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Is the Internet the end of political waffling? Not quite

Long ago politicians earned the moniker of being 2-faced and envisioned as “oil can Harry’s”. But in the age of the Internet, where the public has almost instantaneous access to voting records, video of speeches, and transcripts of campaign pledges one might assume modern politicians would be more straightforward. You may recall what happens when you assume.

Case in point, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY22). In just the last few months he has either supported both sides of an issue and/or directly reversed his position or ignored constituent concerns. This justification of his ranking as the 5th most moderate Republican member of Congress [Bipartisan Policy Center - July 2012], though he ran in 2010 as a Tea Party conservative, has been achieved through careful wordplay and the assumption that voters aren’t paying attention to the details, in my opinion.

Here are some facts:

March 2013 -

  • The Drone Caucus (which Rep Hanna is a member) fails to mention legislation protecting 4th Amendment Rights in its 5 mission statements – http://unmannedsystemscaucus.mckeon.house.gov/about/purpose-mission-goals.shtml
  • 25th – Rep Hanna is pushing to get Unmanned Aerial Systems in sky by 2015 to promote job growth – http://wrvo.org/post/hanna-optimistic-upstate-new-york-will-land-drone-test-site

    April 2013

  • 24th – Rep Hanna skips Joint Economic Committee meeting on solutions to long-term unemployment – http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/the-poorly-attended-hearing-on-one-of-the-economy-s-toughest-problems-20130424
  • 24th – Rep Hanna publishes article promoting immigration reform to provide visas to foreign workers to gain STEM jobs – http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/science-technology-engineering-math-education-immigration-90517.html

    May 2013 -

  • 10th – Rep Hanna raises concern about impact of immigration reform on the unemployed seeking a job – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/10/heres-the-economic-advice-congress-is-getting-on-immigration/
  • 16th – CBS News reports 32 States considering legislation to limit drone use, 4 other have passed laws (not New York), Rep Hanna makes no comment – http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57584695/lawmakers-move-to-limit-domestic-drones/

    June 2013

  • 18th – H.R 1917 receives NO vote from Rep Hanna, who is on record as against late-term abortions. H.R. 1917 would deny abortions as late as 20 weeks unless the life of the mother is at risk – http://hanna.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3536&Itemid=

    July 2013

  • 24th – H Amnd 413, the Amash Amendment to restrict NSA from blanket gathering of phone and internet domestic data of general public, was voted on – Rep Hanna voted NO – http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/113-2013/h412
  • 25th – H.R. 2397, Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014, passed. Rep Hanna, in discussing his vote YEA, states he also voted for restricting NSA – http://hanna.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3557&Itemid=

    4th Amendment, abortion, immigration, and jobs all in just the first half of 2013. Plus pushing for technology to invade privacy without regulation and taking credit for a vote on an issue popular with the public that didn’t happen – a full roster of questionable actions. No matter what position a voter may have on these issues, Rep Hanna appears to have covered every base without actually taking a position that might endanger re-election hopes one may infer.

    The question should be asked if the lack of political fortitude stems from a lack of connection to constituents and their concerns on these issues? Is it shrewd political calculations to help fend off 2014 election challengers? Or is it a lack of understanding of the ramifications for the issues and legislation at hand?

    With all the advantages that modern technology affords it is still difficult enough for a voter to understand 2000+ page laws, secret courts, new technologies that are unaddressed by current law and so on. It is infinitely worse when elected politicians live up to the popular negative stereotypes that contribute to a 75% DISSAPROVAL rating of Congress.

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