Tag Archives: election

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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Caustic Countdown: 5/14/12

14 May

Good day to vampires, and good evening to those with proper circadian rhythms.

This last week was particularly eventful, politically. Even if you don’t happen to subscribe to the traditional news sources (and say, instead, you merely follow the Caustic Countdown), I’m fairly certain that you’ve heard about the hullaballoo going about in the political arena. Besides the fact that there are rich, privileged politicians, watching this display of strategic verbal evisceration is as close as we can comfortably get to the hunger games.

Now, I’m not going to get atop a pedestal and say “Obama is a scheming socialist; vote republican” or “Romney is a callous business man; vote Obama.” In my humble opinion, it’s all a bunch of puppetry which plays upon very real ideological foundations shared by a large propensity of Americans which are, in turn, polarized based upon minutiae and extraneous nuances. In short (in the words of my father, my mentor) it’s all *cough* bullshit, bullshit *cough* bullshit. A show, a facade, a play within a play- like in Hamlet except with less incest. I have my beliefs, you have yours. We all want this nation to grow stronger with each successive effort and generation. If we work together, regardless of petty differences, we can make America amazing for our posterity.

But even if I can respect your beliefs, and you can respect mine, we can all agree that sometimes politicians and their constituents do some, well… interesting things. So rounding out this week’s four is some recent political actions culminating in clean, bipartisan hilarity. Well, not so much clean. This is politics, after all.

5: Incarcerated vs Incumbant.

Elections are meant to be a serious matter. To vote poorly and for the wrong candidate is to embrace certain grave consequences. People will cite both this president and last as a cautionary tale in voting for “the right man.” However, consequences may already be pretty grave in West Virginia; how else can they justify a convicted Texas felon receiving 40% of the vote in a Democratic primary against President Obama.

Now I understand the whole premise of tactical voting. I even understand voting for Snoopy to send a message. But when 40% of the DEMOCRATIC vote rallies behind a convicted TEXAS felon instead of President Obama, then this man clearly has a damn good publicist. Either that or his platform must be really personable and relatable. It presumably includes things such as softer punishments on crime and mandatory sympathy for people who grow their hair out long enough for it to look like a mauled raccoon.

When asked why individuals had voted for the convicted felon, most reported a serious disdain for the President’s energy policies. Seeing as how he routinely pushes for green-technology and West Virginia is heavy in coal production, the apparent abhorrence makes sense. But still, wouldn’t it be interesting if the convict made it to the white house? I wonder if they would have to pardon him or merely force him to work by telecommuting.

4: Newt in Deep Water

Many people know Newt Gingrich in different ways. To some, he is the man who promised to get us to the moon… in less than a decade. To others (a smaller populous) he was a serious contender for president. To most, the man’s name makes him sound like he’s an amphibian from the Amazon.

The truth is that Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is all of these. Except for the Amazon part (although, I’m still waiting on the official DNA test results).  In addition, the man was a strong proponent of arguing for a balanced budget, responsible fiscal spending, and intelligent monetary policy. So is it a case of “whoops!” or delicious irony that he is in the biggest financial hole out of any of the candidates for president this cycle?

Sure, running a campaign is expensive. You have to spend loads of greenbacks just to continue shoveling those bittersweet negative advertisements down our throats. And then you need enough money to pay your employees and fly around in a private jet- and all that jazz. It racks up heavily. So heavily that he currently leads the current debt list- ahead of even multiple-attempt third-party candidates.

3: Not Too Merciful Court

Although many people consider the supreme court to lie within a political vacuum, the truth is that the influence of politics on the court is comparable to how prevalent a certain Serbian inventor’s work is to our daily lives. Although most of their rulings are displays of intelligence-fueled common sense (indeed, most opinions are levied with incredible super-majorities or carried with a unanimous vote), the most publicized often come down to pure political leaning.

This case didn’t even get the writ of certiorari.

Tom Petters was a man convicted of  orchestrating a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme. The stare decisis ruling means that the man will continue to serve his fifty year sentence. If fifty years sounds like an awfully long time for a few measly billions of dollars of personal wealth and welfare stolen from innocent victims, you’re in luck. You qualify to be this man’s attorney.

According to the article linked above, the primary argument of the man was that he’s innocent. But as the old adage goes, prisons are filled with innocent men. (Sometimes, they are at least present). However, the primary argument of his attorneys is that his sentence was simply too extreme. Considering though, that in 1992 the act of committing suicide was considered a veritable crime by the Judiciary branch, it may have been the wrong route to go.

1: Immoral (Even for a Politician).

All joking aside, we can agree that politicians are truly human. They have their personal flaws and shortcomings, to err is to be mortal. Many retire without a single official blemish on their official congressional record. Still- let’s be honest- it’s just too tempting to pick out the few who get caught in remarkably compromising situations and believe them to be emblematic of  representatives within our democratic-republic.

Then there are those guys who even stand out above that. So much so that they even get tried for corruption and cheat on their spouses who are ridden with cancer.

Let me be clear now. I don’t dislike John Edwards personally because of his policies. I don’t dislike him personally because he is a Democrat; and I wouldn’t dislike him personally if he was Republican or Independent. However, I do dislike him personally because, to be blunt, it takes a certain kind of asshole to cheat on your wife with a movie star and father an illegitimate child all while she battles cancer. I think that’s a fair, bipartisan statement.

So it aroused more venom when it came to light that Edward’s campaign manager allegedly paid said mistress nine-thousand dollars a month for living expenses.  Defenders insist that the money was a donation entirely unrelated to the fact that he was secretly (and literally) making babies.

For some reason, I want to invoke my father’s prior wisdom.