Thursday, October 11, 2007

Promises Compromised

At the recent education forums sponsored by the Association of Commonwealth Teachers, one particular question has been posed at every forum: “The common perception of teachers is that politicians are supportive of education while running for office, and then neglect PSS once in office. What do you think has caused this perception, and how will you address these concerns?”

To me, the answer to the first half of the question is easy: It’s not a perception. It’s the truth. The real question, then, is how and why does that happen? Why do elected officials make promises, only to break them once in office?

Let me just say this: I don’t believe it’s because politicians are evil. I sincerely believe that most politicians start out with good intentions and are, for the most part, concerned about the public good.

However, along the way, promises are compromised as politicians struggle with the reality of politics. Unfortunately, that reality isn’t necessarily about the public good. That reality is riddled with special interests, opposing parties, the complexity of issues, and the plain difficulty of getting a group of opinionated people to agree on anything. In that reality, it’s easy to lose sight of your promises and convictions.

To make matters worse, many politicians become convinced that in order to accomplish anything in politics, one must game the system by manipulating people, brokering deals, and orchestrating all sorts of schemes. In short, well-meaning politicians come to believe that they need power to make things happen. Then, it’s only a matter of time before the pursuit of power overpowers good intentions.

So, you either get lost in the mix or lost in power. Either way, you compromise your promises, which leads to the more important question: How do we keep this from happening?

That, my fellow citizens, is the trillion dollar question that has puzzled political theorists for thousands of years. While I don’t think we’ll find the answer in the weeks before the election, we can at least remain vigilant and remind leaders, once elected, of the promises they made.

Of course, it would be just as good if politicians promised less and delivered more. But would such candidates get elected? There’s another good question for another time.


Jeff said...

The last 7 years of the Bush reign of terror has eliminated any vestige of hope that politicians have anything other than personal enrichment, re-election and power as their focus. The U.S. is governed very poorly, as is this place.

Boni said...

I have that shirt!

Galvin Deleon Guerrero said...

I want that shirt!

I know I said that I don't believe that politicians are evil. However, what gives me pause is Baudelaire's quote as used in "The Usual Suspects": "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”


Boni said...

My father and I have a deal. We never talk politics at family gatherings. Trouble is, we can never stick to it. Good thing we love each other enough to tear each other apart.

David said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: No matter who you vote for, the system wins.

Or, as Homer Simpson once opined: "Don't blame me. I voted for Kodos."

Or, yet again: Bill for First Lady.