Politics & Media
May 31, 2023, 05:55AM

Frauds, Liars and Creeps

American voters can’t believe the promises of politicians.

Screenshot 2023 05 30 at 10.31.54 pm.png?ixlib=rails 2.1

Overpromise and underdeliver. That’s the mentality of most politicians, and it looks like the 2024 Republican presidential primary will follow this trend. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made the impossible pledge he’ll repeal the First Step Act if elected president. He told Ben Shapiro he would repeal a law that passed 87-12 in the Mitch McConnell-controlled U.S. Senate in 2018; the bill also passed in the Paul Ryan-controlled U.S. House with overwhelming bipartisan support. Yet, he expects us to believe a vote for DeSantis will get most Republicans and several Democrats to flip their votes to repeal the law in the U.S. Senate? No chance that happens.

Regardless of how one feels about individual proposals from politicians, they must be truthful with voters and give them realistic expectations of what they can accomplish. Otherwise, voters will view them as frauds and liars—which is how millions of Americans feel today. People generally elect people who they think can improve their lives. However, for politicians to improve lives, they need to back policies that have a shot at becoming law. Most Americans are unaware of the First Step Act and have little appetite for repealing it because a modest, mixed-bag criminal justice reform bill from five years ago isn’t at the political forefront.

This mentality extends beyond one criminal justice reform bill. When Donald Trump promised not only to build a wall but to make Mexico pay for it, that was a Republican presidential candidate making a grand promise he had no chance of delivering. Similarly, if any limited-government Republicans run on abolishing the IRS and implementing the FairTax, they’ll be doing voters a disservice as the national sales tax proposal has bipartisan opposition; such a proposal would need 60 U.S. Senate votes—or 67, depending on whether or not it would require the federal government to repeal the 16th Amendment. Either way, it won’t happen.

As a Massachusetts resident, one of my criticisms of the Democratic Party is its propensity to overpromise and underdeliver. It leaves people disaffected and alienated from the political process. If someone trusted Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, they’d have expected a public option on healthcare, a $15 hourly minimum wage, and bolstered Social Security/Medicare benefits. I can’t remember any serious effort by the Biden administration to get any of that done because the votes to make it happen don’t exist. The Medicare-for-All and Green New Deal proposals from people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were even more ridiculous, even if college kids with blue hair and septum piercings supported them. Many elected Democrats think these ideas are unworkable.

While right-wingers can agree that the pie-in-the-sky proposals by Democratic politicians are unrealistic, they must do the same in the GOP presidential primary. No one will abolish the federal Department of Education. The federal government won’t raise the voting age to 25 as Vivek Ramaswamy proposed, and talking about it will piss off younger voters. Congress won’t have the 60 votes necessary to pass the Fairness in Women's Sports Act. Although the latter is a noble messaging bill, don’t believe any candidates who say they’ll make it law.

To her credit, Nikki Haley set realistic expectations on abortion for the Republican Party. She has correctly stated that if the next president is a Republican, they won’t have the votes necessary to enact any federal gestational limit on abortion—or, as the liberal media calls it, a so-called national abortion ban. I’d love to see the federal government abolish abortion and add a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that protects life from conception to natural death. I know there’s no chance that becomes law, just as Haley knows that even a 15-week gestational limit, liberal by European standards, lacks the votes to become law. That tells us national politicians need to address the demand side of abortion and look at restrictions other than the gestational limit as long as it constitutes principled incrementalism and not some ineffective “then you can kill the baby” garbage.

We’ll see a lot of unrealistic promises from presidential candidates. Trump will vow to do what he failed to achieve in his four years in office, and DeSantis, running to his right, will likely campaign on idea he failed to get done as a member of a Republican-controlled Congress. Perhaps by the end of this primary season, the winner will develop a pragmatic and coherent agenda. But I doubt it.


Register or Login to leave a comment