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Campaign reform? Ban promises

By
February 17, 2010

Promises – the bread and butter of political campaigns, no candidate ever seems to have a shortage of them. Come election time, Americans are fed a steady stream of lofty rhetoric and glitzy slogans, rolling so effortlessly from the tongues of politicians and dutifully parroted by pundit and populace alike.

As Americans, we seem to savor these promises as if a fine wine or an elegant meal, exquisitely prepared and served with all the fanfare of a five-star restaurtant. But all too often we find that the description on the menu doesn’t quite match up with the product under the shiny sterling cover; the filet mignon and Dom Perignon having been replaced with a burger and shake off the dollar menu at the local burger joint. What, no fries?

The “historic” campaign and subsequent election of Barack Obama in 2008 was to be no different. The promises flew like so many carrier pigeons, blotting out the sun with their sheer numbers. A dark and dreary Bush administration was promised to be followed up with the sunshine and statesmanship of the messianic Obama – the One – as he was referred to time and again.

Obama would cast aside the oppression and secrecy of the Bush doctrine and open a new, glimmering world of transparency and honesty in Washington. He would stride into Washington like Jesus at the temple, casting out the bankers and lobbyists with a crack of the whip and an eye on immortality. Gone would be the days of backroom deals and partisan bickering, special interests and legalized scams. NO MORE WAR!

The list of unfulfilled (unattempted?) promises made on the Obama campaign trail has been well documented to date. In my mind, the only ones he seems to be keeping are the bad ones. As the New York Times is reporting, Obama is planning on reneging on yet another of the promises he made to a country hungry for the delicacy of change, but are apparently quite content with the fetid gruel of the status quo – now that it has a friendlier face and a different banner.

After years of suffrage under the dictatorial Bush administraion, Obama and the Democrats promised to restore the balance of power in Washington and do away with signing statements and executive orders. Portrayed in the media as a Constitutional authority (he was a lecturer, not a teacher), the Obama faithful thought that the days of the unitary executive they so much loved to hate under Bush were history. Of course, the more astute among us knew this to be pure fantasy – why work so hard to gain so much power, just to give it all back? That notion defies the very nature of politics and man. But alas, the people believed, and voted accordingly.

A strange thing happened on the way to Washington. The Democrats found that they kind of liked all that power. As compensation for their award-winning roles as doormats for the Republicans throughout the Bush era, the Democrats were rewarded with the keys to the kingdom in controlling two branches of our government and a shallow wait for the third. And all the promises went the way of the dinosaur. Brontosaurus burger, any one?

During the Bush regime, the Democrats whined that they were powerless to stop the insanity – they simply didn’t have the votes or the leverage. Even after given a slim majority in the Congress in 2006, the Democrats cried that they didn’t have enough seats to override a veto, so they just did nothing. The country would have to wait another two years, suffer through the longest and most exepensive campaign season in history, digest and decipher an endless barrage of jingoistic nonsense and puke-inducing punditry, before we’d be miraculously teleported into this new American Camelot.

So here we are little more than a year into the Obama regime, and we find little in the way of change, and very little hope that Obama has the makings of a good recipe for it. Not unlike his predecessor, Obama has very little respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights as he seeks to bypass the pesky legislative process and rule by executive fiat, conveniently ignoring the fact that the reason his agenda is failing is not due to the loss of a single seat in the Senate or his failure to communicate, but because the American People are opposed to it.

Heading into this midterm election, it seems that the country is poised for another round of change. Once again the airwaves will reverberate with messages of hope and promises of a new direction. Although I have very little faith in the ability or the desire of the Political Class to deliver, I do have faith that the American People will rise to the occasion and not only hold their repesentatives accountable for their actions, but continue to take a more active role in holding them true to their promises.

After all, this is our country – yours and mine. Americans are good, decent, hard-working people. There is no reason why we should settle for any thing less from those that represent us. We can no longer afford the luxury of meek acquiescence to party and pundit. The true power of America does not reside in Washington, D.C., but in the hearts and minds, the ingenuity and determination of its citizens.

Let us reawaken the long dormant spirit of American independence and individuality. Shed the dark, suffocating cloak of party loyalty and don the vibrant, flowing vestments of liberty and equality. The future is ours alone to create or destroy. Our Founders provided us the tools and the knowledge, and we can ill afford to ignore them further. The damage done seems irreversible, the obstacles great and many. But this is no time to give up or give in.

From Valley Forge to the beaches of Normandy, the rice paddies of Vietnam to the blowing sands of the middle east, America has always stood fast in the face of adversity and despair, only to become stronger and wiser for her troubles. The change we seek is within our grasp, should we find the courage and determination to reach out and take it.

And that’s a promise.