I confess: I am a political junkie. I got my first taste in 1980 when Ronald Reagan won the White House. I was too young to know what he believed, but that didn’t stop me from staying up late to watch the results. I was probably the only third grader the next morning talking about exit polls at the cafeteria lunch table.

I suspect many of my friends did not vote for President Obama in 2008 and would not have voted for Nancy Pelosi if they lived in her district. Frankly, most of them are more likely to vote for Katy Perry in 2012 than to give the president a second term.

But my defense of the nation’s most powerful democrats isn’t about policy or ideology; it’s about passion and principles.

It hasn’t been that long since we had a president so consumed with polling that it defined how he led and where he vacationed. Like many before him, they move with the political winds to ensure another day and another term. So many across the spectrum lead by staff-drafted talking points, one wonders if they’re hardwired that way, unable to take a stand and defend it.

During the most recent midterm election cycle we saw a prominent senator switch political parties because he admitted publicly it was the only path to reelection. Whether democrat or republican, turning your back on the party whose checks you’ve cashed for decades doesn’t seem like passionate, principled leadership. It’s notable that this particular senator will be fishing during the next session of Congress.

Many members of the House of Representatives, sensing the likely tidal wave from one party to another, declined to seek reelection altogether. Better to retire on their terms, they reasoned, than to put their beliefs, their voting records and their principles on the ballot one more time. What a shame they were so afraid of being convicted for their convictions.

In order to win nominations, most democratic horses run to left to appeal to their base. Horses on the right do the same in the opposite direction. It’s a time-honored tradition.

If they’re lucky enough to become the nominee of their respective party, these horses suddenly gallop back to the middle and work long hours to become more palatable to middle America. After all, they’re the ones who typically determine who wins and loses national races.

It’s a dance that takes place every four years, and if you listen closely you can already hear the music playing for 2012.

Given the culture of leadership by polls and public opinion, it’s almost refreshing that the current president doesn’t give a hoot about public polls.

Whether you agree or disagree with the president’s health care overhaul, it’s law because he believed in and fought for it. He found enough to support among democrats, even in the face of an electorate who largely disagreed. Many of those democrats, including more than a dozen freshmen that spent just two years in the House, voted their conscience and are now back home polishing their resumes.

Political suicide? Yes. Worthy a dose of admiration for making a difficult vote that ended their career? I say yes.

Consider soon-to-be former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. You may not agree with her on policy, and polls suggest not many of us don’t, but that doesn’t stop her from fighting for the agenda she believes in.

History suggested that when the Speaker led her party to historic losses in the recent midterms, she would resign from party leadership and, perhaps, from the House itself.

She didn’t. She believes in what she believes, and until someone challenges her and sends her home, kudos to her for fighting and for unwaveringly representing the will of her constituents in San Francisco. You may not like her principles, but at least she is principled.

The same can be said for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It might have been easier for Reid to back off the Obama/Pelosi agenda. But during the race the Harry Reid on the ballot was mostly the same Harry Reid voters in Nevada have known for years. Once again, you might not agree with his principles, but at least he has them.

To be clear, this is not an endorsement of these leaders or their positions. But in a day when politics is a nasty, personal business, where most politicians are driven by job security and polls, PR spin and staff pressure, here are three whose poll numbers aren’t high and who don’t seem to care.

At least they know what they know, and believe what they believe, and there’s something to be said for that.

Imagine a country of leaders who lead by conviction, where the debates are fair and honest, and where you never have to wonder what are elected officials believe.

Or for how long they’ll believe it.


  • http://www.mvpcaps.com Red Bull Hats

    Good post. I am also going to write a blog post about this…I enjoyed reading your post and I like your take on the issue. Thanks.

  • Red State Eddio

    If we are simply judging the Terrible Troika on the singular basis of leadership driven by an internal set of principles, then I’d agree with you that they would rank highly on that scale. You do not embark on nation-changing agendas like we’ve seen with an eye fixated on the polls. Polls be damned, in other words.

    But isn’t this really the ‘sincerity’ argument being applied to politics? I sincerely believe that my ideas are the best ideas, so I will put them forward, come what may. Because I sincerely believe them, therefore they are right. On a relative scale, this may work. Having an internal consistency (or reliability) with your personal as well as public governance shows some set of “principles”.

    But in logic, while internal reliability is a key ingredient, you also need external validity to verify the true worth of your position. This validity determines whether the idea is sound in reality, or it should be dreamed up only in children’s fantasy books. Usually it’s the premise that is faulty. So even if everything else seems “logical” and consistent, the faulty premise destroys the position.

    This is where the Terrible Troika blew it. Their starting points, as well as the direction from that point on, have been utterly out of touch.

    And by the looks of the effects of these policies over the last 2 years, it’s being proven economically as well as politically to be an abyssmal failure.

    So while I grant you they’ve been consistent with their values and principles, they’ve been a consistent flop.

    So here’s my Q for you, Oh Esteemed Editor (may he live forever!):

    If being principled means that you may act in a “partisan” way (meaning only accepting your own position as best, and not entertaining the other side’s position), and the O-Child was dubbed as the first “post-partisan” president (conciliatory nad centrist), how is it possible that he could have been both principled and post-partisan at the same time?

    • Brian H

      “How is it possible that he could have been both principled and post-partisan at the same time?”

      Very good question, Red.


    • Brian H

      The canard of post-partisanship is over. As it should be. We elect candidates to not be “above partisanship” but to actually be a partisan, fighting for the issues we hold care about.

  • Whodat

    Wow. By your reasoning, I should feel bad about every rattle snake, every copperhead, every scorpian I have ever killed. Throw in a few hundred thousand fire ants and other vermin I have ravaged with a total disregard for their feelings or that of their families… A vermin is a vermin…

    May I suggest that you rent the movie Patton again for only the opening monologue? It is about winning, good over evil. It does not grant any remorse for vanquishing the enemy, but rather, stresses the importance of beating them for the sake of defeating their misguided goals and ambitions…

    To suggest respect for the Obama/Pelosi/Reid axis of socialism is to suggest that those things they espouse have any value whatsoever. They do not. Where was the value in the writings of Marx or the actions of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro… Any differences between the more infamous socialists and these pretenders are measured in degrees, but neither in direction nor intent.

    Me, I want their complete humiliation, unending and uncompromising, to see them scorned and driven from the stage of American politics, and remembered as the liars and frauds and enemies they are of all we hold dear.

    Proving that I am a mellow and sensitive guy, please note that I have not suggested Hara Kari…

  • Sartho

    Sure, there’s opportunity to say they’re principled and believe what they push for in politics. But being principled is not mutually exclusive to being delusional and dishonest as well, which describe the democratic leadership trifecta quite well.

  • Brian H

    Pelosi is from one of the safest liberal districts in America. Her unwavering commitment to leftist policies does represent her constituents, however, it did not take political courage for her to sacrifice her Democratic colleagues for an agenda that she would not suffer the same political backlash from implementing. Her and her liberals are now all that is left of the Democratic Party in congress due to the “shellacking” that the fly-over “blue-dogs” took in November as a result of her leadership.

    I don’t believe that the Dems who supported Obama-Care did so knowing that it would result in their unemployed status and that they took a courageous vote based on principle. They believed the political miscalculations of the Obama administration and Pelosi that told them that this would become more popular after it was enacted. Had they based their votes on principled actions, I believe they would have openly run on their votes and would not have run from them during the 2010 elections.

    Arrogance and power should not be confused with principled leadership.

    • Brian H
    • http://www.politicalderby.com/ Jason Wright, Editor

      You might earn a debate on the Pelosi point, in terms of how she reps her district, but you can’t deny she believes what she believes and hasn’t flopped. You think she likes having negatives in the sky? Being loathed by conservatives and a majority of independents?

      Just because you disagree with people doesn’t mean they’re not principled. Just means they’re not YOUR principles.

      • Brian H

        Very good points, David.

        I am suggesting that her commitment to her ideology simply did not come with the same ramifications that others in her party had to face, therefor, principled as believing in what she advocates is true, but, principled in the sense of taking the risk that she asked to others to take, I am not so sure.

        One could argue that Pelosi pushed through Obama-Care despite the overwhelming opposition and that her push to get it passed was principled. Unfortunately, I do not give her that much credit. I think Pelosi is not very bright, and, living within her bubble of Cali and D.C. she actually believed that the opposition she was seeing at the townhalls were, in fact, staged “astro-turf”. I think at the end of the day on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Pelosi was SHOCKED to learn that her march to pass health care reform was being rejected.

        Very interesting topic.

  • http://www.wildfiretreasures.com/ Troy La Mana

    I don’t demonise the Left. I just don’t like their stands on the issues. I get pissed off when one of those yahoo’s starts messing up my country. I think I even said it on here that you can’t respect one president for standing on principles and hate Obama for standing on his.