2010-04-01 / Sam Bari

A platform for political reform

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

Bless our country’s generous and forgiving heart, but I would like to think that the citizens of this great land, after generations of management by mob rule, would tire of losing the same dumb political game.

Whenever the populace wearies of an incumbent party, come election time, the other party attacks like a “herd o’ sharks on a feeding frenzy.” They lambaste every little failure that the current administration has ever experienced. Then, they promise to solve every one of those issues.

Whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in office is of little consequence. The same scenario continues to take place.

The opposing party promises to fix whatever the incumbent party could not, but they never say how they are going to do it.

For instance, when George W. came into office, his campaign promise was “compassionate conservatism.” He accused the Clinton administration of intervening in the affairs of other countries and extending our troops too much. He claimed that the country would be in dire straits if a serious conflict presented itself. He said that he was going to prevent that.

After winning the election, he could not wait to attack Baghdad.

The point is: He never broke a campaign promise because he never said how he was going to solve the problem. He only promised “compassionate conservatism.” Although I am not certain what that is, it sounded profound, and the voters obviously bought the concept.

In the last election, the slogan was, “Yes we can.” And that inspired offering was supported by “...hope through change.” Again, what and how change was going to happen was never exactly defi ned. One of the promises was health care reform, and we did get health care reform.

Many are not happy with it, but we got it. Now the self-claimed political pundits can make astute statements like, “How’s that hopey changey thing workin’ out fer ya?”

I have the utmost confidence that respect for the political acumen of our nation’s leaders has been elevated around the globe after our allies, as well as our enemies, heard that brilliant commentary. The annoying voice that just will not go away.

Political salesmanship has manipulated the masses since the country was conceived. When I was a kid, Dwight D. Eisenhower was running for the nation’s top job. “I like Ike” was seen and heard 24/7. Unfortunately, that’s all I remember about the campaign. I have no idea why anybody liked Ike. All that was important at the time was that I was supposed to like him.

John F. Kennedy started his campaign with “Leadership for the 60s.” The supporting statement was, “We can do better.” However, in the end, Kennedy is most remembered for, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” That line galvanized the young vote for the nation’s youngest president.

When we reflect on these political platforms, it is easy to see why they worked. The campaign managers hired the best of the best to develop those gems that were designed for the times.

One would think, however, that constituents would demand more. Although the campaign slogans held great promise, they were inconclusive without substance to support them.

We could easily write off the nation’s dilemma by saying, “We have nobody to blame but ourselves. We voted him/her or the party into office.” Yes, we did; but voting them into power was not the sin. The sin was buying the sizzle and not checking on the quality of the steak.

In other words, we accepted the slogans as adequate proof that the politicians we supported were going to fulfill their promises to our expectations. They have repeatedly sold us the same tired rhetoric.

To win an election in this country, candidates only need to learn how to dangle a carrot. The voters will chase that carrot every time because they are so desperate to see something good happen.

That is sad. When candidates ask for our support, I do not care which party they represent, we must ask them what they plan to do after they take office. Then, we must ask how they are going to accomplish their promises and goals.

Unless we see transparency in plain English, with logical, workable solutions to the issues the politicians are seeking to resolve, we must not vote for those candidates.

Until that happens, we will continue to live in a system we cannot understand.

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