Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

April 22, 2013

Stumptalk: Governing by poll results

By Jim Sykes
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Are you qualified to respond to questions on the economy, the climate, gun control, gay marriage or any of the myriads of subjects of current polling? Do the pollsters select the people who answer the questions? Do any of those people have any special knowledge of the subject matter? What is the purpose of all these polls? What are the political leanings of the polling organizations?

Should our politicians and the media use the results of public opinion polls to determine governmental policy? We are now seeing opinion polls on every imaginable subject, even some subjects that most of us seldom even think about. Why don’t we see more polls on subjects that would solve the problems facing our country?

What happens when people who know nothing about the subject of a poll answers the questions and the results are combined into a totally uneducated result? If you haven’t researched the methods used for polling, you might be surprised to learn that many of the companies conducting these polls have a “desired result” before they compose the questions. Then they select the persons they believe will give the desired answers.

When elected leaders start governing by using the results of opinion polls instead of researching the subject matter and using the opinion of knowledgeable individuals, they no longer deserve their generous salary and benefits. It has been shown that the primary purpose of most public opinion polls is to influence the politicians and general public who are not otherwise informed.

History is filled with examples of bad things happening when people follow public opinion instead of standing by their principles. Public opinion can quickly become mob rule when violent people take the law into their own hands. You should not do anything simply because it’s popular. We must always attempt to do what’s right even if the crowd doesn’t agree with us.

Using the results of public opinion polls taken by organizations with a biased objective is how a small minority imposes their will on the rest of us. If we want our government to do what is right for the majority, we must stay informed on the important issues. We must not allow our legislatures to continue to rush through laws that they haven’t read and don’t understand. If the laws are too complicated for them to understand, what chance do we have to understand them?

If we believe in learning from history and how it can repeat itself, the history of the Roman Empire and the ancient city of Corinth were destroyed when their leaders followed public opinion and that lead to moral, social and political anarchy.

Those who believe the Constitution is a “living” document that must evolve to fit the times should use the procedure in that document to amend it. Religious leaders who try to change the meaning of the Bible to serve Man rather than serving God are not doing their job.

All of us have a responsibility to become informed about the issues of the day and the meaning of our Constitution. Then we must make sure that we hold our representatives accountable when they make stupid decisions that harm our country.