Tim Pawlenty announces for President, grabs third rail of Iowa politics, earns mythical Edmund Burke Award.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) announced that he’d tell voters the “hard truths” as he campaigns for the Republican Presidential nomination. Ho-hum. We’ve heard that one before.

But listen up. Pawlenty opened his campaign today in Iowa by telling Iowans that he opposes federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol. In Iowa for gosh sakes! Next thing you know he’ll tell Floridians that he favors raising the retirement age for Social Security. Oh, but his campaign says that’s exactly what he’ll do next.

The great shame of democratic (and Democratic…and Republican) politics is politicians telling voters what they think the voters want to hear instead of what the politician really thinks. Pawlenty says he’ll be a different kind of candidate, and his first day is a sign that he means it.

Edmund Burke told his constituents 237 years ago that a representative owes them “his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving [them], if he sacrifices it to [their] opinion.” Following Burke’s example is one of the two highest ethical duties* of an elected official.

Pawlenty gets the mythical Edmund Burke Award for his ethanol position. Here’s hoping that politicians of both parties rush to follow his example.

 

*The other is the duty to heed Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote, ‘The temper of and integrity with which the political fight is waged is more important for the health of our society than the outcome of any issue or campaign.”

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