"I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932, in a statement to labour leaders who had advocated for bold policies.Leaders often explain that their failure to enact the right policies is because public support is either lacking or is in opposition to them. The fact that public support is fickle and fashionably sporadic is valid, however the idea that popularity should stop or limit the adoption of correct policies for a nation, no matter how democratic it is, is false.
What is correct or right should not be solely dependent on popular opinion, after all democracy itself isn't. The same principles that provide the foundation of democracy provide the argument that what is ultimately right is not determined by democracy.
Equality of individuals, a principle of which is necessary to democracy, is a principle that does not derive its legitimacy from popular support and yet without it democracy cannot exist. Reason and the values inherent in our human nature justify democracy; the system of governance is something that we all recognize is right without relying or justifying it with a vote. This is evidence enough to show that there are at least some things that are right and should be pursued no matter the amount of public support for them.
Political leaders who defer doing the right thing because it lacks public support, do so either out of self-interest, and therefore what is right was already meaningless, or they never believed it was in fact the right thing to do.
Just like democracy which is a system justified regardless of popular opinion, an ultimately correct course of action is either always right regardless of public support or it isn't. Politicians who subordinate everything they think is right to popular opinion don't think anything is right.