To the editor:
“Pivoting” in the political sense is generally about messaging and choosing which issue to emphasize. In some cases, it is reshaping of a message to speak only to your base; in other cases, the message speaks to a broader audience.
Sometimes the reversal of a position is no different than flip-flopping. The problem a politician has when he employs the pivot to send one message to his base and another to a broader audience is that he can be seen as lying or at the least disingenuous to a large segment of his constituents who live in the Congressional District he represents.
A friend of mine shared a letter Greg Walden, our Congressional representative, wrote his supporters on Aug. 3. The purpose of the letter was to raise money and to win continued support from his base. He used language of fear and urgency to make his point. In doing so, he described the vast majority of those who came to his town hall as agitators and disruptors.
“The most liberal agitators in Oregon are organizing against me like never before,” Walden wrote.
“The crowd that wants to kick ranch families off the range, have the federal government seize control of water rights and impose more federal regulations on those trying to create jobs, have launched the most massive and organized campaign … They packed my town halls. Many drove from Portland to scream, chant and shout me down.”
I was at his town hall meeting in The Dalles. I saw who attended the meeting. Most folks were people I knew who lived here, some were friends and acquaintances. They represented a broad spectrum of his electorate; Democrats, Republicans, Independents and non-affiliated. I did not see what he described in his letter. I did not see or hear citizens who were outsiders. Some of his constituents who did speak were angry. Some were upset. Others were more reasoned, and nearly all made good points and spoke intelligently.
Mr. Walden complimented those who shared their view and said he appreciated and valued the discourse at the meeting. He defined the town hall as democracy in action. Walden uses language like this when addressing those who are not his base supporters: “I hear and respect your concerns. Your involvement in America’s political process is encouraging and welcoming.” So, which message of his am I supposed to believe?