Steve Hansen: In praise of flip-floppers

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By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously observed, “The rich are different.”

If the Super PACs to which the wealthy donate millions of dollars are any indication, they differ greatly from most of us, who find ourselves inching ever downward on the economic scale.

The rich, it seems, like to pour anonymous, but influential millions into strict liberal and conservative PACs that brook no compromise. To get the most generous portions of this cash, candidates run on pure ideology, not reason or public service.

The rest of us, who can’t give our voices the same weight, are looking for opportunities to advance economically (remember “upward mobility?”), real education and training for ourselves and our children, reasonable protections of our health and safety, and fair treatment under laws that can be understood.

We don’t care what path gets us there. Budget brinksmanship and the “sequester” have demonstrated that pure ideology gets us nowhere.

I argue unequivocally that compromise is what makes America great, and I praise the flip-floppers.

Flip-floppers understand that the job of a public official is to serve the will of the people who elected them, not just the ones who financed the campaign.

The will of the people is subject to change. Sometimes responsible public officials have to do what’s best for the country, and that, too, often veers from ideological purity.

Looking back over our history, compromise between pure democracy and individual state sovereignty resulted in the U.S. Constitution, which has withstood the test of 240 years.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850 are credited with delaying the Civil War by decades.

Bill Clinton’s willingness to meet Newt Gingrich half-way, after a short disruption, kept the nation prosperous in the 1990s.

We still need that spirit of compromise, but so far, the candidates are running in primary contests to be seen as the most liberal or conservative, responding to dollars, not voters.

I don’t see anyone running based on practical solutions to the problems that plague the people who will actually elect them, and wonder when the candidates will start listening to us.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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