Caustic Countdown: 3 Ways To Recognize Empty Political Promises

24 Jul

We have again reached a critical point in our perpetual political cycle. Men and women are vying for positions of power within our governmental structure, utilizing every possible technique of persuasion to appeal to their potential constituents. Sort of like super-villians, except that they’re supposed to be helping us. Within their super-villianous arsenal of politic firepower are the usual attack ads, glorification campaigns, and subtle subconscious appeals that many of us have come to both love and loathe. But one particular technique stands out as one of the most disdainful to Americans today: the false promise.

Every individual regardless of political affiliation can cite an occasion of empty promises built upon manipulated hope. We couldn’t agree if peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are delicious if we put it to a vote (they are. Vote PB&J 2012), but Americans come together against these powerful but ultimately empty words. Cynicism is rampant in the voting population because many learned of the fallaciousness of these promises after they cast their ballot. Most voters would have at least debated their choice more intently if they had recognized an empty political oath beforehand. In the spirit of promoting a better future for our country by the ballot box, here are three ways to determine whether a candidate is being honest or playing the political game.

 

 

1) Guaranteeing a Power Play

 

America could easily be mistaken as being engulfed in an ideological civil war. Republicans and Democrats are constantly at each-other’s throats in an attempt to force a submission. If you were to scan the comment section on any major news site, your eyes would practically be seared by the acrid comments both parties are making in reference to the other. Our discourse falls well beyond the boundaries of polite debate, landing somewhere near the border of obsessive insanity. This vehement hatred is found even in the esteemed halls in the Capitol, because people still follow the petty patterns of the populace regardless of social position. Politicians refuse to work together, creating a stagnate system nearly devoid of compromise. While this in itself is a tragic issue, the nature of the beast can alert you to the existence of empty words.

 

The Promise:

“I will repeal Obamacare…” – Mitt Romney

 

Although Former Governor Romney is neither the first or last person to ever guarantee a power play, his statement best represents a potentially empty promise. It is impossible to say currently whether or not this particular promise is truly empty, but most analysts say that it’s not going to happen. Why? Because Romney would have to contend against a senate that still currently holds a Democratic majority. He’d be like an insect trying to pass through a parade of anteaters. The only way for him to actually repeal Obamacare is to have legislation sent through this partisan gauntlet. Judging by the ludicrously hostile nature of congress today, it doesn’t take a genius or political insider to know that there is no way that such a repeal will pass through (apparently, the anteaters are hungry). Sure, if elected, Romney will most likely fight tooth-and-nail to combat certain provisions of the law. He may certainly try to repeal it, but we know that such an effort will prove futile. If one is voting for an individual solely based upon a power play such as this, it might be wise to look for other aspects within the candidate you may deem favorable or consider alternative options.

 

2) Jurisdiction Issues

 

Many people assume that if elected to a prominent national office, the candidate will wield incredible political power. The problem though, is that our federal government exists within a system of checks and balances that separate powers to select branches. This division of power has been set in stone for over 2 centuries, paradoxically having been written down on an incredibly important piece of paper. The different responsibilities of certain branches are enumerated within the text of the US Constitution. There has never been an occasion where one branch can just encroach on the powers of the others without reprisal. They’re like siblings fighting for mommy’s attention. If one pushes, the other will scream “stop pushing me” while the other one starts to kick saying “Mom! The court’s pushing the executive branch!” It’s only a matter of time before mom (which I guess is us, in this weird metaphor?) says “Quit the bickering before I turn this damn car around!”  With this extensive pushing and shoving in mind, it’s incredibly interesting how many Americans are misled into believing a candidate’s eventual power will actually go beyond their constitutional limitations.

 

The Promise:

This sort of faux oath is so terribly common, it would actually be limiting the scope of the problem to post an example!

 

How often do we hear congressional candidates swear that their administration will work to directly reduce the crime rate? How about when Presidents or Governors promise to have a certain law passed or eliminate a certain social program? What’s incredible is that, by the endemic separation of powers, both of these are truly impossible to follow through with!

Take our hypothetical congressman for example. Legislators can write the text of a law, can set down the penalty for breaking said law, and they can even write exemptions within the text to clarify for certain circumstances. Other than that, however, they cannot actively fight to decrease the number of law-breakers. They are not a policing agency; they can’t patrol the streets and arrest someone for littering or running a red light. Unless they became a vigilante superhero (my bet is that they’d call themselves CongressMan and where a white wig to conceal their identity). They have no actual executive power that extends beyond the halls they debate in. Their responsibility is to write the laws.

Similarly, when those running for executive office often promise to have a law passed, they are just blowing  up a column of smoke with a very small flame. The President cannot actively present a bill to congress. He’s just not allowed to, it’s that simple. He can ask a member of the party to do so on his behalf, but his abilities to create new legislation is limited. That includes proposing cuts or increases in the budgets of government programs.

 

3) Time

Finally, we need to recognize the tremendous impact the passage of time has on our political system. This isn’t just alluding back to our perpetual election cycle. It has everything to do with a distinct, inherent limitation our government has. Contrary to the movies, our government doesn’t move with remarkable quickness with every issue. We prioritize, and even then certain “imperative” things are placed on the back-burner. We’ve been putting off rebuilding our infrastructure for years, and even important military maneuvers can take months to accomplish. Our nation isn’t like a motorcycle that can stop on a dime and shift directions based upon the whims of the current administration. We’re more analogous to a semi-truck: it may take a while to pick up speed but once we start moving, we move with incredible force and momentum. The layman, however, believes that certain grievances can be recognized and fixed within a single term. The reality demonstrates much less celerity.

 

The Promise:

“I will reduce the federal deficit by 50% in my first term”- President Barack Obama

 

Say what you will about the President’s term and policies, but we can’t deny that he was an extremely ambitious candidate. That sort of promise gave hope to a populous turned bitter by an increasing national debt and prolonged conflict overseas. The problem is, as it’s become clear now, that this was an extremely unrealistic goal. The national debt during the final years of the Bush presidency hovered around 8 trillion dollars. Truly an incomprehensible and jaw dropping deficit. Now, we live in a nation inundated with nearly 16 trillion dollars in debt according to the office of the treasury. Now, President Obama is promising that he simply needs more time in order for him to reduce the debt by a significant amount. The problem is that something that monstrously huge can’t possibly be significantly diminished in so brief a period. We would have to take our entire GDP, liquidate it, and put it directly towards our debt in order to make an impact. Something that actually does sound super-villanous if a politician were to propose it.

We live in an era where entertainment and communication is updated by the second. Our gratification is inching ever closer to instant. The nation as a whole, however, isn’t even close to that extreme of spontaneity. It takes time to correct past mistakes and change direction. Anyone promising otherwise suffers either from naïveté, or is trying to play off of our own.

 

 

 

 

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