Whenever stating a political opinion, making an argument or commenting on a news story, consistency is key.
Especially with recent issues like the sex scandals of Anthony Weiner and Bob Filner, the attempts at filibuster reform and the issues of privacy surrounding the NSA, many opinion makers have come across as hypocritical and inconsistent.
It’s important to ask, while thinking about any issue, “What would I think about this issue if the shoe was on the other foot?”
If I’m a Republican, for example, am I opposing the NSA’s security program because President Obama is in charge? If President Bush were in charge, what would I think? Is my stance on this based on something other than the partisan breakdown of those involved?
Failing to answer these questions beforehand leads to a lot of inconsistency and hypocrisy.
The New York Times Editorial Board, for example, was against filibuster reform in the when the Democrats were using it in the minority, and then in favor of it when the Democrats were in the majority.
Sex scandals are another issue where this hypocrisy is frequently a problem. Democrats attack Mark Sanford for having a mistress, but then support Anthony Weiner as he goes through his very public sexting scandal. Republicans support Newt Gingrich, but impeach Bill Clinton for doing virtually the same thing at the same time.
If an opinion is formulated purely based on the partisanship of the players in a particular story, it isn’t as intellectually honest as it could or should be. If people based their argument not on their partisan affiliation but instead on core beliefs they hold, the standards of political discourse could finally be raised to an acceptable level.
Keene is a senior majoring in political science, economics and public policy.