Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Source Survivability

Remember the stages that sources had to complete before they could be used to penetrate the fog of history?

We had a good example of this during the last presidential election. Libertarian Ron Paul was making a stronger than expected run for the Republican nomination. He opposed the Iraq War, advocated the legalization of drugs, dramatically reducing the size of the federal government (and most importantly), allowing farmers to sell raw milk directly to customers. Okay, maybe no one else was concerned about raw milk, but his other stances cobbled together an odd coalition of libertarians, small government advocates, students, anti-war protesters, and let's face it, potheads.

Rumours surfaced about a series of constituent newsletters from decades ago contained passages opposing the "black animals" taking over our cities. Paul denied that there was any racist overtones in his letters, but declined to provide copies - saying that he no longer had any. He probably hoped that none of the newsletters had survived. An enterprising reporter found them in a university library archive collection - and they were bad. Mainstream Americans were horrified and his campaign fizzled. (Note: Paul claimed that a ghostwriter had inserted the numerous passages without his knowledge, but most observers were skeptical of his reliability).

We saw a similar dynamic in Virginia's last Senate contest. Our incumbent senator made a racial remark - calling a worker for the challenger "Macaca," which is the Portuguese equivalent of the n-bomb in front of an all white audience. In days past, it was possible for politicians to make racist asides to an audience without concern about it becoming public. But modern technology makes that kind of thing dicey. Source survivability in the era of cellphone cameras is a scary thing to politicians.

Source survivability has raised its head in this year's gubernatorial contest. Bob McDonnell has a master's degree from Regents University. Master's theses are publicly available. A reporter traveled to Regents and got a copy of McDonnell's thesis, which he wrote in 1989.

Ideas that may have had widespread support in 1989 can be problematic just one generation later. (Recall that we looked at how the generation that came of age after the end of the last Indian Wars gave us Helen Hunt Jackson - 20 years later). McDonnell says that he no longer holds the views espoused in his thesis, but some suspect that the thesis reveals his true ideology. This is the kind of problem that historians have to struggle with. We have a source that may shed light on the current situation, but how does one judge McDonnell's sincerity when he says he has changed? In the article, McDonnell uses several compelling pieces of evidence to demonstrate that he no longer opposes women working outside the home - his wife and daughters do so and he has hired several women for his staff.

Please read the article below and then analyze the issue in the comments. I'd suggest working on you answer in a word processing file and then cutting and pasting into the comments.

1) Should a thesis McDonnell wrote twenty years ago influence voters today? Why or why not?

2) Would you want to be judged for what you are writing now twenty years in the future? Does age matter? For example, you might be willing to dismiss what someone wrote when they were 15. Would you be as willing to dismiss it if they were 20? 35? 50? (McDonnell was 34).

3) If McDonnell no longer believes what he wrote in the thesis, should his previous beliefs influence how people vote?

4) What factors would you, as a historian, consider when assessing whether McDonnell still believes what he wrote in 1989?

5) After considering those factors and the evidence offered by McDonnell, do you think he still believes what he wrote way back when? There is no right or wrong answer here. I want you to assess the evidence.

You can find the actual thesis here if you want to look at the primary source.

Article reprinted below for educational purposes.

'89 Thesis A Different Side of McDonnell
Va. GOP Candidate Wrote on Women, Marriage and Gays

By Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 30, 2009

At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.

The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.

In his run for governor, McDonnell, 55, makes little mention of his conservative beliefs and has said throughout his campaign that he should be judged by what he has done in office, including efforts to lower taxes, stiffen criminal penalties and reform mental health laws. He reiterated that position Saturday in a statement responding to questions about his thesis.

"Virginians will judge me on my 18-year record as a legislator and Attorney General and the specific plans I have laid out for our future -- not on a decades-old academic paper I wrote as a student during the Reagan era and haven't thought about in years."

McDonnell added: "Like everybody, my views on many issues have changed as I have gotten older." He said that his views on family policy were best represented by his 1995 welfare reform legislation and that he "worked to include child day care in the bill so women would have greater freedom to work." What he wrote in the thesis on women in the workplace, he said, "was simply an academic exercise and clearly does not reflect my views."

McDonnell also said that government should not discriminate based on sexual orientation or ban contraceptives and that "I am not advocating vouchers as there are legal questions regarding their constitutionality in Virginia."

The Washington Post learned of the thesis in a recent interview with McDonnell, who mentioned it in answering a question about his political roots. McDonnell brought up the paper in reference to a pair of Republican congressmen whom he interviewed as part of his research. McDonnell then offered: "I wrote my thesis on welfare policy."

McDonnell's opponent, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), and other Democrats have sought to highlight McDonnell's conservative record, saying he is obscuring a large part of his background to get elected. Deeds recently spoke to women's groups about McDonnell's record on abortion, saying that voters needed to know about his stances.

"There is a just a massive effort underway to rebrand Bob McDonnell, and his whole legislative career speaks otherwise," said former delegate Barnie K. Day (D-Patrick), who supports Deeds. "The voters have a right to know who these candidates really are."

When asked about Regent, McDonnell generally responds that it is one of many schools he has attended. He received a bachelor's in business administration at the University of Notre Dame in 1976, and he received a master's in business administration from Boston University in 1980 while serving overseas in the Army.

After four years in the Army and the start of a management career with a Fortune 500 health supply company, McDonnell moved with his wife, Maureen, and two young daughters from a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., to Virginia Beach, where he enrolled in a public policy master's program at what was then called CBN University. The school was founded by Pat Robertson and named for his Christian Broadcasting Network.

McDonnell said that he was seeking a faith-based institution that explored the Christian origins of Western law and that he and his wife wanted to return to Virginia, where they grew up. The school expected students to take their faith seriously; they were admitted only after signing a statement affirming that Jesus Christ was their savior. The school also produced a number of politically active conservatives. Its Web site used to say that 150 of its graduates worked in President George W. Bush's administration. Regent's motto: Christian leadership to change the world.

The combination of faith and public service was on McDonnell's mind, too. His 1989 thesis -- "The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade" -- was on the subject he wanted to explore at Regent: the link between Christianity and U.S. law. The document was written to fulfill the requirements of the two degrees he was seeking at Regent, a master of arts in public policy and a juris doctor in law.

The thesis wasn't so much a case against government as a blueprint to change what he saw as a liberal model into one that actively promoted conservative, faith-based principles through tax policy, the public schools, welfare reform and other avenues.

"Leaders must correct the conventional folklore about the separation of church and state," he wrote. "Historically, the religious liberty guarantees of the First Amendment were intended to prevent government encroachment upon the free church, not eliminate the impact of religion on society."

He argued for covenant marriage, a legally distinct type of marriage intended to make it more difficult to obtain a divorce. He advocated character education programs in public schools to teach "traditional Judeo-Christian values" and other principles that he thought many youths were not learning in their homes. He called for less government encroachment on parental authority, for example, redefining child abuse to "exclude parental spanking." He lamented the "purging of religious influence" from public schools. And he criticized federal tax credits for child care expenditures because they encouraged women to enter the workforce.

"Further expenditures would be used to subsidize a dynamic new trend of working women and feminists that is ultimately detrimental to the family by entrenching status-quo of nonparental primary nurture of children," he wrote.

He went on to say feminism is among the "real enemies of the traditional family."

McDonnell said in his statement that he is "fully supportive of the tremendous contributions women make in the workplace. My wife and daughters work. My campaign manager in 2005 was a working mother. I appointed 5 women to my senior staff as Attorney General."

Maureen McDonnell held a variety of positions with the federal government before the couple started a family, according to the campaign, and she has since run a series of small businesses out of the home. McDonnell's daughter Jeanine served in the Army in Iraq and is now a civilian contract employee; his daughter Cailin is coordinating youth outreach for the Republican Party of Virginia's election efforts this year. Neither daughter is married or has children.

McDonnell's thesis also spends a good deal of time on the importance of tax policy to the health of families. He called for the repeal of the estate tax and for the adoption of a modified flat tax to replace the graduated income tax. Awarding deductions and distributions based on need "is socialist," McDonnell wrote.

His advocacy of abortion restrictions is well known; he sponsored or co-sponsored numerous pieces of legislation on the topic, including a ban on late-term abortions, a requirement that minors receive parental consent before having an abortion and a mandated 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion. He and like-minded colleagues succeeded in repealing Virginia's estate tax and reforming welfare law, as well as restricting access to abortion.

He also sponsored bills on four occasions to establish covenant marriage in Virginia. All four were unsuccessful. Under McDonnell's proposals, couples choosing to enter covenant marriage would have been required to obtain premarital counseling and sign a declaration of intent acknowledging that marriage is a lifelong commitment. In addition, the time of separation necessary for couples with children to obtain a no-fault divorce would have been extended from one to two years.

One controversy that drew wide attention was an effort in the General Assembly in 2003 to end the judicial career of Verbena M. Askew, a Circuit Court judge from Newport News who had been accused of sexual harassment by a woman who worked for her. As chairman of the Courts of Justice Committee, McDonnell led the effort in the House. He said he was opposed to Askew's reappointment because she didn't disclose, as required, that she was a party to a legal proceeding.

McDonnell was widely quoted at the time as saying that homosexual activity raised questions about a person's qualifications to be a judge. Spokesman Tucker Martin said McDonnell was misquoted and does not consider homosexuality a disqualifying factor for judgeships or other jobs.

Askew, who was not reappointed, denied any wrongdoing and was never found by a court to have harassed the employee.

Republican friends who support McDonnell's campaign for governor acknowledge parting ways with some of his more conservative views. Former governor and U.S. senator George Allen said he doesn't share McDonnell's opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest. "There should always be an exception," he said. And state Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle (Virginia Beach), a close friend first elected to the legislature the same year as McDonnell, described covenant marriage as "the state overstepping its bounds."

Allen, Stolle and other Republicans say that such positions represent a small piece of McDonnell's record.

McDonnell is quick to point out his promotion of criminal justice legislation, an interest that stemmed from his two years as an assistant prosecutor in Virginia Beach after his graduation from Regent. He points to a record of bipartisan cooperation as attorney general that included toughening Virginia's laws on sex offenders, cracking down on identity theft and promoting stricter laws against animal fighting. He says that he worked closely with Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, particularly in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, and that he was praised by Democrats on the day he left office for his handling of the Virginia Tech crisis and other accomplishments.

Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), who has shared most of McDonnell's conservative positions over the years, said there is no question that the candidate is playing down his conservatism today. Marshall said McDonnell risks alienating two groups of voters: moderates who might view him as hiding his true beliefs and conservatives who might think that he is no longer conservative enough.

"If you duck something, that tells your opponents that you think your position is a liability," said Marshall, who is backing McDonnell. "Why else wouldn't you acknowledge it? But I'll tell you, I've got precinct captains who are annoyed that he's not answering these questions. He doesn't have to bash people in the head with it. But he doesn't have to put it in the closet, either. There's a balance you can take."

Staff writers Rosalind S. Helderman and Anita Kumar contributed to this report.


  1. YES! I was so going to show you this tomorrow. Wow. Anyway...

    1) I think that the thesis is fair game, but should only be considere when looking at the candidate as a whole. What I would look at is his legislative record. And that Washington Post article says that McDonnell tried to enact 10 of the 15 points he made in that thesis. That says it all to me.

    2) While I have no intention of beoming the next W and feel comfortable with anything I've written, I still wouldn't want to be judged on something I wrote twenty years in the past. Political views shift. What is telling about McDonnell is that he tried to pass legislation, years after the thesis was published, that would achieve the goals he set forth in that thesis. And Age does matter. 34 is A LOT different than 14. A 34 year old is almost old enough to run for Presient. A 14 year old is barely in high school. There is a HUGE maturity gap. 20 is also a lot different than 34.

    3) I really think he does believe what he wrote in that thesis. But for the sake of argument, he doesn't, then no that shouldn't influence votes. You vote for the person who will best represent whatever policies you want enacted. You can tell what they will do by how they've governed before. What poliies they've pushed forth. If McDonnell can do that though, something he said 20 years ago shouldn't be influential.

    4) I feel like I'm being redundant. I would take a look at how he governed. I would see what policies he pushed for and which he fought against. I'd take a look at more recent speeches (NOT campaign speeches), off the cuff remarks and then factor everything in. The thesis is reliable. It's valid. I would factor in how he treats his wife and daughter and that works as a plus for him. But to me, that mostly says he married an independent woman who wasn't about to step down for him.

    5) Yes, he still believes what he wrote. Maybe he's tamed down a bit, but he's the same bigot he was then. Homosexuals unqualified to be a judge? Really? REALLY? He's tried, and thankfully failed, to legislate his "ideas". I'm supposed to believe that when he decided to run for office he suddenly rejects those ideas? Please. All the evidence says he believes it. ALL.

    I have a STRONG feeling McDonnell's gonna win. We've had two back to back Democratic governors and Tim Kaine is not a Mark Warner. Creigh's a great guy, I've met him and talked to him, very down to Earth. Not that anyone should vote based on the "beer test" but I digress...

  2. 1) Yes and no. Even if McDonnell’s views have changed, we have to at least keep in mind that his thesis represents his background and where he’s coming from.

    2) I would not want to be judged in the future for what I’m writing now; I’m still a teenager. I may realize later on in life that the opinions I have now are not valid; I’ll have had more experience and more time to consider what I believe and why. As a person gets older, I find it harder to believe that their views have changed (not to say that it can not or does not happen.) The longer you hold a belief, the more difficult it is going to be for you to adjust it down the road (a great example of inertia.) Changing your beliefs is hard.

    3) No, not necessarily. I must note that he wrote this thesis before he was elected. I think it’s perfectly valid for him to argue that over the course of his time working in the government, he has reconsidered many of his ideas (if, of course, he’s telling the truth.) That said, his conservative background should be something people keep in mind.

    4) -How his beliefs now differ from his beliefs then (and why they have changed)
    -Evidence he has to show that his ideas have changed (is it convincing?)
    -What his peers say about him and his ideas

    5) Again, yes and no. He’s coming from a conservative background, so his decisions are going to be affected by that. But I think real-world experience has helped him to see the impracticality of some of his ideas, and he has given evidence as to how he’s changed his mind (example: original beliefs about women in the workforce vs. his wife and daughters holding jobs.) Is he a totally different person? No. Is it possible that some of his more radical ideas have changed? Definitely.

  3. 1) Usually, I would believe that something that out of date, such as McDonnel’s thesis, could be looked over. However, his legislative actions throughout his career seem to suggest his attitudes about the subjects of his thesis haven’t changed drastically (as many voters would hope they have). Therefore, I believe voters have the right to be influenced by this document. The fact of the matter is; however, that no matter whether or not this document should influence voters, it will. This document will have an impact on some voters.
    2) I would not want to be judged for what I write now twenty years in the future. Age, in this case, makes a huge difference. The differences between the writings of a teenager and a thirty-year-old adult are enormous for two reasons. First, the teenager is much less mature than the adult. Secondly, people tend to become more conservative and less likely to change with age. Because of this tendency, I am more likely to believe that the writings of a thirty-year-old still are beliefs of that person twenty years later than those of a teenager.
    3) If McDonnell truly does not agree with his thesis, then his previous beliefs should not influence how people vote today. The problem with this is that it is hard to tell for sure whether or not McDonnell agrees with his previous views.
    4) When assessing McDonnell’s reliability, I would consider his decisions in the legislature, his thesis and his recent comments regarding it, and other recent comments or speeches he has made.
    5) I think he still believes what he wrote in 1989. He states that his thesis was “simply an academic exercise” and “does not reflect [his] views.” No. It wasn’t an “academic exercise”. Why would one not state his true beliefs in a college thesis? And I’m not saying this because McDonnell is a Republican. If a Democrat was in the exact same situation, I would feel the same way.

  4. 1) I don’t think that McDonnell’s thesis from 20 years ago should influence voters, but I think it undoubtedly will influence them. It is really hard to overlook one’s past, even if that person has changed. For all we know, McDonnell could have been presented with new evidence contradictory to his somewhat extreme thesis he wrote, and he could have changed some of his opinions. Beliefs change, and 20 years is plenty of time to change but I don’t think that the majority of voters will realize that.
    2) As a teenager, I definitely do not want to be judged for what I write today. Having said that though, McDonnell’s thesis was written when he was 34. Adults of that age almost always have established their beliefs whereas as teenagers, many of us are still trying to establish our own. The fact that McDonnell wrote that thesis as a 34 year old grown man is bit more concerning than if it had been a teenager. That is not to say, however, that McDonnell couldn’t have changed his mind since then.
    3) If McDonnell truly does not believe what he said in that thesis, than he should be forgiven. The problem, though, is that there is no effective way of convincing 100% of the voting crowd that he didn’t mean it.
    4) I would look at his track record and see what he has been supporting since the thesis was written. It looks as if he has been supporting almost exactly what he said in his thesis, just not as extreme. Nevertheless, it is still very concerning to see the connection between what he supports and his thesis.
    5) I think that McDonnell still believes what he wrote, but not to the extent that he did in college. There is no reason to lie about your beliefs in a college thesis, so that tells me that he has to still believe some of it. Men don’t like to be proven wrong and change their minds, but that is not to say that it isn’t possible.

  5. 1.The thesis that McDonnell wrote should play a small role on voter’s minds, but not overpower their opinion. There is evidence that he thought feminism was bad, but there is also evidence to the contrary. People can always change their minds. It’s in human nature to do so. Voters should vote based on action in office, not so much on the thesis, but they should keep in mind that he “used” to think differently.
    2.If McDonnell were a little bit older, such as in his 40’s or 50’s, I would probably think differently. Thoughts in the younger aged people change all the time with new information. By the time one is middle aged or older (McDonnell was pushing it) opinions are somewhat permanent. I wouldn’t want to be judged in 20 years for what I think now, no.
    3.His previous beliefs should influence people, but only slightly. Voters should know that the candidate used to think otherwise and factor it into their votes. His previous beliefs should only influence because it is apparently subject to change and may change again, not because his new/old belief is right/wrong.
    4.I would assess his actions. He apparently strongly believes in the classic, ideal family and has tried to make others believe or at least follow that idea. He wants God to play an important role in the world and has tried to change laws that prohibit that. He has not tried to prohibit women from working, as far as I can tell from the article. Actions speak louder than words.
    5.I think that McDonnell, if he hasn’t changed his mind, has done a good job of not acting on his anti-(enter minority here) beliefs. I think he at least has done a good job of putting aside his beliefs if not actually changed them.

  6. 1. I personally believe that the thesis that McDonnell wrote during his time at Regent should be considered when deciding on who to vote for, but it should not be the main factor in choosing. The beliefs that a person had 20 years ago should not matter so much when judge them for the future. Although we should judge the past to interpret the future, the beliefs and ideals of a person can change in such a long time.
    2. I would defiantly not want to be judged 20 years in the future by what I believe now. I believe that I person’s beliefs are always changing and evolving, so it can almost be certain that I will think differently in the future. Age should also not matter in this debate. A person’s ideas can change no matter how old they are.
    3. If McDonnell really has changed his mind, his previous beliefs should not be taken into account. If he no longer believes the same things, those old beliefs should not affect his decisions in the future.
    4. I think the most important factor in determining whether or not McDonnell has changed his mind, is what kind of things he has done in the mean time that contradict his old beliefs. The more beliefs that he has turned away from, less of the original beliefs remain.
    5. After reading the article, I believe that McDonnell has changed his mind. I think that he has done enough things to contradict his previous beliefs since he wrote his thesis, so it would be obvious that he changed his mind.

  7. 1) Yes, but only to a certain extent. Because he wrote a master's thesis on this topic, I think that he must have strongly believed what he wrote. Even if he did write the thesis 20 years ago, it was still a full master's thesis on his beliefs and should be taken into account when considering to vote for him or not.

    2) I would not want to be judged on what I write now 20 years in the future. However, I am only 16, so my opinions and beliefs are changing constantly. If I were to write a master's thesis on something, I think that it would be fair for people to judge me based on that thesis 20 years after it had been completed because to write a master's thesis you must take tons of time to analyze a subject and write strong beliefs about that subject.

    3) If McDonnell has truly changed his beliefs, I still think that what he believed previously should influence how people vote. However, I don't think that they should be the main reason that a person is voting against him. I believe that it should be one of many reasons to vote for or against him.

    4) The main factor I would consider would be what McDonnell has done in office in comparison to what he wrote in the thesis. Recently, his actions have contradicted what he said in the thesis, but years ago he was actively trying to put his 15 point plan into action.

    5) Personally, I believe that McDonnell still believes what he did when he wrote his thesis. He said that "Virginians will judge me on my 18-year record as a legislator and Attorney General and the specific plans I have laid out for our future -- not on a decades-old academic paper I wrote as a student during the Reagan era and haven't thought about in years." However, earlier in the same article, it is reported that "During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family." So, McDonnell, I will do as you say and judge you on your 18-year record. That includes the 14 years you spent pursuing 10 of the policy goals in your thesis. The article stated that McDonnell has daughters who are working outside the home and have been in the past. However, it also states that they are unmarried and have no children. McDonnell may support his daughters working outside the home while they have no children, but how will he feel if they do have kids? Will he want them to stay home more and help in the raising of their children?

  8. 1.The thesis from twenty years should influence voters today because it is part of McDonnell's past and will have some effect on how he acts in the present and future, even if he does not realize. Any belief that a person holds for a period of time will change the person a little bit, especially if it is reinforced, such as McDonnell's was at CBN, and those changes will affect future beliefs and actions, even if it is complete rejection of the previous beliefs.

    2.For the most part, I would want other people's opinion of me to be influenced by what I write. If there was ever a case when the statements were being misinterpreted or other people did not like my beliefs, then they can have that thought and the people who really know who I am will understand. Obviously this is not the best view for a politician, one who attempts to obtain and keep the majority of the public liking them, but I do not intend to go into politics. I would be more careful on published works than my private writings to make it a little less likely that people will find something about me that they do not like. I do not think age should matter, because getting older does not change who you are. For some, the extremes of the teenage years could be omitted, but after becoming a thinking adult, more age should not matter.

    3.As I mentioned, previous beliefs never really go away, and voters may have some reason in those past beliefs to influence their vote, but I do not think it should be the deciding factor, because he will probably act as he has during the campaign period for his term to keep the people who elected him happy.

    4.Some factors would be any writing or statements from after 1989 that went against his earlier beliefs to see if he made the change through cognitive dissonance or just to make people happy for the election. Other factors would be how often he changes his opinion on other issues, and how his current lifestyle reflects on what he believes.

    5.I think that somewhere McDonnell still thinks and knows that his previous beliefs were true and justified, but that is not the belief that goes well with the majority of people, so he does not “officially” believe it anymore. By going for a public position, he is going to change his beliefs to what the people want, and as I said, will probably keep those for the time he is in that position. Afterward, I would not be surprised if he went back on what he said and returned to his previous beliefs.

  9. 1) I don’t think that McDonnell’s thesis paper should influence voters. A lot can change in twenty years. He is going to lose a few votes because of it, but I don’t think it will be very many.
    2) I don’t think that an essay should be judged after twenty years of time written by anyone. Age does have a factor, however. The older someone is, the more time they have had to formulate opinions and the more time they have had to generate ideas.
    3) McDonnell should not be penalized for his previous beliefs, however if there is no proof that he doesn’t believe that anymore, people will think that he still does believe those things.
    4) I would look at how he did in office. I would look at his style and see if he had any related view that ended up in office. I would also look at how related his thesis is to his actual actions while in office.
    5) I don’t believe that he does think that anymore. Those views are very traditional. Things have changed in America. I think that his opinion changed along with much of the rest of the country’s beliefs. I think that he has strayed from his thesis enough to assume that he changed his mind.

  10. 1) I think that McDonnell's thesis paper will influence voters either way. Personally, I think voters should remember the 20 years is a long time and a person can change a lot. But it is still good to know the background of people before you vote for them.

    2) Although, I would not want to be judged for something I wrote 20 years ago, age cannot be ignored. The older someone is, the less likely they are to change their opinions. A 15 year old writing something is more likely to formulate a new opinion than a 34 year old.

    3) If it's proven that McDonnell no longer believes what he wrote 20 years ago, than he shouldn't be penalized. If he no longer believes what he wrote than voters should just focus on his opinions now. This always happens to politicians; some terrible fact is discovered about them and everyone flips out, so why is McDonnell any different?

    4) The major evidence that should be looked at to determine if McDonnell still believes what he wrote is how he preformed in office. Did he do anything that reflects that he still believes what he wrote? Also, I would look at how he reacts to certain circumstances and what he did after he wrote the thesis paper.

    5) Honestly, I think deep down inside he still believes in a little bit of what he wrote. Not many people change their opinions that drastically at that age. Even though he believes what he wrote, he is doing a good job of hiding his feelings.

  11. 1) Voters today should care about what a politician wrote about twenty years ago, but it shouldn't be a large factor in their vote. If that particular politician has shown changes from their earlier statements/actions, the more current statements/actions should override the older if those actions are consistent.

    2)I would not want to be judged by what I am writing today twenty years from now because I am still young. I would be willing to dismiss what someone said when they were in their early 20's because you haven't lived in the real world yet. You are still highly influenced by teachers and parents. Age matters to a certain degree. I would not dismiss what someone said twenty years ago if they have no current contradictions of their previous actions.

    3)No the voters should not be influenced by his previous beliefs if it is clear he no longer believes them. He has changed his thinkings and we should not look at changing sides/their minds as as bad thing. Unfortunately that is not always so clear.

    4)I would look at his career after 1989 and especially his more recent political life. If he consistently votes for/against resolutions that are contradictory to his previous statements and he consistently speaks against his statement, then I would say he did change his mind and no longer believes his older statement.

    5)I do not think he still supports discrimination against women because he has said he changed and he voter for resolutions that would allow women to have greater freedom of entering any workforce. Also his wife and daughters have had freedom to enter the workforce where they wanted. I do not think he has changed his mind on the abortions policies or martial policies of "man and woman for life". I do not think this is a bad thing because it is his opinion and many other shares the same thought. Also those policies are still highly debated. I think he still holds the same views on contraceptive, but will not say so because the times has changed and not many people agree with his thoughts. He "changed" to try and get elected. I do think McDonnell still thinks justice Verbena Askew should have been removed and homosexuality affects ones judging. I think McDonnell has "changed" some of his views to try and get elected, because Virginia recently has voted democrat, and a hard lined republican will have a hard time getting elected.

  12. I think that things from a person's past will inevitably influence people, no matter what it is or who it is. A person's past should matter, and in this context it is important. When he says that it was the "past" that doesn't mean that we should omit or ignore it. For a while (and even now, maybe still) he believed that, and it is worth knowing, though it shouldn't be the main reason people vote a certain way.

    No, I wouldn't. Age is a big factor in this kind of decision making. When I was in middle school, I wrote poetry that was cheesy and cliched and now...well, I'm pretty sure it's more grown up. Either way, people change their minds when they grow older because people are always constantly learning. Learning is not a process that can be stopped; people and places and new ideas are always coming at us 837 miles an hour and we accept and experience cognitive dissonance and adapt to new ideas. Why should hitting 50 make you any more decisive than at 18? Granted, we should have some moral, concrete beliefs that stick with us and shouldn't be changed. But I am always for people learning new ideas.

    Yes. And no. The thing is, people will want to know why he believed in those particular things. If he can recognize that he believed them, explain why he did and what made him think that way, as well as saying why that's a bad thing, then I think he can turn that to his advantage. However, once people know that he doesn't believe those things anymore, and it's obviously known, then he shouldn't be penalized for it.

    I would check things like records of how he voted on certain issues. If they go against/support how he votes today, one might want to look into that (if they were really interested) to see how consistent he is.

    Well, we must first consider the fact that he was born in an era that saw women as stay-at-home moms and homosexuals as people not to be tolerated. I can understand his viewpoint, even though it's wrong (especially considering his strict religious schooling). I an impressed by his changing (adapting) ideas, as well. For example, he isn't against women in the workplace anymore, considering how he's voted and the fact that he has several female family members working. However, I don't think he's entirely changed his mind on such issues as marriage, contraceptions and abortions, just that he's downplaying his conservatives to project more of a liberal image because he hasn't exactly said outright that he's changed his mind.

  13. 1) That depends. Does he still actually believe it or not? If he does, certainly. If he doesn't, we need to know how that came about.

    2) Duh, age matters. It gives us a hint as to intellectual maturity and judgment. McDonnell was 34. He knew what he was doing. What matters it time, not age. He's 55 now, and of course his beliefs might have changed over the course of 20 years, a period in which the political landscape has changed rapidly and radically.

    3) Only in rare instances. If McDonnell called for the extermination of the Jews 20 years ago, yeah, that'd be more than iffy. But he didn't. If we judged people on previous beliefs, there'd be no point in politics, argument, rhetoric, and debate. Everyone would be held up to an impossible standard.

    4) Take each viewpoint offered and the thesis and compare it to McDonnell's record and statements over the past 20 years. How well do they match up?

    5) Partly. He's definitely not pro-feminist, pro-gay, pro-contraception, or pro-choice/pro-abortion (whatever you wanna call it). Then again, he's a religious conservative. He went to REGENT UNIVERSITY, headed by PAT ROBERTSON. But those viewpoints might not have anything to with that thesis. He definitely hasn't carried out that 1989 agenda. The point is, during his tenure, Bob McDonnell has not become the "Bible-thumping preacher" (see today's article on the gubernatorial race in the Outlook section of the Post) one would expect him to be after writing that thesis. Unless McDonnell actually outlines and explains what he believes, we may never truly know what he does or does not believe. But even if he does still belief what he said, maybe he refuses to carry it out. For example, Tim Kaine is against capital punishment, but he still enforces the law. When he told voters that he would still enforce the law despite his own views in an ad, it arguably won him the election. The most fair way to judge McDonnell is by his record and statements of the past 20 years.

    I had a much better/longer response, but it didn't post. : (

  14. 1.Yes because the thesis is his background. And he wrote it, so he believed it once in his life. But no because evidence supports that he had changed.
    2.No i wouldnt want to be judged for writing and thinking something when i was still a teenager. But he was 34. he had already been through college, grad school, and even going in the Army. He has had life experiences that i havent. And those experiences helped him form his opinions.
    3.No they shouldnt if he doesnt fully believe them. They are his past beliefs, and he has apparently changed. But they should be influenced if he still believes his "former" beliefs.
    4.I would assess his beliefs now. and what he has done in the office. And compare it to his thesis. He completed 10 out of the 15 things while in office for 20 years.
    5.After reading the article, i think he has changed some of his beliefs. He definitly believes in some of the beliefs. But he had changed his mind about a lot of the issues.

  15. 1. Should the thesis written 20 years ago influence voters today? I don't think that's the problem, it's more if it will influence voter's today. It will. People don't forget the past. But to answer the question, yes it should influence the voters, people rarely change, especially politicians.

    2. I wouldn't want to be judged by it, but I would want it taken into consideration. I would want to the opportunity to explain what exactly I was thinking when I wrote that, and if I still think it today. Yes age should be taken into consideration. People tend to be more radical aka liberal when younger and more conservative when older ("If you're not a liberal at 20 you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at 40 you have no brain." - Churchill).

    3. No. If outrightly states "I do not now believe what I wrote then." That means it should be forgotten.

    4. I would consider whether he is still a conservative, whether he has acted upon those beliefs in recent years, or if he has mirrored those beliefs in recent statements.

    5. I would still think he holds some of those values, but actions speak louder than words and I think he has foregone some of those ultra-conservative beliefs in order to better his career as well as show people that he has changed, if only but a little. So yes and no, maybe he's loosened his conservative belt a little, but it's still on there pretty tight.

  16. 1) I think that voters today should definitely take into account what Mcdonnell wrote 20 years ago as they decide who to vote for. Some of the things that Mcdonnell states are pretty serious in that they discriminate against women and people with different sexual orientations in the work force, and also a woman's choice to have an abotion. Especially if you fall into one of these groups of people, it might be wise to think twice before voting for McDonnell. Voters should base their opinions on other things too, but I don't think that they should completely ignore the thesis.
    2) I'm sure that when I am older, I won't want people to judge me based on something I wrote 20 years back when I was a teenager because my views will have changed some. It makes a difference though, if something was written when you were 15 years old compared to 35 years old. At 35, most people have established a core set of values and beliefs whereas at 15, many teenagers are still trying to figure what it is that they believe and are more susceptible to change their minds.
    3)I think it's good for voters to be informed about McDonnell's previous beliefs, even if he's changed his mind. These past beliefs though, shouldn't play a big part in how voters view him, if he has truly changed his perspective.
    4)I would interview McDonnell and ask him about his current views on all of the topics that he mentioned in his thesis and exactly how he has changed his views. I would take into account the issues that he has supported/not supported while in office since he wrote the thesis. The correlation between his present actions and his past thesis would factor into my assessing McDonnell's truthfulness about his current stance.
    5)I think that McDonnell still thinks what he wrote in his thesis. Even though he has changed his views on women, I don't think that he's changed his views on abortion or people with different sexual orientations. The fact that he pursued 10 of the 15 points to "protect American families" that he states in his thesis in the 14 years that he served in the General Assembly, shows that he hasn't changed his mind much. I'm skeptical to believe that McDonnell has just thrown away all of his past views, especially since he spent all the effort to write a complete thesis paper on them.

  17. 1)I think that voters today should definitely take into account what McDonnell wrote 20 years ago as they decide who to vote for. Some of the things that McDonnell states in his thesis are pretty serious in that they discriminate against women and homosexuals in the work force, and also a woman’s choice to have an abortion. Especially if you are a woman or have a different sexual orientation, it might be wise to think twice before voting for McDonnell. Voters should base their opinions about McDonnell on other things too, but I don’t think that they should completely ignore the thesis.
    2)To tell the truth, I have never thought about some of the things I’ve written being published or open to the public before. At this point, I wouldn’t care about being judged by what I’ve written because my views haven’t changed much. However; I’m sure that I will change my mind about things in the future and I wouldn’t want people judging me based on something I wrote when I was a teenager. I think it makes a difference if someone writes something when they’re 15 compared to 35. At 35 years old, most people have established their core set of values and beliefs whereas at 15 years old, most teenagers are still trying to figure out what to believe in and are more susceptible to changing their minds.
    3)I think it’s good for voters to be informed about McDonnell’s previous beliefs, even if he’s changed his mind. These past beliefs though, shouldn’t play a big part in how voters view him, if he has truly changed.
    4)I would interview McDonnell and ask him about his current views on all of the topics that he mentioned in his thesis and exactly how he has changed his views. I would take into account the issues that he has supported/not supported in office since he wrote the thesis. The correlation between his present actions and his past thesis would factor into my assessing McDonnell’s truthfulness about his current stance.
    5)I think that McDonnell still thinks what he wrote in his thesis. Even though he has changed his views on women, I don’t think that he’s changed his views on abortion or people with different sexual orientations. The fact that he pursued 10 of the 15 points to “protect American families” that he states in his thesis in the 14 years that he served in the General Assembly, shows that he hasn’t changed his mind much. I’m skeptical to believe that McDonnell has just thrown away all of his past views, especially since he spent all the effort to write a complete thesis paper on them.

  18. 1)I don't believe that a thesis that McDonnell wrote 20 years ago should influence people about what they think about him today. Because Im sure 9 out of 10 people you ask, will say in 20 years they have changed in some sort of way.
    2)If I believe something that I wrote 20 years ago was good and still reflected my views today, I wouldn't mind if people judged me on it. Age does matter, if you write something when your 4 if will probably wont make since when your 34. But since McDonnell was 34 when he wrote it, it's kind of hard to not look at age for what he said, but he still has had time to change.
    3)If there is evidence to show that he has changed since he wrote that paper, then what he wrote then shouldn't influence if people will vote for him now.
    4)In assessing wether or not McDonnell still believes what he wrote i would look at his family status then and now, what his voted on in the Senate, and if he follows through with what he believes outside of the job.
    5)I am not really sure if he still believes what he wrote back in the day. I think things like him voting against the bill to stop wage discrimination shows that he still believes what he wrote but other things like him hiring women and having his daughter and wife work, leans toward the opposite. So I believe that he has changed some, but not all the way.

  19. Good stuff so far, but some folks still haven't completed the assignment.

    If your post doesn't show up right away, it is because you didn't post within the three day window - late entries have to be approved by me before they appear. You don't have to keep hitting "post."

    I like how many of you are willing to believe that people can change their minds! Of course, since willingness to resolve cognitive dissonance is a (too) rare trait, it makes sense to be skeptical. Those of you who looked at outside evidence to corroborate (legislative agenda, daughters' jobs) acted like historians.

    And I dug Luke's Churchill quote.

  20. 1) I think that what he wrote 20 years ago should influence voters to an extent. McDonnell could have changed his mind about some of the tings he wrote in that thesis paper he wrote, but I think his underlying ideals are still there.
    2) I would not want to me judged for what I wrote when I was in kindergarten, but when I was 5, I didn’t know what I was talking about. If you are in your early 30’s, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t change your mind on that much about a thesis paper you wrote.
    3) No. But he should have said, “Hey, that was twenty years ago. I don’t believe that now. This is what I do believe...”
    4) I would take into consideration what he believed in then and what he says he believes in now. If they are the same ideals worded differently, then he is obviously not a good candidate. However, if his views changed drastically, then he seems like a safe bet.
    5) I do think that he believes the same things he wrote in his paper. Because he tried to get some of his points made in his paper laws proves he did not change his mind about much at all.

  21. 1. I think it should influence voters very little. Everyone has the right to change their mind about something and it shows something for being personally honest which I think is a good trait. On the other hand something like that will always come back to haunt you. To us a hypothetical example, if one day in class I were to walk up to Mr. Tueting and punch him in the gut (something I would NEVER EVER do) and then the next day get on my knees and beg him for forgiveness, I would have changed my stance, but what I had done the previous day would still influence how people in the class though of me. As time would progress through the year, the event would eventually fade into the fog o’ history, but someone would remember and it would always still haunt me.
    2. It would depend on what happens in the future, if I held fast to my beliefs I wouldn’t mind being judged for what I wrote. If I were to change what I though, I would believe it fair to be judged on the present, not on the past. Age is certainly an important factor. If someone wrote something like McDonnell’s thesis at the age of 16, I’d be more willing to dismiss it because he may be thinking more foolishly or less maturely at a younger. But at the age of 34 it is much less easy to dismiss because he is older, and at that age your mind has generally set its track of though.
    3. If McDonnell has changed his beliefs, I say more power to him. I think that judgment about something like this should be based on the present, while still paying attention to the past. Voters should consider what he wrote but not base their decisions entirely on it.
    4. I would assess his age, the current evidence (such as bills supported), and the year when he wrote his thesis.
    5. I think it is pretty convenient that he just came out and said that he changed his mind about the thesis. If I were to base an opinion about McDonnell, based on my experiences and biases with the G.O.P, I’d say he was lying from his gut. However based on the facts, it’s quite debatable. I’d say based on McDonnell and fact alone, I’d say he changed, although the flip side of the argument with the facts is that he did all those things to cover his tracks in the future in case the thesis was ever used against him in an election. I don’t believe he is lying about changing, but if I were 18 I still wouldn’t vote for him.

  22. 1) I think that the statements he made 20 years ago should influence the voters today. That might have been what he believed at the time, but have had cognitive dissonance and changed his mind.
    2) I think it is a lot easier to dismiss something someone wrote when they were a teenager than when they had already been in college. Most teenagers aren’t well informed, so they might come up with opinions that, once presented with more information, they disagree with.
    3) I think that it is the peoples’ right to know what a candidate used to think, but if that candidate proves that he no longer believes what he used to, voters should disregard it.
    4) I would look at whether he makes his wife and daughters stay at home and not work, and if he approves of the women that work with him.
    5) I don’t think that he still believes what he used to, but there is really no way to ever be sure. It just comes down to whether you trust his word when he says that he doesn’t think the way he used to.

  23. 1.) you can't judge someone on what they wrote twenty years ago. this class we are in now is learning about the process of gathering better ideas. as we get older we change. heck tomorrow we could change our opinion entirely if presented with convincing evidence. so no, the thesis should not affect mcdonald's people.
    2.)since he wrote it at 34 it is kind of hard to cover up for it. if i wrote something at 2 years. and at 22 was different about.. that would make sense. but 34? i mean he has time to change. but still....
    3.)it is good that people are informed about his old views. as long as he has showed in some sort of writing or public appearance saying he changed them. he is okay by me.
    4.)look at his job as senate. what he voted for. who he is as a person NOW. his views NOW. judge him on who he is today. not yesterday.
    5.) I believe Mcdonell still believes somewhat he wrote in this document. although his women view might have changed slightly. he would not change his mind so easily if he spent all this time writing a paper on it.

  24. 1) No, I don't think that the thesis that McDonnell wrote 20 years ago should influence voters THAT much. A lot of things can change in a 20 year span. He could've totally changed all his opinions in that time period. Different evidence for different topics could've persuaded him to a different opinion then what he had many years ago. But, if he had wrote this back when he was in his early twenties, that's one thing, but when he was 34 he pretty much had a firm belief on his beliefs at that age. Therefore, I think that information should partially have an effect on McDonnell.

    2) I would not want to be judged for the writing that I am doing right now, in 20 years. In 20 years my ideas and thoughts will most likely have changed dramatically. Age does matter to me, because if 20 years ago you were only 11 and you wrote something, I wouldn't want to be judged by it, but if I was in my 30's then I think it should be taken partially into account. Therefore I would be more likely to dismiss it if they were older back when they wrote it, instead of being a high-school student like myself.

    3) If Mr. McDonnell honestly does not believe in what he wrote 20 years ago then I don't think he should be held responsible for his thesis. I don't think his paper from years ago should effect voters today, their opinions should be based on his thoughts and views now, not from 20 years ago, it just doesn't make sense to base your vote for what he thought 20 years ago.

    4) If I was a historian, I would compare his beliefs back 20 years ago to some of his newer written documents or speech's and see if he has changed or was just saying he has to get more people on his side. You can also look at some of the actions that he did in the past years, to see if he has changed his opinions from when he was 34 years old.

    5) I think that for the most part he has changed his opinions or at least, slightly varied his beliefs. He might not feel as strongly on every aspect as he did when he was 34 but he still feels strong on most of his 20 year old thesis beliefs I think

  25. 1)I do not believe that a paper written twenty years ago should deeply influence they way people vote. Sure it did say some things that the majority of people would not agree with, but twenty years is a long time. People change there minds about things every day, and all the sudden if McDonnell says he has changed people say its not true. For those who pull out his voting record statistics, did you happen to look at the welfare bill he sponsored in the 90's that was strongly for women going out and getting in the work force? of course a few of his beliefs today may be similar to his old ones, but it takes a lot for someone abandon ALL their beliefs? If he says he does not have the same beliefs as twenty years ago...Why would you automatically assume he is lying?
    2) There is no telling what I would regret writing in the future but I’m sure I would regret some things. In this case McDonnell has made it clear that he does not believe the same things he did twenty years ago, and I find that very believable. When you think about it twenty years is over one third of his life and if you don't think someone can change in that period of time then you are wrong, everyone who has been pushing this out into the light is just looking for something they can use against McDonnell.
    3) I do not believe so. He has shown Virginians that he has changed and has come out publicly and stated that he was wrong then and has changed many of his views.
    4) I would look at all the bills and policies he was for, and against. i would also bring into account that he has come out against his former views. Finally i would look at his family life which shows no sign that he was against women’s rights.
    5) There is no way that he believes most of the things he wrote in that paper. Some of his beliefs may have stayed the same but, the ones that have been made so controversial by newspapers and his opponent Creigh Deeds; I think he has proven them wrong with words and action.

  26. 1) I am not sure that something he wrote 20 years ago should influence him now. He did admit to saying that his views have changed on the things he stated. I think a person’s past should be looked at especially when they are in/desire a place of position in our government. It is just like buying a car, you would not get a car without seeing its history. Our thoughts represent us, even if our ideals do change they are only a variation of the original ideas we had started with.
    2) I would not want something I wrote now to be judged later in my life. I am an opinionated person and sometimes I say things that people don’t always agree with but my ideas do change on occasion. I would not want to be judged on ideas I had while I was younger and not fully educated.
    3) His thoughts were a little to extreme to just brush off or come to terms with him saying he is completely over it. I mean we are only human and do make mistakes but you can’t just say things that are sexist and racist and hope that they have no repercussions later. Life doesn’t work that ay, why should he get an exception?
    4) The factors I would use is our surroundings. I would take a look at political views from 89 and then compare them to views from the present. Ideas have come a long way sense then, people and Politian’s are more open minded to the things that we have going on in our country. There is more public encourage in diversity than discrimination.
    5) Personally I believe he is embarrassed, he is telling the public what he thinks they want to hear. I think his views are the same, he is an older man with older views. He doesn’t want to be penalized by the dumb things that he said while he was younger so he is doing what he can to take them back. People want the truth, not sugar coated lies.

  27. 1. I don't think a thesis he wrote 20 years ago should sway voters too much. Alot can change in 20 years, including opinions. I think a smart voter would take what McDonnell's thesis said and his recent statements and decide which one fits the kind of person they want to get the position.

    2. I don't want people to judge me in the future for what I'm writing now. At any point in life you can change your mind on where you stand on an issue. (Mr. Tueting proves this so well.) At the same time, Mcdonnell was 34 when he wrote this. That is old enough to have a solid stance on what you believe and think. He was very strong with his points in the thesis. Very.

    3. It's important for voters to know where a canidate has come from. Knowing their old ideas and policies can give a refrence to what they believe now. The present is most important, but an inconsistant person is a turnoff.

    4. Like I said I would compare his stance on issues now to what he wrote, and make the best judgement about him. Politicians can say they believe in something until they are blue in the face-I would look for a person who acts on their ideas to make a difference or change. That is a good indicator if they still belive in the same thing from the past.

    5. I think he still holds on to some of the beliefs he wrote about in his thesis. At the same time he has lightened up on a few of them, while staying true to the fudamental ones.

  28. 1) In no way shape or form should McDonell be judged for something he wrote twenty years ago. It's true that he was thirty-four but people change in 20 years it's just how society works. I mean half the teachers in our high school got high.

    2) I would hate being responsible for something I said twenty years ago. We're not just talking about a single person but on a large scale the U.S people(a ,ajority) supported the Iraq war and now there all ashamed to even talk about it. Obama was viewed as a savior when he was elected he hasn't even been president for a year and his ratings have tooken a huge downturn. My point is people change their opinions and I think we should give McDonell the benefit of the doubt.

    3) I think voters should ignore McDonells old thesis and focus on his new policies and ideas.

    4) McDonell most likely has probably changed his views even if he didn't want to because if want's to stay in politics he can't have ideas like that in this day and age.

    5) Whether he has changed or not really doesn't matter twenty years ago. If he is elected it will obviously be based on his policies and let's not forget it's not like just because he gets votes he wins he does have an opponent.

  29. okay sooo i really did submit this from my work comp yesterday, but i couldnt log in so i sent it in by typing in my name. but it didnt show up so i guess you didnt get it? oh well. here it is again.

    1) When it only comes to his paper, no it shouldn’t influence the voters. It was twenty years ago, so his views may have changed. But when you look at how he was in office and compare it to his paper, then it could influence it. He says his views have changed, yet he voted against making men and women’s pay equal. Also he points out that he “worked to include child day care in the bill so women would have greater freedom to work”. To me, that’s still saying women should just stay home and take care of the kids. If this is what his true thinking was behind the bill then no, he hasn’t changed and the paper should influence the voters.

    2) I wouldn’t want to be judged for what I wrote twenty years ago, but I know I would be. Age would matter a lot. I don’t think 20 years from right now I should be judged for what I wrote when I was 15. If I was 20 when I wrote it, maybe I shouldn’t be judged. But past 25 most people aren’t going to change their views and probably should be judged for what they write twenty years later.

    3) If McDonnell truly no longer believes everything he did about women and gay people then it shouldn’t influence voters today. Everyone has believed something wrong, especially in his age group from when he grew up, women’s rights were new and homosexuality was not nearly as acceptable as it is today (not that it’s accepted much now anyway). It is understandable why he thought the way he did, as many other thought the same way and some now think differently.

    4) You would need to look at all the little things he has done while in office, including how he voted, the bills he supported and worked on, and his speeches. It would also help to look at what his daughter’s jobs have been, as well as his wife. It might also help to ask some of the women he has hired to work for him how he treated them.

    5) Personally, I think deep down he still feels the same. He may try to act like he believes in women’s rights, but saying you tried to give women more jobs by giving them opportunities in child care is still=2 0playing into the old fashion views society had of women. He has, by his actions and votes, recently shown he doesn’t approve of things that encourage women to work outside of the home. As for the homosexuality issue the article doesn’t talk about it enough for me to think he has or hasn’t changed his views. But if he doesn’t like women working I highly doubt he’s changed his mind about same sex relationships.

  30. 1. As much as I would like to find a way to use this against McDonnell, it should not influence voters to a serious degree. Voters should keep it in mind before they blindly believe everything. His opinions have most likely changed. However, no one but McDonnell himself can be sure of this. I have never heard of this kind of behavior from him before. He usually has just aligned himself with traditional conservative beliefs: anti-abortion, hard marriage laws, the like.

    2. I would like for people to see what I wrote to get a good picture of what I was like. But not to judge me to the extreme they are of McDonnell. For the age, it does bother me a little that he was a fully established adult. But I believe age has a huge influence on political beliefs. He is much older now and can see the error of his ways. But the Post does a good job of answering these points by bringing up recent evidence.

    3. No, when I was little I could have
    believed the moon was made of cheese but that doesn’t mean that should be used against me if I ran for SCA office. His thesis is twenty years old; the political landscape has changed dramatically since then. His actions since then speak much louder than a paper.

    4. His policy proposals since that time, if they have been geared toward the agenda stated in his thesis. I would look at the candidates he has supported. The facts that he points out about his wife and daughters does really help him. Having children can change lives. Nearly all of these issues are addressed in the article.

    5. I believe his views on woman’s rights to work have changed. Having daughters changed that. But his view that religion should still be part of the government and marriage as a very strict institute have not changed. He will not pursue these however. He will go after more moderate positions of his extreme views. How he has run his campaign points to this.

  31. 1. Really this thesis should not effect how people look at McDonnell as a viable canidate for any govermental position at all. The thesis is 20 years old, and everyone's beliefs, yours, mine, and ours change. Why should we judge someone who has had 20 years to mature and change?

    2. Honestly I believe the statements I make now should be allowed to be released, only on the point of me being able to explain what I said in those statements. I believe the things I say belong to me and should not be wrongfully used or heavily overexagerated.

    3. No, my beliefs have been changed many times as I grow older, and when they do change I stand by that change just as I had when I believed the other statement. It is like Mr. Tueting's story of how syphilis couldn't possibly been in the old world then he was proven wrong, things change and we accept them.

    4. The factors that have changed since his thesis have all been clearly stated in the article, especially the factors of how he allows his wife and daughters to work without any remorse.

    5. Yes his belief on womans's rights have changed clearly, but issues such as religion and government and homosexuality we really cannot tell if there has been any change in his view.

  32. 1. I think that the thesis itself from McDonnell should not influence voters today. We are not voting for/against 34 year old McDonnell and his beliefs. We are voting for/against who McDonnell is today. However, if McDonnell changed his stance on an issue, it should influence voters, because it could show that he is willing to go against his personal beliefs in order to better represent his people, or that he is willing to change his personal beliefs based on new evidence, like what may have been shown to him by later feminists. Traits like this should be a positive influence on voters.

    2. I would not want to be judged by what I am writing now twenty years in the future. Age most certainly does matter. The older you are, the more experiences you have accumulated, and the more experiences you accumulate, the better the odds of you changing your mind about something are. Whether or not I am willing to dismiss someone’s’ writing depends on whether or not they seem to have changed their mind.

    3. Like I said in #1, the beliefs of 34 McDonnell are not what should be in question right now. However, if McDonnell has changed his mind in the past for an above reason, than we should respect his willingness to admit when he was wrong. I believe that is an important trait for a politician.

    4. I would asses McDonnell’s more recent actions that shed light into his personal beliefs, such as hiring women onto his staff and allowing his wife and daughters to work.

    5. I don’t believe McDonnell still believes what he did “way back when”. And if he does, I don’t care, because actions are the only things that matter. If McDonnell really does still believe what he did “way back when,” then those beliefs clearly do not influence his actions enough to prevent him from accepting women into the workplace.

  33. 1) I think the voters should be allowed to be influenced by the thesis because at one point or another he thought about these things. Now the big question is: can you believe he has changed his mind? It is impossible to know this, however I believe people can change but, if I was a person who knew nothing about McDonnell and read this thesis I would definitely think twice before even considering him as a candidate. I believe what McDonnell can learn from this is that anything you have done in the past whether it is good or bad can come back and bite you in the butt.

    2) I would not want to be judged for what I’m writing now 20 years in the future and that is because I’m a teenager. I do believe that age matters, I would not be willing to dismiss something a 34 year old wrote because I think at the age of 34 a person is well aware of what they are going to do in life and have already made up of their mind on how they want to live it.

    3) Yes, his previous beliefs should influence how people vote and I only say this because I’m sure that when somebody votes they want to be well aware of how their candidate thinks or “thought”. I personally would want to know any background history of the candidate I’m voting for, even though I’m not old enough to vote. I think people should know about the thesis, and then decide whether they forgive him or not.

    4) Look at what he did right after 1989, because then you would be able to see whether or not he lived by what he wrote in that essay. Also look at his recent history and see if the people who he has worked with think that he no longer believes the things he believed 20 years ago.

    5) I think he might have really changed his mind because as the article said, both his wife and daughter work outside the home and he has hired many women on his staff. I do believe in second chances but I would want to see him in action and apply his new beliefs.

  34. 1. I think that his thesis should not influence voters that much. He will probably lose a few supporters, but not a substantial amount. A lot of outdated material is garbage because people do actually change their beliefs. Society’s opinion might have changed him or he is just getting older. Apparently when people get older they start seeing things differently.
    2. I would defiantly not want someone to judge me in the future for things I write now. 34 is still a pretty young age for a politician to be throwing out his opinions. If he were 50 at the time, that’s about average for a politician and at that point, his ideals should be fixed.
    3. No, only the current beliefs that he stands by today should be considered by voters. Ideals that he says he doesn’t believe in anymore and were included in his thesis should be disregarded.
    4. I would look at his current actions. Whether or not he votes on laws that agree with his statements. Also, if his comments to different people that he talks to all match up. Sometimes people tell other people different things.
    5. I don’t think he still abides by what he wrote. That was written when he was probably just entering the world of politics and he just wanted to be a standout. Now what he said is coming back to haunt him and it shouldn’t be that way.

  35. 1. Yes, I think it does. Even if McDonnell changed his mind, he still wrote the thesis. And as human beings we are going to judge people based on what they say, even if it was they were younger, or stated in the past.
    2. I personally would not want to be judged for something I wrote when I was fifteen, who would? However, when your thirty-four years old, you have opinions on things, and experience to help you develop those opinions, so I think when you get to be 30, 40 , or 50 a person has a firm belief in what they wrote or said at that time. Comparing a 15 year-olds writing, to a 34-year-old’s writing a little bit different to me.
    3. In a perfect world, people should not be judged for their comments even if they admit they have changed their mind. However, people naturally are going to be influenced on McDonnell’s thesis when considering voting for him.
    4. I would look at how his beliefs have changed since this thesis was written, has he done anything in his current political position to support or go against his previous statements in the paper he wrote? I would also look at quotes from McDonnell, would they seem to support his previous beliefs or prove that he has changed his mind over time?
    5. I personally do not think he does, people can change their minds, for some it is harder to do so, but being in the public eye and a representative to the people, I think McDonnell had no choice but to change his opinion.

  36. 1) No, it shouldn’t. He wrote it twenty years ago. That is a very long time and many peoples views change as they get older.

    2) I would not want to be judged for something that I wrote. My views of subjects have changed and they probably will continue to change as I get older. I think there is a cutoff for dismissing beliefs. I would be willing to dismiss something that was written when a candidate was 20 but if he/she was 50 and wrote something when they were 48, I couldn’t dismiss it.

    3) No, his beliefs shouldn’t influence how people vote but they probably will because many people will think about it when voting.

    4) I would look to see if what he says is consistent with what he had been saying. If the stories didn’t match then I would not believe him.

    5) Yes, I do think that he believes what he wrote back then. In an interview he said that he dropped his beliefs a short while afterwards but during his 14 years in the General Assembly he brought up 10 of his 15 points from the paper. To me he strongly believes in what he wrote and his lying to the public.

  37. 1) Yes and no. Yes because what he thought back then can still easily have effect on his future actions. Yes also because voters must know the person who they are voting for completely. No because maybe he has changed his views because with age he has become more wiser, example our parents.
    2) No I would not. At my age I have not experienced everything thing out there. It takes years to learn and I know I still have not learned all of life’s lessons.
    3) It depends on the voter. It he or she believes him. I’m not sure that I would vote for him. I would think that he was covering up just to get elected. Isn’t that what people do? Obama said “change.”
    4) Others things he wrote the following years after 1989. I would really look into his private life. Talk to his wife and children and those close to him. Id look to see how fast he is to change his mind.
    5) I’m not really sure but I do think that it had influenced what he states to believe today. I think that in some issues his opinion is the same but he is trying to tone it down some to not get bashed.

  38. 1) No, but it will. He wrote that paper 20 years ago and since his views have changed. People should vote on his platform now not his thoughts from when he was younger.

    2) No i would not want to be judged for what im writing in the future. As time changes so do our opinions and views no matter how old we are at the time.

    3) No, but once again they will. People are not always the most open minded and once they are presented with one side they dont even give the other side a chance.

    4) Well i would look at what he has done with his family as he has matured. I would also like to see what bills he has passed and if they encourage his thesis or contradict it.

    5) No i do not think he still completely believes his original thoughts. I think he has matured and realized that he wants his daughters to be successful and not trapped inside the home.


Questions? Comments? Bueller? Bueller?