Before you read this piece, you should know I’m no expert political science columnist. I’m just a citizen of the United States who tries to make informed decisions in a world of misleading memes that play to your emotions with quotes taken out of context. A landscape that is trying to make the multi-faceted, colorful world into one of black and white.
The landscape of politics. *sigh*
I try not to peg my views in any box and label it as Democrat or Republican, but these views often lean toward the former. I would like to consider myself somewhat of a swing vote, but I have grown tired and weary of American ‘bootstraps’ individualism, which seems to run prominently with Republicans. I’d like to say I vote for candidates that are not derisive and that draw people together rather than tear them apart, but both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of this. One need only to scroll Facebook to see it in action.
Recently I read a rather lengthy article that discussed the single-payer healthcare plan put forward by democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. It also discussed what happened when other ‘universal healthcare’ plans were put forward by Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama while on the campaign trail in 2007/08.
When Obama first submitted a plan to woo voters, it included no mandate for citizens to buy individual insurance, but Clinton’s plan did. Healthcare policy experts had recommended it as the responsible thing to include (see article link for details) so her team did the ‘responsible’ thing and included it. Once Obama was in office, did his previously non-mandated healthcare plan stay the same when presented to congress? No, it did not. Now it was mandated, as those policy experts had originally advised to Clinton. Any voter who had this as a sticking point between the two candidates is likely to be pretty apathetic about political promises right about now, and with good reason.
We’ve encountered a time where bait and switch policies do not work anymore. The citizens who heard these campaign proposals on the election circuit are going to be sorely disappointed (and thusly jaded) if these “promises” or “changes” do not literally come to fruition. With so many candidates promising sweeping reform, changes, and dictums, it’s no wonder that ‘We The People’ are growing so very disenfranchised with our government as a whole. These “promises” that are made to us now are nothing more than a vision plan with which to rile us up. They are marketing tools to help candidates sell themselves into office. They are the flashy, political equivalent of “BO-GO” deals at the store, or when items are marked with red “Clearance!” stickers, but they are only discounted 10%. These promises and platforms are motivational tactics – they are meant to move the merchandise; only in this case, it’s the voters they intend to move.
I am trying to put myself beyond the sensationalism of this political sideshow, but it’s getting increasingly difficult. To see beyond these flashy sales deals and the bright red sticker prices. I’m sure there are many others who feel this way.
I’m tired of politicians who keep “one-upping” the other with grander and grander schemes and finger-pointing statements in order to lasso more voters to their base camp. There is no way to prevent that from happening out-right, but the fact that some of the facts, promises and statements being made border on being astronomically insane is really getting to me.
I get that people are fed up with government and the bureaucratic process.
I get that people are looking for someone who is essentially an outsider who can whip Washington into shape.
But these grander and grander selling points and schemes are mainly just fueling the fire for more and more vitriolic division.
The American people are divided indeed. As such, the governmental process is a long and arduous one that requires time and compromise (i.e. actually listening to each other, a lost art these days) in order to solve anything. I don’t foresee that ever changing – not with political bases growing further and further from each other, while also growing increasingly cynical from political promises.
And so I say to myself, over and over: Don’t take the bait. Don’t rile yourself up on grand campaign promises. This is the politics machine, trying to alienate you and your views from anyone who would ever think otherwise. Drawing lines in the sand makes decisions easier.
I’m trying my best to remove myself from these social manipulations and promises that we are being put through, and trying to imagine the candidates on how they would conduct themselves in office:
- Would they treat all people – regardless of race, gender, religion or creed – with respect and dignity? Do they act this way now?
- Would they pass policies and laws that respect all people, regardless of race, gender, religion or creed?
- Will they make informed, intelligent decisions that put people above profit?
- If they are making sweeping promises – how many of those promises are sincere and put the welfare of the American people above sensationalism for sensationalism’s sake?
- And finally – are they thinking beyond Band-Aid fixes for deep, systemic problems? If they lack expertise in a given area, will they pull in experienced advisors who are not beholden to particular corporate interests to work towards achievable, unbiased solutions?
We are being subjected to a lot of marketing slogans and handshakes and flag pins right now, and I hope that I can find the insight to see through the circus to the core person on the podium. The real leader who would recognize that being President is not about them – it’s about us.
The office of President is not about status or the power of making promises or individual vision plans, and it should certainly not be treated as a vehicle for personal agendas or beliefs.
It’s about serving for the common good of all. Are these candidates serving us?
Or are they just serving themselves?