In company with past presidents, President Obama has discovered that one can get elected by making glorious promises. Fulfilling them is quite another story.
Whether it is classified security concerns that one only finds out about once in office or the reality that (despite over-reaching attempts) a president does not have absolute dictatorial powers, campaigning and governing are completely different activities. Even star power has its limitations. To the disappointment of President Obama’s supporters, expectations that America’s enemies would be as enraptured with him (and hence America) as teenage girls were with the Beatles, were decidedly overblown.
Unfortunately, most of us fall prey to catchy slogans and starry-eyed promises. That is why you never saw the following policy and campaign slogans: “A chicken in most pots; a car in more garages,” “Fewer children left behind,” “Hope and change which you might like or might hate.”
These sayings aren’t as catchy as the ones which were actually articulated, though they are far more truthful. Yet we continue to elect politicians who run by making outlandish promises and then we are disappointed when their campaign commitments evaporate. Sometimes, even worse, the platforms materialize but don’t deliver the positive results that were dangled as guaranteed before voters’ eyes.
I realized this week that I couldn’t think of either the Obama 2012 campaign slogan or the Romney one. A little research (limited by my non-existent research budget) brought up scant info. Maybe, if we are fortunate, this election will be about issues, not about exciting or provocative words.
As a populace, generations of Americans have been raised to enter marriage with the dream of, “they lived happily ever after.” More accurate would be, “they had their ups and downs, joys and sorrows, triumphs and difficulties, but they were incredibly grateful to have found each other.” Years’ worth of consecutive issues of women’s magazines promise the “last weight loss diet you will ever need.” If any of the diets worked as well as promised, there wouldn’t be a new article on the same topic the next month, would there? Too many people succumb to the “Work four hours a week and enjoy your millions the rest of the time,” pitch. Perhaps reform in the political system needs to start with an electorate whose attitude to all spheres of life is firmly grounded in reality.