What happened this past Election Day was predictable. We threw a lot of the Democratic bums out after we threw the Republican bums out just two years ago. The 2008 campaign and election was anchored by the Obama phrase, "Change you can believe in" and the people responded to that in a significant way, electing a Democrat as president as well as electing a Democratic controlled House and Senate too.
Just two years later, it turns out a majority of us didn't "believe" in the change and threw out a lot of the Democrats that were caught up in the Obama wave and sent to Washington and now we're hoping better things for the new group. This has happened practically every off-year election for Democrat AND Republican presidents for a very long time. And in many cases, like this year's election, we send people back to Washington just like the ones we kicked out two years ago.
That's because the electorate is fickle and transitory. If the government isn't giving us what we want, when we want it, we throw them out and send the other brand back in and then we continue to repeat that process over and over.
If we did that with our own jobs, friendships and relationships, we would be roundly criticized but when we do it in the voting booth, it's evidently OK.
The electorate in general doesn't like taxes and nobody in their right mind would. We hold our noses and pay them but, like castor oil, it doesn't taste good.
So the mantra during this election year campaign was to extend the Bush tax cuts and make sure there are no new taxes, as long as the things we like are maintained. We don't want Social Security touched, or Medicare, Medicaid, or Defense, or set-aside programs for farmers or Pell grants for students. We want streets and highways we can drive on, quick responses from our fire and police departments and quality teachers to educate our children. It's the taxes that support the OTHER people's programs we don't like and want abolished.
We've all heard that we can't have it both ways but that's what we want. Consequently, for the next two years, we'll have a Republican House, a Democratic Senate and President, and that means not much is going to get done. Anything passed by the House will be rejected by the Senate. If the reverse was true and we had a Democratic House and a Republican Senate, the result would be the same. Not much would get done.
Our system of government is in crisis because the people we elect don't live up to their campaign promises. They don't go to Washington and do what they said they were going to do because they get caught up in the culture of Washington. The power they suddenly have goes to their heads, the money flows freely and they forget about the people back home. It's not unusual for middle-class people to get elected and sent to Washington and come back home rich.
The system is broken and nobody knows how to fix it.
I have an idea. Even though we live in a "free" society, we have to live with the conundrum that we have more laws prohibiting more behaviors than any other country in the world so I think we might as well add one more. I think breaking a campaign promise ought to be criminally illegal and upon conviction, the guilty party would go to jail, just like someone does for stealing your stuff. Because that's what politicians do.
They steal your stuff. They steal your hope, your faith, and the trust you gave them when you voted for them. They smile, look you in the eye, shake your hand and promise to go to Washington and do things they either have no intention of doing or know in advance that they can't do.
Like so many criminals, they don't care how they get what they want as long as they get it and the main thing far too many of them want is the power and prestige of the office they will hold and, in seeking that, they forget about the pledges they made to the people back home.
Whether Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Tea partiers or Libertarians, we should hold them accountable to the promises they made and if they don't live up to them, put 'em in jail.
Maybe that would get their attention.