The Problem With Campaign Promises (Editorial)

We empathize — truly — with Leigh Nogy, the former secretary of the Benton County Republican Committee, who said she was “stressed beyond my norm and was on a deadline” when she made a very bad editorial decision to publish a violent rant written by her husband, committee member Chris Nogy.

We know too well the stress of an impending deadline and the temptations that come with it.

The Nogys have both resigned from the GOP committee, and Chris Nogy has gradually backed away from what seemed like a heartfelt opinion that voters should “have no problem simply walking up and shooting” elected officials who stray too far from their campaign promises. In this case, Republicans who ran in opposition to Obamacare but ended up voting for the “private option” to expand Medicaid coverage in Arkansas.

(Indeed, Nogy originally suggested that forcing government officials to toe the political line was the ultimate intent of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. That was a new one on us.)

We figure Chris Nogy was just popping off, the way people do when they are angry and frustrated. And as far as we can tell, his ideas about capital punishment for unpopular votes don’t seem to have gained any traction.

But the episode does remind us of a fundamental problem with campaign promises: They often can’t be kept, and sometimes shouldn’t be. And elected representatives need to feel free to change their minds if conditions change, as they clearly did with the private option.

The voters still have the power to punish politicians at the polls. But may the saints protect us from politicians for whom being re-elected is more important than doing the right thing. No politician should fear for his life, but any politician worth title and power should be willing to lay down his political life for the good of the state.