Thursday, January 13

An Interesting Question

On a comment, I was asked by Mr Larson (concerning polls):
What would you use to determine the electorate's feelings about certain pieces of legislation? It seems to me that until we have a better way polls are here to stay and serve a valuable function.
And I think I want to respond, off comment, because I have (I think) a larger point to make about polls that is rarely discussed. I think polls do us a great disservice. I think the tendency of politicians to use polls to probe the electorate's feelings betrays a large philosophical difference in opinion concerning how a politician should do his job. For I think a politician for the most part should ignore how the public feels about legislation while in office.

Let me state my position a little less provocatively, or at least explain what I mean a little better. I think a politician when running, should in as clear a manner as possible explain to the voters: who he is, what he believes, and how he intends to act. That is to say, clearly state his positions and principles. Then, when elected, he should trust to those positions and principles and legislate, or lead if in a executive role, based on his beliefs. What if he is at a loss as to what to do? An unanticipated event has him doubting his representation of his constituency. Then he might put the question to his public, ask for opinion and look to reasoned reply. Perhaps call and attend several "town meeting" discussion forums. Enter into debate. Read commentary. Then he should consult with his conscience and act.

I think polls are a corrosive and evil influence on the modern politicians, if and when they attend to them. The information they give is too inaccurate, too shallow, and too given to the shifting sands of public opinion. When the press (and we bloggers) call attention to them, I think we do our society a disservice.