Read my lips: empty words on the campaign trail

I received a voter pamphlet in the mail today. It wasn’t for anything huge, mostly school board and water commission stuff. But, as most of you know, the political machine for national candidates is already in full swing. Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and a host of others have already declared their presidential candidacy for 2016. It seems that the election process in this country is never ending. Someone is always campaigning for the next election, no matter how far off it is.

This local election, though, brought something to light that I think is problematic in all politics here in America. I’m the type of voter who reads everything in the pamphlet. They printed it and sent it to me using my tax money, so I might as well get my use out of it. But I read every single word in regard to a bill or a candidate before voting, all of the “for” and “against” arguments and all of the endorsements, everything. Prior to today, I felt like that was a good way to stay informed and to get a better sense of the candidates than the political attack ads run on TV.

I opened the pamphlet and began reading up on the candidates. And then I noticed something that I’d never noticed before. It looked something like this:

politics2

I had never noticed that little text at the bottom of the page before. And it was underneath each candidate. Here it is close up:

20150503_134357

Oh? Is that so? Well, then why the fuck do I bother reading these? Apparently anyone who runs can pay to have whatever the hell they wanted printed, and nobody is going to check to make sure any of it’s true. I could run for office here and just completely make up my education, job history, and other qualifications–just totally pull them out of thin air–and nobody would ever know.

And that got me thinking about the national elections. Just like the printed ads in the pamphlet, political candidates will do anything to get elected. They’ll make promises, pledges, whatever. Those are empty promises most of the time, just like the words on the page of the pamphlet apparently.

All of those presidential debates, congressional townhall meetings, they’re all worthless. It’s simply a chance for candidates to pay you lip service. No politician can do even a quarter of the things they promise, because in the real world there are a multitude of factors in play that make it impossible.

But that’s what people get elected on, isn’t it? What they’re going to do. It’s all about what they can do for you in the future. Well, considering that they can promise whatever they want, how are you supposed to pick a candidate? Well, there’s a simple solution: look at what they’ve already done.

Ignore the promises and rhetoric. It’s meaningless, literally. But if there’s an incumbent in the race, you can certainly take a look at their voting record. That’s really the only measure you have at whether this person is representing your interests. And there’s a lovely site that I recommend every single person in America take a look at come election season:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes

Using that site, you can see how every single member of congress voted on any particular bill. If they voted how you wanted them to, keep ’em in office. if they didn’t, elect the other guy or girl. Simple as that.

But what if the election is between two novices with no prior political experience? Well in that case it’s kind of a crap shoot, isn’t it? The political process is largely trial and error, for better or for worse. You pick the person who you think will do the best job (although what you’d base this on anymore is anyone’s guess. You may as well flip a coin with all the propaganda and rhetoric out there) and then when it’s time for the next election take a look at their voting record. Did they adequately represent you and your interests? If yes, keep ’em and if not throw ’em to the curb.

But I would urge people to run off the TVs, close the magazine articles, change the radio station, and avoid the stump speeches. They don’t tell you anything. Try actually participating in your democracy and actually look at how your representative votes on your behalf.

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4 thoughts on “Read my lips: empty words on the campaign trail

  1. Politics is such a mess. The more I try to understand it, the less optimistic I can remain. lol But you give good advice here and that is a helpful link that I myself will use. Of course it’s hard to even guarantee anything about a voting record given all the crap that each side tries to piggy back on to bills that have nothing to do with the actual bill itself. Also is it possible for a politician to change their mind about things given a passage of time in which they might have learned more, or seen the effects of some harmful legislation they helped pass and now think differently? In theory it is, but in practice this doesn’t seem to happen.

    For most of us there are consequences for not keeping our word, and that’s where politicians have it easy. Sure we could ask for another election, but that rarely happens. We could vote that person out next time, but incumbents win what like 90% of the time. But then again, is one politician who doesn’t keep their word very often, better than one who might keep their word and make gay marriage illegal, or make abortion illegal? These are the choices we are often left with in politics.

    1. It truly is a mess. Quite frankly I wouldn’t be so concerned about vetting a candidates reliability if we had better laws and rules regarding campaign finance.

      You raise an interesting point about someone with conviction–but the wrong convictions lol. I hadn’t really thought about that. Now I don’t know what to think anymore 😛

  2. Our government is broken. Period.

    Term limits for all of them! Get new blood in every office from dogcatcher to president. Maybe they can accomplish something before they get bought out, or succumb to party lines. Our stagnant bickering politicians can’t agree on anything except a pay raise. They have lost touch with the people they claim to represent.

  3. I’ve noticed for a while now that presidential elections have turned into a sporting event. Most people who vote are whatever political party their parents were, and they vote for blue/red because they want to win. I doubt that most people actually listen to anything said in the debates. Democrats are just gun-hatin’, fag-lovin’ communists who want to run this country in the ground, while Republicans are gun-loving, racist communists who want to run this country into the ground. That and every single candidate who’s run since George Washington has probably lied like hell to get elected, knowing full well that they won’t get checked. Hell, ever since Bill Clinton we’ve kept the same president in for two terms, even though (from what I remember) the past 3 presidents were hated by the end of their first term.

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