With this election cycle, we’ve seen our politicians veering leftward after they seemed to take hard rights in the last few years. Mitt Romney seems to change with every audience, from Severe Conservative to the post debate Moderate Mitt. Obama hews to the center, veering rightward every now and again. Congressional candidate Chris Gibson has swung to the left of center now that his district has changed, after spewing gobs of tea party rhetoric in 2010.
That’s the way it is in the biz, right? They all do it, tailor their message. When they’re good they seem to have the same positions, maintaining a ‘plausible deniability’ all along, while changing the buzzwords and the attitude to match today’s voters, rather than yesterday’s.
Then there is, or was, Maurice Hinchey. Here’s a guy who ran every two years since 1972, either for State Assembly or Congress, winning all but the first. And every two years, talking to voters, whether it was his Watergate win in 1974 or his near defeat to the forces of Newt in 1994, Hinchey never, ever changed his beliefs, his language or his attitude. Never pandered to a flash in the pan constituency. His unabashed liberalism may have made enemies (like Fox News) as the years went by, but in the final analysis his strong core beliefs won more people over, voters from both sides of the aisle.
That’s the way it was with Hinchey — here’s who I am, and if you don’t agree, vote for the other guy. You knew voting for him what he’d be for, what he’d fight for. He never tried to fool you, or play you for a chump.
And the other side of it was, well, if you lose because of it, then you lose. At least you walk away with your integrity intact.
And that’s what we’ll lose, come January 1 — a representative with integrity, one who never tacked left or right depending on the audience or the year. He will be greatly missed.
But it’s a standard to keep in mind, and it’s your job and ours to see that our next representative lives up to it.