Politicians and their promises


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I know some politicians who are good, honest, capable leaders who represent their constituency with faithfulness and courage. They are public servants working in a difficult environment that is often governed by pressure, compromise, bribes, and threats. Those who remain true to the principles upon which this country was founded are to be praised and commended.

However, the general public is becoming weary – no, disgusted – with those politicians who run their campaigns on what appears to be high ideals, grand promises, and impeccable integrity then get in office and the people discover that instead of getting Dr. Jekyll they have elected Mr. Hyde.

At the Republican National Convention in 1988 presidential nominee George H.W. Bush gave a speech accepting the nomination of the GOP on Aug. 18. Perhaps the most prominent sound bite from the speech was “Read my lips: no new taxes.” That pledge had been a part of his election platform throughout the campaign.

However, after he was elected President Bush agreed to a compromise with the Democratic-controlled Congress to reduce the national budget deficit by increasing several existing taxes as a part of a 1990 budget agreement.

In the 1992 presidential campaign Bush’s broken promise came back to haunt him and he ultimately lost his bid for re-election to Bill Clinton after only one term in office.

Incidentally, Clinton’s presidency is not particularly remembered as a time of truth, transparency, and honored promises either.

Rather than the political rhetoric improving, it has gotten worse than ever. The current political campaign cycle has captured the attention of tens millions of people across the width and breadth of this land, and the citizens have been subjected to political campaign advertisements, pundits’ analyses, rallies accompanied by occasional protests, fiery speeches, and candidates’ promises for an inordinately long period of time. It is doubtless that all the political hoopla will continue with increasing intensity until Nov. 8.

In the primaries the amazing number of votes accrued by anti-establishment candidates illustrates America’s dissatisfaction with the way our government is operated. Several years ago many conscientious voters concluded that the Republicans weren’t conservative enough, so the Tea Party emerged. In this election cycle some have concluded that the Democrats are not liberal enough for them, so Bernie Sanders has attracted an amazing amount of support for his socialist agenda.

The populace is desperately looking for someone who will earnestly represent the views and values they embrace. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that many of those in political office are not influenced nearly as much by “we the people” as by special interest groups, professional lobbyists, and big businesses.

And oh, the promises we have heard from those men and women running for political office – and the bigger the office, the bigger the promises. We have heard promises including everything from free college education (Sanders) and building a wall across the Mexican border with Mexico paying for it (Trump) to protecting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for transgender people, especially trans women of color (Clinton).

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, writing for Psychology Today, illustrated the reality of broken campaign promises, explaining, “When Jon Stewart interviewed Barack Obama, he questioned whether the President had substituted campaign ‘audacity’ with legislative ‘timidity.’ Stewart’s question actually illustrates that there is a distinct correlation between broken promises and voter discontent."

Politicians obviously believe that great promises win elections, but if those promises aren’t kept or for some reason can’t be kept it reflects poorly on the candidate. And unfortunately, the political landscape is strewn with broken promises. Perhaps that is why an article in U.S. News and World Report said, “Politicians dissemble.”

Dan Groat in his work, An Enigmatic Escape: A Trilogy, writes, “I don’t know how a reporter would ever understand a politician. Your job is supposed to be about finding the truth and enlightening people. Right? A politician’s job is about hiding the truth and fooling people. Right? You want us to be better informed so we get smarter. They think we’re dumb and it’s to their advantage to keep us that way.”

The next election in Georgia is on May 24. Find out everything you can about the candidates running for office in your district and vote as an informed citizen for those you believe are telling you the truth.  Once they are elected hold them accountable.

Hosea 4:6 the Bible says, “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.”

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