Trusting Campaign Promises

by Chas Danner

After watching both presidential candidates run from their biggest achievements as well as their failures, Blake Zeff wonders how we can trust what either candidate plans for the future when they're unwilling to acknowledge the past:

Promises or policy proposals offered by candidates may offer us guidance as to their priorities, but they’re obviously not sworn over an oath. If you’re looking for real clues to how a candidate might govern, their past is the only factual basis we have. To put it more bluntly, in politics, the future is a fiction. If campaign pronouncements were real plans never to be violated and always deliverable, there would have been a drastic shift in US foreign policy between the last two administrations; the individual mandate for health care would have been off the table; Mitt Romney would be to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights; and the last two presidents would have fundamentally changed the tone in Washington.

In the best-case scenario, policy proposals are sincere plans that someone will try to implement, if elected – assuming that the political realities and their partners in government will allow them (no sure thing). In the worst of scenarios, they’re gimmicks cooked up not by the policy director of the campaign, but the advertising director or the pollster or the candidate’s spouse, all with one goal in mind: to win a campaign.