Campaign Promises: The Lesser Evil
In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama made a number of specific policy proposals. We can call these campaign promises—so long as we understand that they’re implicitly conditioned on Congressional approval and subject to change in light of unanticipated developments. Needless to say, not all of these “promises” became reality. Sometimes, as with the individual mandate in healthcare reform, Congress went a different direction. In other cases, the situation developed. The “promise” to personally meet with the leaders of Iran was made before the Green Revolution. That changed things. While we lament “broken campaign promises,” nobody seriously expects every last policy proposal made during a campaign to get implemented exactly as proposed. We get that the more detailed a candidate’s proposals are the less likely they are to be enacted precisely as written. Candidates make promises of the policies they hope to enact to let people know the direction they would like to lead in. Reality intervenes. Hopefully the principles stay the same.
The Romney Campaign has taken a different tact. They’re avoiding putting out any sort of detailed proposal. I’m getting mailings from Romney that blame Obama for every bad thing in the world—but are puzzlingly opaque on what, if anything, Romney would do if elected President. His campaign says they can’t give policy details because it would “just allow the Obama campaign to shoot at it.” The only detail we know about the policies is that they’re likely to be so unpopular that Romney would rather be vague about them than risk the political fallout of what he actually plans to do if elected.
So Romney, give me some campaign promises. I don’t expect you to actually implement them. Considering your record of politically convenient reversals, I won’t even expect you to mean them sincerely. But come on. Offer some details. Nobody wants to vote for the wildcard.