Cowboy Wisdom for the Week

Friday, June 27, 2014
by Patrick Dorinson

Winston Churchill once said, “Nothing is more dangerous than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup Poll-always feeling one’s pulse and taking one’s temperature”.

I was reminded of that quote as I was listening to an interview between President Obama and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

The President is fond of using poll numbers to make his case saying in effect that polls indicate that the people are with him on key issues like immigration.

To be fair President Obama is not the only politician to use polling data to make their point but he seems to have raised it to an art form.

But polls are only as good as the questions asked and of whom they are asked.

The media is constantly regurgitating poll numbers to make their point. Every day we are given poll numbers about how we feel about everything from politics to pop culture.

But polls are not always accurate and many times they get it all wrong.

If you want proof you only need to read about the 1948 Presidential election when two weeks before Election Day, Gallup and other polls said that Thomas E. Dewey would handily beat Harry S. Truman.

Another poll at the time, the Roper Poll was so convinced that they stopped polling in late September.

But Dewey’s lead shrank from 17 points in early September to only 5 points at the end of October.

At the same time a close friend of President Truman had traveled the country speaking to regular folks and upon his return to Washington he told his old friend to forget the polls because the people were with him.

There was no Dewey Administration.

If you want further proof of the fickle nature of polling consider that recently deposed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s pollsters told him right up to the election that he was ahead by a whopping 34 points.

Cantor should sue them for political malpractice.

As the Truman example indicates, polls only take a snapshot in time and do not necessarily predict the final outcome.

The problem with modern day polling is that we use it so much that they become self-fulfilling prophecies. People see a poll that says their candidate is losing and they then lose interest.

This country would be a whole lot better off if we suspended polling for a year and told the pollsters to take a sabbatical.

The other problem with polling is that we selfishly look at an issue as to how it will affect our lives in the here and now and not how it will affect future generations of Americans.

Perhaps that is a result of the Age of Narcissism and instant celebrity we are living in but it is not healthy for the future of the Republic.

So here is your Cowboy Wisdom for the Week.

And it comes from General of the Army and distinguished World War Two field commander, Omar Bradley.

“It is time to steer by the stars and not the lights of every passing ship”.

Taking the nation’s temperature and pulse too often means we are doomed to bouncing from issue to issue with no vision for the future.

Politicians today talk of their plans for America but not their vision of where these plans will take us.

As we approach the 4th of July, America desperately needs big leaders that can “steer by the stars”. Instead we have small ones who lead by the “lights of every passing ship”.

So the question this Independence Day is when will we demand that our leaders make the tough calls to ensure the nation’s future and not just make the easy calls to please the voters in the present?

Hopefully soon. Time is a wasting.