The Complexities of Legislation

All Politicians Shift Positions



Editor, Times-Dispatch: I noted with interest the editorial cartoon that suggested John Kerry was a flip-flopper on major issues. Where does this notion come from? Who has a vested interest in voters believing it? Examining the votes and statements of almost any public official will find contradictions. Remember George Bush the Elder’s “Read my lips: No new taxes”? In April, 2001, our current President stated he believed “strongly in mentoring” in a speech to the Boys and Girls Club, then proposed a budget eliminating all $60 million in federal funding for that venerable institution. Second, the issues legislators confront are complex, and their votes on related legislation may cause unintentional harm to citizens. Legislation is complicated, the bills are lengthy and often difficult to understand (ever try reading one?), and they might be laden with “vote-busting” amendments – for example, to fund programs and projects antithetical to the legislator’s ethics. There might be many reasons to vote against a bill other than the merits of the primary legislation. Look critically at some of the Kerry “flip-flops,” and one will find examples of these complexities in choosing to vote for or against specific bills. I hope that, rather than accept negative campaigning uncritically, we all begin to question what we are told and seek further information. Judy Thomas. mechanicsville.

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