebelling against this compromising, and Mrs. Clinton might be in trouble in the 2008 primaries unless they get, as Estrich says, "sophisticated".
This attitude (along with blind hyper-partisanship) is one of the worst aspects of modern politics. People who lament the lack of true statesmen in modern politics can blame these "moderates" for statesmen becoming an endangered political species. Principles are thrown by the wayside because getting votes is far more important. But why should I vote for anyone who will say anything to get elected? Why should I vote for anyone who cannot be relied upon to follow a set of principles and standards? When you elect someone with strong principles from either end of the political spectrum, you never have to wonder how that person is going to vote.
By no means is this a Democratic problem only. The Republican base has become very dissatisfied over the last decade as the GOP-controlled Congress compromised with disgraced ex-President Clinton. While George Bush has done some good things, some of his policies have had a decidedly leftward tilt. One of these policies is the "No Child Left Behind" act, which significantly increasing the federal government's role in primary and secondary education, where the federal government has no Constitutional authority. Another example is the anti-freedom and un-American travesty known as "campaign finance reform", which actually regulates the content of political speech.
While I will never vote for Hillary Clinton, I am nonetheless disappointed that she wimped out on the flag desecration amendment. As an opponent of the amendment, it would be nice to see someone of Clinton's stature stand up and give a principled argument as to why this is bad law, rather than trying to come up with a "Third Way" that is meant to gain political power rather than stand up for what is right.