Monday, April 11, 2011

Promises, Power, and Compromise...When the Pie Shrinks

I think the elected officials in the United States are doing a good job with the lengthy budget debate in a tough situation.  They are making difficult short-term decisions at the hands of a weak economy which has resulted in decreased revenues and increased demands for government assistance.  They are finally talking about the long-term white elephants in the room in any economic forecasting conversation, by openly addressing programs such as health care and social security which have been considered off limits until now.  While at the same time, they are trying to keep the promises made to constituents who entrusted them to vote their specific interests. 

Given the numbers of problems that must be balanced to satisfy the short-term budget issues, the long-term strategy to face our national debt, and create foundations for sustainability, and satisfy a divided nation clamoring for change of all kinds, I think we are witnessing democracy at it's messiest best.

Keep in mind the realities of the system we have created.

Democratic decisions require votes.

Political power comes from being able to deliver a unified block of votes at a given time.

To remain in power you must deliver on promises to voters.

To accomplish anything in a democracy, you must compromise with others in the use and purpose of precious resources such as money, priority, and direction.

No leader, and no politician gets everything they want and they can't deliver on all of their promises.  The system of democracy creates an environment of debate and checks and balances to serve as many people as possible.  But would you vote for someone who said, "I don't want to make any promises I can't keep so I'll do the best I can when I get there."  Probably not, though that is the reality of political leadership.

Getting elected is about making promises.  Getting reelected is about keeping promises or convincing people you did the most that could have been done.  Democracy and American politics are about debate and compromise.  It's a tough job; I am glad people are willing step up and keep democracy alive.

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